Containment Skills

During an emergency therapy session last week, therapist #2 had me work on containment in order to ground me. She had me write out trigger words and items that are triggers around my home, and how I feel when I am triggered. Then, I folded them as many times as I could and placed them into an envelope, and then sealed the envelope. She asked me what I wanted to do with the envelope. I told her to keep it. She said that the point of the exercise is to give me control. I am putting these triggers and feelings away until I choose to pull them out one at a time, and I get to control how long they are out (ie, for a therapy session only). I mostly felt better after session. Then, yesterday I had supervision at work (speaking with a licensed therapist to share and collaborate on my cases, which is a requirement for me as I seek licensure), where I shared some of my problems containing my own “issues,” especially regarding a specific client. She again shared the concept of containing the issues in either an imaginary box or a real box. I told her the words keep escaping from their imaginary box, and that my box continued to explode. She told me to stop making up excuses and to practice what I preach.


Once I returned to my office, I had a no-show, so I decided to use my art therapy supplies to contain my feelings and triggers again.

trigger words

I folded them up and placed them in my work bag, for lack of a better place at work.

in purse

On an afterthought, I wrote something else to place in my pocket to help ground me when I needed, along with this Lego. The Lego has been in my pocket since my session on Thursday. She gave me a polished rock for my pocket as a tangible grounder, and I replaced it with the Lego because it reminds me that I’m fighting for my children. The paper reminds me that no matter how dirty I feel, my body is white as snow.


8 thoughts on “Containment Skills

  1. I found this blog post really interesting as i have done some similar work to this in my own therapy. I’m glad it helped you to contain some of your fears and triggers. I like the Jesus quote and think that using the lego to represent your children is a great idea but you have to keep fighting for YOU as well as your dear children. Big Hugs, Ellie xxx ❤

  2. I never really got the idea of containment therapy when I was younger. I didn’t realize the things we had our youth groups were any more than an exercise After reading this post I get it! And the value of it! Do you like. Do you like the use of it in your life ?

  3. Hi. I want to say thanks for this post, and your blog. I know you are not publishing anymore, and I completely respect your decision. I found you looking for containment skills, and came to this post. I’ve been working specifically on cPTSD with several therapists over the past few years, and just learned about containment skills very recently. I find that as I live my way through self-directed healing, different words or phrases come up, and I go searching the interwebs and find answers and information that I need. This week, your blog has been that for me. I hope you are still fighting the good fight, and that you are well supported by the people in your life. For me, my journey has led me away from my church family because that was bringing more shame and dissociation with virtually every point of contact. I have had to pull in, and find my self more than God for the time being – I know that may sound like heresy, but it’s what I’ve needed to do. Since cPTSD basically robs you of having a self…If God is who he says he is, then I trust he understands this and is big enough and loving enough that I can do this. It’s day to day. Moment to moment. I also really appreciate your post in EMDR. I was considering doing that, because I am disappointed in and impatient with my progress, but based on what you wrote, I think I will not. I am inspired to try your containment exercise here, and the LEGO person in your pocket also. I’d love to hear about any new ones you have tried, but I understand if you are not ready to share. Blessings to you today.

    • Hi Brandy, I’m sorry I didn’t see this until now, and then only by accident. If you like, you may reach me at . I understand what you are going through and also removed myswlf from my church family. It is very hard to try to connect now that I feel ready to try again. Here is where i found my personal healing: a mild SSRI (which i had been avoiding like the plague) and learning to shut down every single triggering memory and every upsetting thought. “NO YOU CAN’T GO THERE. MOVE ON.” and i would focus on the task in front of me. After 2 years of this, i feel i have moved beyond my diagnosis and have mild anxiety—- a vacation compared to cPTSD. If i have found healing, so can you. Listen to the Bible on an app to fill your mind with Christ. If you have a good day, or even a good hour, rejoice!! And remember the darkness won’t stay forever, even if it feels like it at the time. God has healed my heart in so many ways. Blessings ❤

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