PTSD is a traumatic stress induced disorder that currently affects over 5.2 million people, with that number growing drastically every day. Because of the growing need for PTSD support, new methods of providing peer support are necessary to help those affected by PTSD.
While there is plenty of research being conducted daily to scientifically produce some form of relief for people that have experienced traumatic events, there is one current form of aid that can be provided at little-to-no cost; listening.
Here at Peer Support Central, we offer a multitude of courses ranging from peer support for those in the military, corporate business world training, and peer support courses for first responders. One commonality that all of our courses hold dear, and something you will likely hear while attending any one of our courses, is that listening is one of the most valuable tools that you have in your peer support toolbox.
While we offer a plethora of courses here at Peer Support Central, our PTSD support are among the most important. In today’s post, we are going to discuss the value of listening when supporting a peer that has been diagnosed with PTSD.
What Is Listening Well?
In PTSD support, listening well is an extremely important aspect of truly providing support to your peers. By listening well, not only can the affected person feel more comfortable, but they may also see more of a chance that talking to others could benefit them in their search for relief.
In short, listening well is truly understanding what another person is saying, or trying to the best of your abilities to understand. When someone is providing peer support to someone that has suffered from a critical incident, military stress, or stress from a first responder incident, it is important to try to fully understand their story so that you may make your best effort to have a beneficial conversation.
Listening well also doesn’t mean that you have to agree with what is being said, as listening well helps in understanding who they are, where they come from, and what happened to them so that you can better understand why they think the way that they do. For an example, someone who was in the military suffering from PTSD may have a different point of view as a civilian, as military training, experience, and stresses have shaped the way that they may see or understand an incident.
How To Show, And Practice, Listening Well
An extremely important part of listening well as a form of PTSD support is to make it extremely clear that you are intently listening. Most people know the look of someone who is barely listening as they speak, and most people would probably agree that it doesn’t feel good. When someone appears to be hardly listening, people often begin to feel like they are burdening the person, making the conversation extremely impersonal, and also leading to a less productive conversation.
Below, we have outlined some of the basic ways that you can assure someone that you are both listening well and engaged when providing someone with PTSD support.
As cliche as it may sound, being present, is a huge part of showing someone that you are listening well. By “being present” we don’t mean simply showing up, but rather being clearly physically there in the moment. With PTSD support, being present is arguably one of the more important ways to show that you are listening. A good way to listen with your whole self is to make eye contact with the person that you are providing counsel to. One of the most beneficial ways to provide someone with peer support is to be there “in at the moment” with them.
Providing support to someone with PTSD can be difficult, as for most people providing that kind of support does not come naturally. Often times, when people are listening to someone, whether it be a friendly conversation or a university lecture, people tend to become closed to the speaker, crossing their arms across their chest or narrowing their shoulders with their hands in their pockets. While for most people this is an inadvertent action, when providing PTSD support to someone, it is important to consciously try to maintain an open and welcoming posture. Through positive body-language, people may feel more compelled to open up and talk about the issues that bother them the most.
PTSD support is a difficult task in some cases, as most people don’t understand how to properly provide counsel or help to someone suffering from a stress disorder. Because of this, we offer peer support courses here at Peer Support Central, so that people may better be able to provide emotional support to their friends and family.
Part of providing PTSD support to friends and family is being aware of their social cues. Be mindful of nervous or uncomfortable cues, and use those cues as a way to regulate the conversation by steering it in the appropriate direction.
The one way to prove that you are listening well that has withstood the trials of time is asking questions. By demonstrating sincerity and true interest in someone’s issues can prove that you are there to help and usually helps people feel compelled to share the issues and hardships that they had previously felt so inclined to keep bottled up.
Learn To Listen Better With Peer Support Central
At Peer Support Central, we offer a wide variety of courses that are aimed to train first responders, military veterans and personnel, as well as corporate leadership roles how to better support their peers. Very similar to peer support, PTSD support is an extremely beneficial way to help others cope with stresses caused by a traumatic event.
Among the skills necessary to provide proper counsel to your peers is to listen well, a skill that most people think that they have, but likely don’t. Come join us for one of our training courses at Peer Support Central and learn how to listen well, among many other skills, as you learn to better provide support to your peers and co-workers.