Helping others avoid PTSD

Use affirmative listening to modify trauma

Nobody is immune to post-traumatic stress disorder, and feeling helpless after a disaster is natural. Facing death and destruction has challenged our emotional responses, but you can help alleviate PTSD in others. Psychologist Leonard N. Matheson of EpicRehab recommends affirmative listening to help modify and resolve trauma memories. When discussing terror, trauma memories become slightly malleable, open to change. Even if you don’t fully understand a friend’s trauma, you can commit to affirming their experiences and confirming their security by simply saying, “I’m so sorry and I’m glad you’re safe.” Through repeated acknowledgment of their trauma and current safety, you can set the kernel of recovery, interrupt negative rumination and begin to uncouple the emotions associated with the memory by pulling your friend’s awareness out of the past. Avoid one-upmanship of telling other “war stories,” as this can increase the emotional salience of the memory. Remember to listen and affirm your friend’s safety and recommend professional help, if necessary.