Skip Navigation

HSE Keltoi & HSE NATP Training: Seeking Safety Therapy - video interview with Dr Martha Schmitz

Seeking SafetySeeking Safety Training

The HSE Keltoi Addiction and Trauma Treatment Centre & the HSE National Addiction Training Programme recently provided a two-day workshop entitled 'Seeking Safety Therapy'.

The workshop was delivered by Dr Martha Schmitz.

Dr Martha Schmitz

Martha Schmitz, PhD offers continuing education workshops and supervision in PTSD and substance misuse to clinicians throughout the United States and abroad.

She has worked with Lisa Najavits, PhD, author of Seeking Safety.

Dr Schmitz is a Staff Psychologist at San Francisco - VA Medical Centre and an Assistant Clinical Professor at UCST School of Medicine.

She received her doctorate in Counselling Psychology from the University of Missouri at Columbia after earning her bachelor’s degrees from the University of California at Davis.

She has collaborated on several research projects in both the United States and France and has clinical and research projects in both the United States and France.

Her clinical and research interests include PTSD and substance misuse.

Below is a video interview with Dr Martha Schmitz conducted by Peter Sherry, Manager, Keltoi. Filmed by

What is 'Seeking Safety'?

Seeking Safety is a present-focused therapy to help people attain safety from trauma/PTSD and substance abuse.

The treatment is available as a book, providing both client handouts and guidance for clinicians.

The treatment was designed for flexible use.  It has been conducted in group and individual format; for women, men, and mixed-gender; using all topics or fewer topics; in a variety of settings (outpatient, inpatient, residential); and for both substance abuse and dependence.

It has also been used with people who have a trauma history but do not meet criteria for PTSD. It was begun in 1992, under grant funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

It was developed by Lisa M. Najavits, PhD at Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital.

The key principles of Seeking Safety are:

  1. safety as the overarching goal (helping clients attain safety in their relationships, thinking, behavior, and emotions).
  2. integrated treatment (working on both PTSD and substance abuse at the same time).
  3. a focus on ideals to counteract the loss of ideals in both PTSD and substance abuse.
  4. four content areas:  cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal, case management.
  5. attention to clinician processes (helping clinicians work on countertransference, self-care, and other issues).

Training modules

Seeking Safety consists of 25 topics that can be conducted in any order: Introduction/Case Management, Safety, PTSD: Taking Back Your Power, When Substances Control You, Honesty, Asking for Help, Setting Boundaries in Relationships, Getting Others to Support Your Recovery, Healthy Relationships, Community Resources,  Compassion, Creating Meaning, Discovery, Integrating the Split Self, Recovery Thinking, Taking Good Care of Yourself, Commitment, Respecting Your Time, Coping with Triggers, Self-Nurturing, Red and Green Flags, Detaching from Emotional Pain (Grounding). Life Choices, and Termination.


Posted by Andy on 08/26 at 03:54 PM in
Share this:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • LinkedIn
  • E-mail


Commenting is not available in this channel entry.
The HSE and Union of Students in Ireland (USI) ask students to think about drug safety measures when using club drugs
Harm reduction messages from the #SaferStudentNights campaign.
Poll Poll

Have you ever been impacted negatively by someone else's drug taking?