5 Powerful Ways to Provide Meaningful Support to People Dealing with Trauma
Updated: Jun 8
Trauma can have a profound impact on an individual's life, affecting their mental, emotional, and physical well-being. For most trauma, we can't plan and prepare ourselves for the road ahead. With that in mind here are five powerful ways to provide meaningful support to people dealing with trauma. By implementing these strategies, we can offer comfort, understanding, and a sense of empowerment to those on their healing journey.
1) Educate Yourself about the Trauma: To provide effective support, it's essential to educate yourself about trauma and its effects. It can be emotionally tolling to teach medical terms or try and condense complex issues so that you can talk about the daily happenings. This knowledge will enable you to approach conversations with empathy and ensure that your support is informed and easy for them to communicate. Ensure you know terms or acronyms that will make a conversation easy.
2) Keep Your Personal Emotions in Check: This can be a difficult balance. You don't want to suppress your emotions. You love this person and care deeply for them. They do not have the space to hold your emotions when dealing with their trauma. They do not need to support you while you cry for them. While being a supportive friend or family member is valuable, it's important to recognize that professional help may be necessary for someone dealing with trauma. Encourage them to seek therapy or counseling from qualified mental health professionals who specialize in trauma. Offer to help research therapists or accompany them to appointments, if they are comfortable with it.
3) Establish a new Normal: Recovering from trauma is a complex and individual journey, often requiring time and patience. Understand that healing takes time, and progress may not always be linear. Try and re-establish normal habits quickly to ground them. Send memes, recipes, and movie trailers. Give them glimpses into the life they had pre-trauma. No one wants to live in a bubble of sadness. Try and be a person they can be "normal with" even if the situation is anything but. Be patient and avoid placing pressure on the individual to "get over" their trauma. Ensure that they are invited to things as if they weren't dealing with trauma. Birthdays, spin class, movie nights. These are essential to keep us connected to the beauty in our lives. Understand that they may have good and bad days and provide reassurance that you are there for the long haul.
4) Take Care of the Tiny Things: In addition to emotional support, offering practical assistance can be invaluable for individuals dealing with trauma. This could involve helping with daily tasks, such as cooking meals, running errands, or taking care of childcare and pet responsibilities. By lightening their load, you allow them to focus on their healing journey. If you aren't geographically located near them use the online tools and resources. Task Rabbit can run errands, provide cleaning services, repairs, and even plumbing. UberEats and Instacart can deliver meals and groceries. Rover and Wag can offer dog walking services. If you are able to be there physically that is always best. If you can't there are still ways to ensure your support is felt.
5) Be a haven: Creating a safe and non-judgmental environment is paramount when supporting individuals who have experienced trauma. Practice active listening, allowing them to express their thoughts, emotions, and experiences without interruption or judgment. Avoid offering unsolicited advice and instead focus on validating their feelings. Demonstrate empathy, understanding, and patience, allowing them to feel heard and respected. Ensure that you aren't overwhelming them with offers. Inside just act. It is the difference between asking "Do you want coffee?" and telling them "I had some coffee delivered to you. It's outside your door when you are ready for it." It is hard for people to ask for specific help. Instead, take that weight off them. "Lunch will be there at 12:30 this afternoon." You know your loved ones. You know what they like. Don't ask. Just do.
Supporting individuals dealing with trauma requires a compassionate and understanding approach. By creating a safe space, educating yourself, encouraging professional help, practicing patience and understanding, and providing practical support, you can make a significant difference in their healing journey. Remember that each person's experience is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Be open, flexible, and adaptable in your support, always respecting their autonomy and choices. Together, we can create a network of support and contribute to the healing and resilience of those who have experienced trauma.