Containment & Grounding Skills Workshop

wonder by bigevil600 via stockxchang

Life often throws us unexpected things – or just lots and lots of the same old stressful things.  The ability to manage stressful life events and situations, to manage our emotions, and to calm ourselves in the midst of anxiety and uncertainty is so essential to the task of being human.  Equally important is the ability to increase our energy levels and to re-engage with the world around us, when we just feel like checking out and shutting down.  The truth is, these human bodies and brains do not necessarily come pre-installed with the ability to manage everything life throws us, so learning and practicing skills for modulating and managing our experiences can be very helpful.

 If you can say “yes” to any of the following, then this workshop would likely be helpful for you:     Have you ever …

  • … had a panic attack?
  • … felt nervous, shaky, or jittery?  Been jumpy, easily frightened, or “on edge”?
  • … felt hyper-vigilant (i.e., highly alert to your surroundings with a feeling of impending danger)?
  • …  reacted strongly to something that, in retrospect, seemed out of proportion?
  • … experienced intrusive thoughts or images that cause you to ruminate or get really down in the dumps?
  • … had your mind “spinning,” through rapid thoughts, or in circles?
  • … felt numb or “checked out”?
  • … felt “floaty”? or experienced dissociation (i.e., a sensation like you’re not really in your own body)?
  • … had extremely low energy, with difficulty moving?
  • … had difficulty thinking or speaking?
  • … found yourself spacing out?

On May 18, my colleague Laura Pierce and I will be presenting a workshop, in conjunction with the WINGS Foundation, on Containment and Grounding Skills, aimed at helping participants better manage their responses to stress.  Based on a framework of the Window of Tolerance (Ogden, 2006), we will guide participants through practical, easy-to-approach exercises that can be practiced and used to surf anxiety and panic, manage overwhelming feelings and dissociation, and strengthen skills in grounding and relaxation.

surfing via stockxchangContainment” refers to the ability to “put away” thoughts and feelings in a safe place until we are better able to deal with them; this allows us to continue functioning despite difficult situations.  “Grounding” refers to out ability to stay connected to the present moment, rather than letting past regrets and triggers, or future worries, interfere with our enjoyment of the here and now.  Together, these practices can help us “surf” whatever difficulty is happening, and get us through to a place of greater calm and balance.

hand holding peace via stockxchangParticipants will also walk away with a handy pocket-guide that will include all of the exercises we practice during the workshop, plus many others; because often when we are in the midst of stress, it’s hard to think straight, and having a little (pocket-size!) reminder of what to do can come in quite handy.

I teach these techniques because I believe in them; I have seen the difference they make for people, and practice them daily myself.  So please join us on Saturday, May 18, 9:00 – 11:00am for a fun and informative experience! 


  • When:  Saturday, May 18, 2013, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
  • Where:  Community Room at Denver District 1 Police Station (1311 W. 46th Ave., Denver, CO)
  • How:  Call the WINGS Foundation office to sign-up (303) 238-8660
  • Suggested Donation of $10
  • get the flyer here:  GroundingAndContainmentWorkshopFlyer 2013_0408

Can’t make it?  Contact me; I am always open and available to schedule a workshop for clinicians or clients at a more convenient time.

Tips for Finding a New Therapist

Finding and choosing a therapist is an important decision.  Numerous studies have shown that the most significant factor in a person’s progress in therapy is related to the relationship with the therapist, itself.  Therefore, it’s important that you find someone you are comfortable with, and that it feels like en empowered, informed decision.  Remember, you are hiring the therapist to work for you, and it is okay to take your time and be careful in making your decision.

Most therapists offer a free initial consultation, and this is a great opportunity to meet them in person, and to get a feel for them.  It is also a great opportunity for you to find out about logistical things like fee and schedule, AND about how they might work with you.  Following are suggestions of things to consider, and ask, while making your decision:

Possible Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • Do I feel safe with this person?
  • Do I feel seen and heard?
  • What other qualities feel important for my therapist to have?
  • Does this person seem to have experience and/or training, working with my particular issues?
  • How do I feel around this person?  Is there a connection?

Possible Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist

  • What are your views about therapy?
  • What training, degrees, or experience do you have with situations similar to mine?
  • If concerning a child: How much professional and personal experience do you have working with children?  How much do you work with the parents, if you are counseling a child?
  • How do you feel about working with a _________? (Fill in the blank:  man, woman, transgender, working, unemployed, substance user, etc. – any factor about yourself that feels important)?
  • What are your views on marriage?  Divorce?  Etc.?
  • How do you decide on the fees you charge?  Do you ever make adjustments to fees?  Are you able to take insurance payments?  (if not, ask about how they might be able to meet your co-pay – often therapists can come close, and this gives you, as a consumer, more freedom and control over your care.)
  • Do you diagnose?  What might this mean for me?
  • What is your policy about canceled appointments?
  • What happens if I don’t show up?
  • What are your expectations and beliefs about therapy?
  • How collaborative are you?  To what extent will I be involved in decisions about my therapy?
  • What skills will I have when treatment is completed?
  • How do you/we decide when it is time for therapy to end?  How will I know when I’m finished?
  • If you are out of town, will I have a back-up therapist?
  • What am I not asking, that’s important for me to know about you, or therapy?

* Resourced, with revision, from: WINGS Foundation (2009).  Survivors’ guide to healing, 2nd Edition.  Denver, CO: self-published.

Download a pdf of this article: FindingNewTherapistHANDOUT_KDunn_0313