The S.E.L.F. Framework

A Problem-Solving Framework for Clients, Families, Staff and Administration

S.E.L.F. stands for the categories of problem-solving that make up the Sanctuary Framework: Safety, Emotions, Loss and Future. These categories represent the four dynamic areas of focus for trauma recovery. They help organize conversations and documentation in a simple and accessible language.

What are the S.E.L.F. steps?

  1. No one gets better or works well without having Safety. Safety means physical safety, emotional safety, social safety and moral safety. Safety is where we always start and end. If you are not safe, you can't get better.
  2. Managing Emotions is the step that helps us to know what we are feeling and to handle our feelings in a way that doesn't hurt ourselves or others.
  3. Loss is the step that helps us acknowledge and grieve the painful things that have happened to us in a safe way and move to a healthy future.
  4. Future is the step where we look at our choices in creating a better personal future and to make the world a better place.

S.E.L.F. is a non-linear framework, so there is no proper order when assessing an issue. For example, one may start with the future and work backwards from there, considering safety, emotions and loss during the process.