Note to healthcare providers: Social support is extremely important to your recovery. Share the tips below with your family and friends.
- Help your loved one create routines. Structure and predictable schedules can restore a sense of stability and security to people who have experienced trauma. Create routines that involve getting your loved one to help with groceries or housework (e.g., maintaining regular times for meals or evening routines).
- Speak to your loved ones about the future and make plans. This can help counteract the common feeling among people who have experienced trauma that their future is limited.
- Help your loved one remember their strengths. Encourage them to believe that they are capable of recovery and remind them of their strengths, positive qualities, and successes.
- Help your loved one identify and manage triggers. Ask your loved one about the things they’ve done in the past to respond to a trigger that seemed to help (as well as the things that didn’t). Then come up with a joint game plan for how you will respond in future.
- Ask your loved one directly how you can help. For example, you can ask: “What can I do to help you right now?” Ask if a timeout or change of scenery will help.
- Be a good listener. Don’t push a person who has experienced trauma to talk about it. If they choose to share, listen without expectations or judgments. Make it clear that you’re interested and that you care, but don’t worry about giving advice. It’s the act of listening attentively that is helpful to your loved one — not what you say.
- Educate yourself about trauma and PTSI. The more you know about the symptoms, effects, and treatment options, the better equipped you’ll be to help your loved one, understand what they are going through, and keep things in perspective.
- Accept (and expect) mixed feelings. As you support your loved one, be prepared for a complicated mix of feelings including anger or frustration. Remember to tend to your own emotions while supporting your loved one.