According to some studies, the less a person who has experienced a traumatic event confides in their loved ones, the less they are able to assimilate the event and the more likely they are to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Conversely, the act of talking to your family and friends about the event helps to better manage emotions and make sense of it as a whole. Being able to talk to your loved ones about the event is therefore a big step towards recovery.
The involvement of a loved one in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder remains a promising way to improve not only the quality of their support but also the victim’s psychological state. A psycho-educational intervention of only a few sessions with a loved one (for example, with a spouse) increases the positive effect of cognitive-behavioural therapy!
The therapy sessions with family and friends are meant to:
- change their perceptions
- provide them with support
- promote their understanding of the victim’s reactions
- strengthen their relationships or improve their interactions with the victim
Very often, talking to others (e.g. family, friends, colleagues), expressing fears, emotions and worries are excellent ways to lessen the gravity of the traumatic event, to find solutions, and even to highlight positive consequences following an event that at first glance seems catastrophic.
However, family members do not necessarily know what to do to help the person who has experienced a traumatic event and this is completely normal. Family members intuitively adopt certain behaviours that can be useful during normal stressful events. However, traumatic events and their consequences are of a different nature and can lead to much more intense stress reactions. As a result, usual supportive behaviours may not be sufficient and may even be detrimental to the victim’s well-being, even if the intent was initially positive.