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Guidance for family and friends following a traumatic event


advice on how family and friends can help their loved one following a traumatic event

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									    PTSD information sheet 3: Guidance for Family and Friends following a
                              Traumatic Event

When someone we care about has been involved in a traumatic event, it can be very
difficult to know what to do. We can feel helpless, confused and worried. Our loved one
may withdraw from our support, or be emotional or angry with us. They may have a range
of post traumatic stress symptoms and sometimes it can feel as though we’ll never get the
“old person” back and life will never be the same again. As someone who cares for them,
you are an important part of their recovery and there are things that you can do.

      Encourage, but do NOT pressure, your loved one to talk about the incident and
       his/her reaction to it. If they do talk, your job is simply to listen and not judge or
       jump in with advice
      Take your time and accept that small steps are the quickest way to a full recovery
      Find out about post traumatic stress – knowledge is power. Recognising the
       symptoms and helping your loved one to access this knowledge is generally helpful
      Telling people to put it behind them and move on is not generally helpful
      Ask what they need from you. Offer practical support if that is needed. Their levels of
       concentration and focus will be impaired and everyday tasks can become challenging
      Make sure that they have a private, quiet space to go to when they need this. Post
       traumatic stress can leave people overly sensitive to loud noises, sudden movements
       and bright lights. If you have a busy home, this can be difficult for them to manage
       continually and they may need regular time out
      Maintain or return to a normal routine as soon as possible
      If they have no appetite, encourage regular, small meals that are easy to eat and
       digest such as soups, stews, milky puddings
      Don’t take their anger or withdrawal personally but accept that you too will
       sometimes feel frustrated and helpless. Look after your own needs and make sure
       you have support in place for you
      Reassure them that that you value and care for them even when their behaviour
       means that they can be difficult to live with. They will often be terrified of losing you
      If the symptoms of post traumatic stress do not begin to subside within a few weeks,
       or if they intensify, consider seeking further assistance. It is best if they can be gently
       encouraged to do this themselves but many people fear seeking psychological
       support. However, if you ever fear they may become a danger to themselves or to
       you, you must put safety first and seek immediate professional advice and support

    For more information on psychological trauma, visit

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                                                                    © KR Trauma Support 2011

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