Using olfactory stimulation with children to cue the safe or happy place



The standard Safe Place Protocol uses a word for cuing and self-cuing. For many clients, using a cue word to elicit the Safe Place and its positive associations may be effective, however, this author has hypothesized that other forms of cuing may be more effective, depending on the severity of their trauma and patterns of neurobiological responses. For the last 3 years, this author has used olfactory stimulation with more than 30 children and adolescents to cue the Safe Place and resources installed with the Resource Development and Installation (RDI) Protocol. These children have shown positive responses with increased self-regulation to self-cuing with olfactory stimulation using simple scents and scented lotions. The following is the adapted Safe Place Protocol for children using olfactory stimulation. This protocol can be used with children and adolescents from 4 to 12 years of age. Some young children might not understand the word "safe" so referring to the Safe Place as the Happy Place might be more appropriate. Before using this protocol, assess the presence of allergies or skin conditions that can be worsened by the use of lotions and scents. This applies to the child, the parents, and the clinician as well. Even though this author has yet to have any child report negative associations to the selected scent, any stimulus can potentially become negative. If this is the case, you can encourage the child to choose another lotion or scent at any point during the administration of this protocol.


Book Section





“Using olfactory stimulation with children to cue the safe or happy place,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed November 26, 2020,

Output Formats