What is the theory behind this PTSD Grounding worksheet?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is classified as a ‘Trauma and Stressor related disorder’ in DSM 5 that occurs after an individual witnesses a highly traumatic event in their life. Among its symptoms are persistent intrusive thoughts and memories about the traumatic event and heightened physical and emotional arousal or dissociation in response to reminders of the traumatic event.
These symptoms tend to either overwhelm the individual or leave them numb and detached from the present. Grounding techniques are used to help them stay in the present moment and gain control of their thoughts and feelings before their anxiety overcomes them and makes coping difficult.
How will the worksheet help?
This worksheet will provide some simple grounding techniques that the client can practice whenever they face distressing symptoms brought about by triggers of their trauma. It will provide them with a coping ‘toolbox’ that they can utilise in need. Through practice they can also identify which grounding technique works best for them.
How to use the worksheet?
This worksheet can be used for clients with PTSD, anxiety disorders and issues related to substance abuse
PTSD Grounding Worksheet
- Practice when calm so that you can use these techniques when your emotions aren’t stable.
- Analyze your level of stress or emotional pain before and after
- Only focus on facts and push away any judgements or opinions
- Remind yourself to focus only on the present.Push away all thoughts about the past or the future.
|Mental Grounding||Physical Grounding||Soothing Grounding|
|Reorient yourself to the present by asking questions: Where am I? What time is it? What day is it? How old am I? What year is it? etc.|
Think of a category and make a mental list of things in it for example: Name of Planets, TV channels, Famous celebrities etc.
Look around you and name a set number of things you can see, hear, touch and feel.
Describe the physical details of your current location for eg wall colour, number of people, what kind of furniture etc.
Close your eyes and recognize the sounds that you can hear.
Count backwards from any number or sing the alphabet.
|If a chair is nearby, sit down and focus on how your body feels and touch the chair, Hold on to it tightly if needed.|
Drink some cold water and focus on how every sip makes your mouth and throat feel cold.
Hold an ice cube and focus on how it feels in your hand.
Hold objects around you and focus on their design, texture, shape, use etc.
Engage in a physical activity like walking and counting the steps or jumping and counting the jumps.
Notice your breathing by putting a hand on your belly to focus on its movement with every breath. Say inhale-exhale out loud while doing it
|Repeat a coping statement out loud such as ‘I know I can get through this. I am capable.’|
Think about your loved ones.
Recall any motivational quote or saying or song that helps you calm down.
Talk to yourself using gentle statements.
Picture yourself having a good time in your safe place and focus on giving it as much detail as possible.
Najavits L.M. (2001) Seeking Safety: A Treatment Manual for PTSD and Substance Abuse. Guilford Press.
American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, DSM-5. Washington, DC: Author.
You can download this worksheet here.