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Helping A Friend With PTSD: Common Questions

It's human nature to want to help those that are suffering and in pain, it's also normal to feel confused about how to help them.I have been asked many times, what is the best way to help my friend that has suffered with trauma? Very often people are afraid of saying the wrong thing, fear that they may make the situation worse, and worry about how to act around their friend. Often times just being present, and letting them know you are there for them, is all that they need.

What if I say the wrong thing?

This is a common concern for a lot of people- fear of saying the wrong thing. It's important not to get caught up in worrying about what to say or not to say. Many times when we over think what we are going to say we end up fumbling our words and drawing a blank. The advice that I give to my client's is to be genuine, authentic and caring. Your friend can tell if you heart is in the right place, and will understand if you accidentally say the wrong thing.

Is physical contact like a hug ok?

The answer is, "It depends". Ask your friend if they would be okay with you giving them a hug. Sometimes physical contact is triggering for some individuals, and other times it is a great comfort to receive a hug from a friend.

Should I spend a lot of time with my friend?

I encourage you to ask your friend if they want to be around people, or if they need time to themselves. We all process trauma differently, some people feel that alone time is what they need, while others may feel comfort in having someone with them.

What if they don't want to talk to me?

If you find that your friend does not feel like talking, I encourage you to respect their wishes, and wait for them to come to you when they feel like talking. Some individuals are struggling with shame and guilt and may not feel comfortable talking about what happened.

Should I encourage my friend to get professional help?

Providing your friend with information on counseling services can be very helpful. Offering to accompany your friend to their first appointment can help to ease their fears, and help them feel supported.

Ultimately, it comes down to treating your friend the way that you would want to be treated, and letting them know that it is okay to ask you for help.

If you or someone you know has experienced trauma, and are ready to begin treatment, please feel free to give me a call, and we can work together on finding the treatment option that works best for you.

Call to schedule an appointment at 615-982-5710

Ginger Poag, MSW, LCSW

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