We have first responders for physical traumas or difficulties. Here’s a secret: psychological first aid is also important during hard times.
When trauma occurs, you hear the sirens. The ambulance, police and first responders are on the way. As humans, it’s our duty to try and help those who are in serious trouble. And I would like to add, it’s also our responsibility to be there for those who experience mental trauma or difficult situations as well.
Psychological first aid is on the way
If someone cannot be there for you personally, then there are steps to take during a mental emergency. If they can be, or if you’re the one helping, either way, these solutions are called psychological first aid.
The reason we need this type of care is that not everyone knows the right things to do or say, nor do those who experience mental difficulties or traumatic times understand what to do. So, that’s what we’re about to learn.
The steps to psychological help in difficult times
1. Create a safe environment
The first thing that must be done during trauma, is to remind yourself or the one you’re helping that the trauma is over. That fight or flight syndrome raging in the head must be calmed down to assess the current situation, which may be much better than before. Use simple words and don’t speak too fast.
2. Stay in that space
For a while, just practice breathing. This helps you to ground yourself. If it’s your friend, remind them to inhale and exhale deeply which regulates the heart rate. When you’re doing this, you’re remaining in that safe environment while the systems of your body follow your mind back into its normal state.
If the survivor of the difficult situation wants to talk, then talk with them, but if not, don’t ask questions at this time.
3. Build up strength
If you’re the one suffering, remind yourself that you are strong. You are not a victim, but a survivor. If you’re not the one facing difficult or traumatic times, remind your friend or loved one of their own strength and place focus on independence. This focus on caring for themselves will help them transfer from victim to survivor mode, and also helps them stand up to any additional confrontations or negative events presently happening.
4. Connect and show care
If you’re helping a loved one, say, for instance, get through a panic attack, making a connection is a great idea. Connecting with someone who may be experiencing a large range of symptoms, such as dissociation or anxiety, can keep them centered in the present.
You can talk about the good surroundings, and even introduce pets to help avert focus from panic to caring for another being. This is one reason why service animals are so important.
5. Use and talk about hope
During the difficult time, remind your friend or loved one who may be going through something painful, that there is always hope. Hope is so powerful, and it helps us see the positive aspects of every single situation. Thinking of hope, visualizing hope, and practicing hope can truly heal you from traumatic times or difficult situations. Never give up hope.
Psychological first aid also includes what NOT to do in these situations.
First of all, it’s not an exhaustive list of what to do, and what not to do, but there are a few things if prevented will move the process along much faster. This means getting from hurt to healing twice as fast.
So, remember, never make an assumption of what the person has experienced. Only listen as they tell you what they want you to know. Don’t talk about “symptoms” or “diagnosis” because this only makes a traumatic situation seem like a part of the victim’s imagination. This is bad.
Never talk down to someone who suffers in difficult times. Also, don’t pressure them to talk about the details even if they have started talking. The point is to let them lead, you follow, giving support as needed. And you will know when it’s time to be extra supportive.
Do not try to add details that aren’t there or haven’t been verified. Sometimes it’s best to sit back and watch certain things unfold. One more example would be a domestic altercation.
If a mediator is brought in because the altercation is elevating and getting out of hand, it’s best to get both parties calm first, then listen to each one, but one at a time. At some point, you will understand if you need to add anything to the conversation. Listening is under-rated and can come in handy during traumatic times.
When difficult times come, it’s usually temporary
While some bad things seem to go on and on forever, they do have an end. This is one thing you should always remember, and it goes back to what I said about hope. Hope is actually knowing that it won’t rain forever.
So when utilizing psychological forms of first aid, know your stuff. Your friends, your mate, your loved ones, or whoever is going through these difficult times need your help. It’s best if you know how to do that too.
And I think, after reading through these simple steps, you should be able to help yourself and others get through problems a bit easier.
I send you peace.
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