TRAUMA: Help­ing Friends

Great Health Guide - - FRONT PAGE - Words Susie Flash­man Jarvis De­sign Olek­san­dra Zuieva

The def­i­ni­tion of trauma is a deeply dis­tress­ing or dis­turb­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Trauma cov­ers a wide va­ri­ety of sit­u­a­tions and for this ar­ti­cle, I will not cover do­mes­tic abuse here be­cause this topic needs spe­cific sup­port and train­ing. Imag­ine drop­ping a peb­ble in a pond and watch­ing the rip­ples move out un­til they meet the edge of the pond. At the edge, the ef­fect of the peb­ble is still ap­par­ent. Trauma has a sim­i­lar ef­fect, where the rip­ples can af­fect you as well as oth­ers.

So here are a few ideas that can as­sist you when a friend is go­ing through trauma.

1. Put on your own oxy­gen mask be­fore you help an­other.

It is im­por­tant to try and en­sure that you don’t suf­fer vi­car­i­ous trauma. This is sec­ond hand trauma that can oc­cur when some­one re­lates a story to you and you feel it too per­son­ally. Ther­a­pists who work very em­path­i­cally with clients can ex­pe­ri­ence this and one of the ways they man­age, is to have ro­bust su­per­vi­sion that pro­vides them space to off-load their bur­den. This helps them to sep­a­rate them­selves to a de­gree from the client. Thus, it is vi­tal that you don’t carry the load alone. Ide­ally it would be bet­ter if you did not carry it at all but when it is a friend who is suf­fer­ing, it is very hard to stand at arm’s length.

2. Re­main bal­anced your­self.

This en­sures that you do not sink un­der the load by hav­ing more go­ing on in your life. It is very im­por­tant to:

• Have fun and laugh­ter that does not make you feel guilty.

• Breathe deeply in fresh air to re­plen­ish you.

• Rest, an ac­tive verb, is also vi­tal to re­store you when you have spent time with a trau­ma­tised per­son.

• Read a good book that takes you out of this world and into an imag­i­nary space is restora­tive too, as is a good film if you don’t want to read.

3. Walk­ing with the wounded.

Look for ad­di­tional sup­port for the both of you. That means sug­gest­ing and pos­si­bly re­search­ing the best sup­port for the friend and get­ting ad­vice for your­self.

• Lo­cate ther­a­peu­tic help. Check out lo­cal agen­cies that pro­vide coun­selling and vic­tim sup­port. They should be able to di­rect you to other agen­cies if they can­not help you them­selves.

• Learn to lis­ten not ad­vise. It is a skill to lis­ten. Fo­cus on what is be­ing said rather than try­ing to solve the sit­u­a­tion. Be present, look at your friend. It is okay to cry with them.

• Re­mem­ber that you don’t know how they feel, so please don’t say you do. You may un­der­stand the sit­u­a­tion but it can be very min­imis­ing to have their trauma com­pared to what had hap­pened to some­one else.

4. Give them what you have.

If you are not bal­anced you will sink un­der the bur­den, so share the load (with their per­mis­sion). It is okay to not be trau­ma­tised your­self. Of­ten peo­ple feel bad that they are not suf­fer­ing too, but if you are ro­bust you may be able to pro­vide them with bal­ance; a place just to be with­out ex­pec­ta­tions. Pro­vide a din­ner or a film for the fam­ily. If they have chil­dren, just mind­ing their chil­dren for a few hours, will be of great ben­e­fit.

Some­times trau­ma­tised peo­ple just need some­one to turn up with a meal. It is hard to think straight when you are badly hurt.

Nor­mal ac­tiv­i­ties can feel over­whelm­ing. So even putting on a load of wash­ing, help­ing them to shop or ac­com­pa­ny­ing them to ap­point­ments can be in­valu­able.

5. You are enough.

I com­menced this ar­ti­cle by warn­ing against sec­ond hand trauma and ad­vis­ing against say­ing that you know how they feel. How­ever, you do have an imag­i­na­tion and by putting your mind ten­ta­tively in a sim­i­lar po­si­tion, you will be able to imag­ine what they may need.

• Some­one at the end of the phone.

• Some­one to have cof­fee with.

• Some­one who will not fall un­der the bur­den, but will shoul­der it safely with them.

• Some­one who will tell them that they are not alone and that the feel­ings are nor­mal.

• Some­one who will sug­gest ex­tra help if they need it. (find out about agen­cies, ther­a­pists, or even sup­port groups)

• Some­one who will say noth­ing but just be with them.

• Some­one who will not judge or mea­sure them.

• Some­one who is not afraid of their own feel­ings.

I have worked for many years as a ther­a­pist and the first ques­tion I ask my clients is, ‘do you have any sup­port?’ Those who have friends around them find the jour­ney eas­ier to bear.

Susie Flash­man Jarvis is an ac­cred­ited coun­sel­lor, speaker and am­bas­sador for the char­ity Re­stored work­ing to­wards bring­ing an end to vi­o­lence against women. Check out Susie’s lat­est ra­dio in­ter­view here. Susie’s novel, At Ther­apy’s End, tack­les the is­sue of do­mes­tic abuse. Susie is also an ex­ec­u­tive coach based in the UK and is avail­able for skype ses­sions. Susie may be con­tacted via her web­site.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.