Make an Appointment: 682-382-0020 | [email protected]

  • banner image

    How to Support Someone During / Following a Traumatic Experience

    It is hard to know how to support someone in the direct aftermath (or continuation) of a traumatic event or disaster. It might feel impossible to do anything of value when someone has experienced something so extreme. When we experience trauma the first things that are the most helpful is to establish safe relationships and help have our most basic needs met.

    You might help someone do this by…

    -Allow them to lead the way. 

    Let them be in charge of their own healing process. Although they might be overwhelmed, they are the expert of their experience and know what feels doable / helpful for them. Listen to their requests and respect their boundaries. It is okay for them to be alone, so don’t hover or be intrusive if they ask for space.

    -Provide practical support.

    Take something off their plate and ease their mental load. Often times after experiencing a trauma it feels hard to make decisions. Throw a load of laundry into the washer. Wash the dishes in the sink. Prep a few meals. Take their dog for a walk. Pick their child up from school. Drive them to an appointment. This is often more helpful and meaningful than sending cards, flowers, etc. (not that those can’t be helpful as well)

    -Give the gift of your presence.

    Just being around safe, loving people can feel so helpful. Lending an ear and just being near are some of the most underrated ways to show up for those you love.

    -Don’t rush their healing.

    This takes time and it is normal for them to not be functioning at their full capacity. Let them heal on their own timeline. Grief occurs in waves! Do not pressure them to receive outside help (ex. doctor, therapist, etc.), but be there to help them find and set up those resources if they ask.

    -Encourage healthy behaviors that meet their basic needs. 

    Eating regularly, staying hydrated, going for a short walk together, taking time off work, resting etc. This might be hard considering the context of the trauma, and of course it is not your job to make them do anything. We just want to support them in meeting their basic needs as much as possible.

    -Know your limits & take care of yourself.

    Providing support can be incredibly taxing- emotionally & physically. Have good boundaries and limits on what you can offer so that you can balance helping others and maintaining your own health & well being. You cannot be everything to everyone (or even one person). Delegate and let other’s help you in your support efforts.