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How to Help Someone with Trauma?

group of men and women in therapy session discussing how to help someone with trauma

If someone you love has gone through a traumatic event, you may be wondering how best to support them. Helping someone with trauma is not always easy since everyone manifests it differently, and the condition can include various physical and psychological symptoms. The best route is often professional intervention since trauma specialists can provide trained insight and access to evidence-based treatments. Contact Ray Recovery for trauma therapy treatment in Hudson, Ohio. We’re available at 888.598.6299 or by online message and look forward to helping your loved one find effective services.

What Is Trauma and What Can Cause It?

Trauma is a complex emotional, physical, and psychological phenomenon that can develop when a person lives through an event of actual or threatened grievous harm. Trauma was first medically identified in relation to symptoms soldiers displayed after returning from World War I. In the years since, however, the medical community has come to understand trauma can be triggered by many different events.

Some events that may bring about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or PTSD-like symptoms are:

  • Exposure to combat in a military context
  • Sexual violence, such as rape or other forms of assault
  • Childhood physical abuse, sexual or otherwise
  • Being threatened with a weapon or actually attacked
  • Being in a serious accident, such as a car wreck
  • Experiencing, directly or through mediation, a natural disaster such as floods or wildfires
  • Being mugged
  • Experiencing a terrorist attack or mass shooting
  • Being kidnaped and/or tortured
  • Receiving a fatal medical diagnosis
  • Being subjected to either in-person or online bullying

Importantly, these events need not be experienced directly for trauma to occur. For instance, first responders regularly exposed to details of child abuse or violent death often develop PTSD.

Also, not everyone exposed to a grievously harmful event develops PTSD. Whether the disorder develops depends on a complex array of genetic, environmental, and situational factors.

However, what is consistent is that the survivor experiences persistent, intrusive, negative symptoms when trauma occurs. These often include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and heightened nervous system response when no actual threat exists. Moreover, physical changes, including elevated stress hormone cortisol, increase trauma survivors’ risk for adverse health outcomes like hypertension and stroke. While trauma’s impact is undoubtedly serious, fortunately, with proper care, it’s likewise possible to make great strides in recovery.

Tips for Helping Someone Dealing with Trauma

While professional care for people with PTSD is invaluable, informal social support is also crucial. Except in cases where a survivor’s life is in danger, or they could endanger others, it’s best to let them handle their recovery journey in the way they find best. Trauma is highly variable, and respecting individual needs and timelines is essential to support. Here are a few tips for helping someone dealing with trauma:

  • Begin by asking if they feel basically safe, have a place to stay, or need help calling a resource like a family member or the authorities.
  • As long as these basic safety needs are met, and suicidal or other violent ideation isn’t happening, move forward with support that puts your loved one fully in charge.
  • Work to be a great listener by thanking your loved one for sharing with you if they choose to do so and asking what would be helpful. Avoid statements like “I know how you feel” that can undermine their unique experience. Opt for reflective listening and ask simple clarifying questions if you don’t understand. Then mirror back what you’ve heard, validating emotions. For example, you might say, “I’m hearing that this experience made you feel powerless and like you didn’t know what would happen next. That must have been so scary.”
  • Remember that small acts of love or friendship can be very meaningful and help a survivor get back to everyday life. Making a playlist, inviting them to coffee or a movie, or simply sending them a silly GIF can all be great ways to show you care.
  • Suggest a support group or other form of structured care. Be gentle and remember that treatment is only effective when the person receiving it is open to it. Trauma work will thus likely only take place as a survivor is ready for it.

Get More Info on How to Help Someone with Trauma by Contacting Ray Recovery Today

For more tips about how to help a loved one living with trauma, contact Ray Recovery today. Our caring team is available to talk with you at 888.598.6299 or by online message. If you’re seeking a rehab facility offering substance abuse treatment with trauma-informed care, our Hudson, Ohio, center may fit the bill. Give us a call or fill out our secure online form to begin the conversation about care.