Emotional Wellbeing

Mandy Kloppers

How to Support a Loved One Who is Suffering from Trauma

If someone you care about has recently gone through a traumatic event, you may feel powerless. You probably want to help, but aren’t sure there’s anything you can do. Having the encouragement of caring people is crucial after someone has gone through such an ordeal. Though they might retreat into themselves or seem aloof, this individual likely needs you right now. There are steps you can take to help them. Here are a few ways you can support a loved one who is suffering from trauma. 

Offer Emotional Support 

There are lots of other ways to support someone who has suffered from a trauma. Don’t forget to remind them how well they’re doing. Every step they take toward healing is a positive thing and deserves praise. Moving past a traumatic event is difficult. It requires a great deal of effort. Let them know you see how hard they are working and that you’re proud of them. 


Let them know you are there for them if they should want to talk. Be sure they understand there’s no pressure. Just putting out the offer can sometimes be enough to provide reassurance. What matters most is that you’re there. You don’t have to know just the right way to respond. There will be times you won’t know what to say. It is your willingness to be present that will be most appreciated. Listening without interruption and allowing the individual to process their experience out loud is often useful. Keep the focus on them. Try not to interrupt. During times of silence, you may simply wish to reinforce what they have told you by showing empathy and an understanding of their feelings. 

Provide Hands-On Encouragement 

Returning to a normal routine after enduring something traumatic is an important goal, but doing so can seem out of reach in the immediate aftermath of the incident. You can help to relieve some of your loved one’s burden by offering to take care of some of their day-to-day duties. Helping with childcare, shopping or housework is likely to be very much appreciated by your friend. You will also feel good that you are able to do something tangible to assist them in their time of need. 


Encourage them to take care of themselves during this time. Getting adequate sleep, eating healthy foods and taking time to relax will help to fortify them when they’re feeling vulnerable. It can also be a good idea to limit things like alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine. Engaging in self-care will also go a long way toward boosting their resilience. Suggest fun activities to do together or encourage them to engage in a favorite hobby on their own. Taking time for themselves can provide peace of mind and fulfillment. 


If they seem to be struggling after some time has passed, you might want to talk to your friend or family member about seeking out professional counseling. A trauma therapist in Bay Area or their particular locale can use specific treatment modalities to lessen the impact of the event and to teach them effective ways of coping. These methods can actually work to rewire the brain and shift the negative cognitions that have settled into the body. Your loved one will then be better prepared to move forward in a healthy manner, free from the burden of their trauma. 

Care for Yourself 

Being there physically and emotionally for your friend or loved one can take a toll on your own well-being if you’re not careful. Be sure you’re looking after your own needs. If you get too wrapped up in someone else’s suffering, you could experience what is known as “secondary trauma.” This could have negative effects on your physical and mental health. Take the advice given above and apply it to yourself. Take care to eat well and get enough sleep. Engage in leisure activities. Reach out to people who can support you, and don’t hesitate to seek professional counseling if you feel it will benefit you. If you’re not taking care of your own needs, it will be impossible for you to effectively help the person who was traumatized. 


Consider these tips when trying to support a loved one who is suffering from trauma. It can be a long process, so pace yourself. Know that just being there is incredibly meaningful.


Photo by Rosie Fraser on Unsplash 

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