Your Life: Helping people help themselves

Charlotte Lankard: Helping someone who has gone through trauma typically involves asking a series of questions that will help the person help him or herself.
BY CHARLOTTE LANKARD Published: March 25, 2013

In the 1980s, a team of researchers from Harvard University did a study of people in crisis and concluded that how we cope is not necessarily determined by our character or inner strength. What is most important in a time of crisis is the kind of help we get from other people.

Some suggestions

Chances are most hurting people do not go first to a professional counselor, but begin by talking with friends, family members and sometimes co-workers.

If you are one of those people who others want to talk with when troubled, I offer you some suggestions you may find helpful.

It is NOT to be used with people who have major psychological problems.

If you believe someone is mentally ill, is likely to harm him or herself or another, or if the person has been a victim of abuse or trauma, it is important to help the individual find a trained professional and you remain a support system.

However, if someone comes to you who needs help with an easily identified problem, there are some simple questions that may help a person think through the situation and take responsibility for his or her own actions.

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