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Grounding Techniques for Trauma


Grounding is a technique used in trauma therapy to help people remain present in the now instead of becoming overwhelmed by memories, thoughts, or feelings associated with their trauma. Grounding techniques for trauma help many individuals with trauma-related disorders cope with symptoms like dissociation, flashbacks, and anxiety. These techniques involve the use of sensory experiences to help the person feel connected to their physical environment, pulling them away from negative thoughts that contribute to symptoms. As a Boca Raton mental health center that offers trauma recovery programs, we want to share more about the benefits of grounding for trauma.

What Is Grounding for Trauma?

Grounding is a technique used to cope with a variety of mental health disorders, including trauma-related disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Through sensory experiences, individuals utilizing trauma grounding techniques can connect with their present and their environment, pulling them out of flashbacks and other negative symptoms.

For instance, a therapist may guide the individual to focus on the sensations of their breathing, the texture of a rug under their feet, the sounds in their environment, or the taste of candy. By focusing on the present moment and engaging in their environment, individuals utilizing grounding techniques for trauma can calm their nervous system and reduce the intensity of flashbacks and memories of the traumatic incident(s).

Grounding can also aid in granting the individual a sense of control over their emotions and reduce their feelings of helplessness and disconnection from their surroundings. There are a variety of grounding exercises for the trauma that can be used in treatment, and a therapist will typically tailor their approach to the patient’s needs.

Trauma-Informed Grounding Techniques

There are a variety of mental grounding methods for trauma. These techniques use the person’s five senses – sound, touch, smell, taste, and sight – to immediately connect the patient with the here and now. For instance, a therapist may have the individual sing a song, rub lotion on their hands, or suck on sour candy.

These grounding techniques produce sensations that are difficult to ignore or help distract the individual from negative thoughts. How a person grounds themselves is highly personal, meaning what works for one person may not work for another. The therapist and patient may need to go through some trial and error before figuring out what works best for them.

It’s also important to note that while trauma grounding techniques are commonly led by a therapist, they can also be done wherever you are. So, if you notice that you’re slipping into a flashback or dissociative state, here are some common grounding techniques for trauma that can help you:

  • Work on a crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search, or any other puzzle
  • Count all the pieces of furniture in your home
  • Play a game on your phone, computer, or tablet
  • Watch your favorite show or movie
  • Read a book
  • Take a mental inventory of things around you, including colors, patterns, sounds, scents, etc.
  • Use some essential oils that remind you of positive things, such as clean laundry or sugar cookies
  • Light a scented candle
  • Smell a perfume that invokes a positive memory
  • Sniff strong peppermint, which is known for producing a relaxing effect
  • Call a loved one
  • Read out loud
  • Describe your surroundings to yourself out loud
  • Blast your favorite song
  • Bite into a piece of lime or lemon
  • Take a bite of something spicy
  • Suck on sour candy
  • Let a piece of chocolate melt in your mouth and concentrate on how it feels and tastes
  • Cuddle or pet your dog or cat (if you have one)
  • Hold an ice cube and let it melt in your hand
  • Drink a hot or cold beverage
  • Pop some bubble wrap
  • Take a hot or cold shower
  • Dance
  • Go for a walk or run
  • Stretch out your body, starting from your toes all the way to your fingers, while focusing on each muscle
  • Take 10 slow, deep breaths

As we previously mentioned, grounding can be done in any environment. You might be home or out in public, but once you experience any symptoms, you can use grounding to focus on the present. Remember that, as with many other mental health techniques, learning how to utilize grounding for trauma can take time, so don’t give up.

Our Trauma Treatment Center in Florida

Our Banyan Boca mental health facility utilizes trauma and PTSD treatment to help patients address and overcome the psychological and emotional impact of traumatic experiences. If you or someone you care about is struggling with PTSD or has been impacted by trauma in some way, we’re here to help.

For more information about our Boca behavioral health services, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 or send us your contact information, and an admission specialist will reach out to you right away.

Related Reading:

7 Stages of Trauma Bonding

Benefits of Trauma-Informed Therapy

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.