Coping Strategies

In this section of the safety plan, the patient is asked what coping and self-soothing skills they use that they have found helpful during a crisis situation. It can help to prompt the patient by asking them to identify what they can do to avoid harming themselves or anyone else while in a crisis. If the patient is unable to come up with any examples that they have used, it can help to walk the patient through other coping skills that have worked for other patients in the past to see if they are willing to try those.

The discussion on coping strategies gives the patient a sense of control over their current symptoms and behaviors during a crisis. It can also give the patient hope to have this discussion and to know and learn that others have gone through similar issues, and have successfully been able to cope with what they are dealing with. As a reminder, these coping skills and strategies are written in the words of the patient, by the patient, on the page.

Family, Social, and Professional Contacts

For the next section of the safety plan, the patient is simply asked to provide the names and contact numbers for their main social support network, which may include family members, friends, neighbors, therapists, doctors, and clergy.

Often, patients are reluctant to add anything to this section, or say that they have no one they can call. We find that sometimes we need to provide the patient with support and reassurance to help them think of someone that may be available to help them in a time of crisis. If they truly cannot think of anyone, we have them write down the number for their outpatient provider, as well as “911” for emergency needs.

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