What is a “safe space” and why would I want one?
A safe space can be used in many contexts and can have slightly varied definitions depending on the context in which it is used. For example, in schools there may be safe spaces for people of color, women, people in the LGBT+ community, or survivors of sexual assault, etc. In this context, a safe space is a place that people within that defined group can go to be in community with other people who have similar experiences or characteristics. Typically, these safe spaces are created for groups that have been historically oppressed or marginalized. Therefore, a safe space is a place where members of this group can exist without fear of judgement or bullying.
In the context of therapy, a therapist can create a safe space for their clients. This allows the client to openly explore different parts of themselves without fearing judgement from the therapist. For example, in therapy a client might express thoughts or fears that they would never share with their friends or family due to fear of judgement or social consequences. The therapist can then help the client talk through some of their thoughts and fears and provide the client with skills or coping mechanisms. The client’s open and honest authenticity in sessions is a benefit to the therapeutic process, as it allows the therapist to better understand the client’s point of view, which in turn allows the therapist to provide the most appropriate care.
Finally, a safe space can be a space that a person designates for themselves. People with a trauma history can be subject to higher levels of anxiety, stress, and panic attacks. This constant anxiety can impact the person’s sleep and daily activities. In therapy, a client dealing with high levels of anxiety can learn different techniques and coping mechanisms to calm their nervous system so that their body is not constantly under stress. One way to calm the nervous system is to consciously designate a space that is safe, where a person can practice mindfulness activities and relax. A personal safe space could look like a variety of places including: a person’s bedroom, their bed, their car, or even underneath a weighted blanket.
A safe space can be used in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes, but not matter the context, a safe space can be a beneficial tool to help build an individual’s resilience.
Resources for a few safe spaces around Richmond:
· Diversity Richmond is a place and resource for the LGBTQ+ community in Richmond, hosting regular events and an event space rental - LGBTQ+ in Richmond, Virginia (diversityrichmond.org).
· BLK RVA is a community and resource to discover black events, black owned businesses, and the black culture in Richmond - BLKRVA (visitblkrva.com).
· OutRVA is a resource for LGBTQ events, nightlife, dining, arts, culture and more - OutRVA.
· Virginia Hispanic Foundation provides the Hispanic community with connections to businesses and legal aid, and also hosts events - Virginia Hispanic Foundation | Richmond | Resources for Latinos (vahf.org).
· Muslim Community Center strives to provide a facility for prayers, education, youth foundation and community service for the Muslim community - MCCCVA | Muslim Community Center of Chesterfield Inc. (MCC).
· Asian American Society of Central Virginia raises awareness and recognition of Asian heritage and promotes cultural diversity in the region, while strengthening the relationships among the Asian communities in Virginia - MCCCVA | Muslim Community Center of Chesterfield Inc. (MCC)
Why ‘Safe Spaces’ Are Important for Mental Health (healthline.com)
Emotions in the Workplace: Creating an Emotional Safe Space (quantumworkplace.com)