How To Support Someone Who Has Experienced Trauma
Many people have experienced some form of trauma in their lives. For some, the experience is so overwhelming it leaves a lasting impact on their daily lives. Trauma can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, profession, sexuality, or gender. When someone is struggling with the aftermath of a traumatic experience, they need to know they are not alone. It is important they know there are people who can help them through a difficult time.
While, yes, professional counselors and therapists are trained to help individuals who have been affected by trauma, it is also important to know others can provide support as well. Or at least know what support should look like outside of professional environments. There is no shame in needing assistance; in fact, it takes strength and courage to ask for help (especially from friends and family). Everyone who has faced trauma deserves the support they need to heal from their trauma.
If you have a loved one who has experienced trauma, it can be difficult to know how to best support them. Trauma can cause a range of powerful emotions and reactions, which can be hard for the person experiencing them and those around them to process. However, you can provide valuable support to your family and friends with patience and understanding. Here are some tips on how to do that:
Listen without judgment
Traumatic experiences can be very isolating. When someone is trying to process and deal with a traumatic experience, it is often difficult to talk about it with others. It is important that we listen without judgment and provide support to those dealing with trauma. By doing so, we can help them feel less alone and more likely to seek help.
Acknowledge their experience
There are many ways to dismiss the trauma people experience and make light of it. It is important for those who have been through a dangerous or traumatic event to feel safe opening up about their experiences to begin healing emotionally and physically. There's always an opportunity - no matter how small-to offer support in your friend's/family member's trauma recovery process by acknowledging what happened without minimizing its severity even if everything seems okay on a surface level.
Validate their feelings
When you provide support to someone who has experienced trauma, it is important to validate their feelings. This means acknowledging that the person feels what they are feeling and that their emotions are real and valid. Trauma can leave people feeling overwhelmed, scared, sad, or angry, and it is important to let them know that their reactions are normal. By Validating someone's feelings, you show them that you care and understand what they are going through. This can be very reassuring and helpful during a difficult time.
Don't offer advice or solutions
When someone opens up to you about a traumatic experience, your first instinct might be to think of the best way they could get better. When someone opens up to you about a traumatic experience, it is important they feel heard and supported. Giving immediate advice or solutions without understanding their level of trauma can be harmful both emotionally and physically. What people need most are listeners who care enough not only to hear their story but also to understand where those emotions came from. In truth, it is very rare for anyone trying to process trauma to feel comfortable and often shut themselves off from others.
Respect their boundaries
When providing support, it is essential to respect people's boundaries. This includes understanding and respecting what the person feels comfortable talking about, how much they want to share, and when they need a break. Also, providing support can be challenging, but it is important to remember that everyone is different, and each person will deal with their trauma in their own way. By being respectful of boundaries, you can help create a safe space for the person to heal and begin the process of recovery.
Trauma can be a very difficult experience to manage, but it is possible to work through the pain with the support of loved ones. Be patient and understanding as your loved one works through their emotions. Offer practical support where you can and be there to listen when they need someone to talk to.
The KeyWay Experience
Here at Kingdom Expressions we have a purpose-oriented approach to treatment and believe that when individuals discover themselves, identify their purpose, they’re on the way to becoming contributing members of society, which we equate to mental stability. With our purpose-oriented approach, we work hard with our clients to help them to discover their full potential. If you or someone you know is or has experienced trauma, we’re here to help. Get in touch today.