Offering psychological help to others can be a rewarding and meaningful experience, but it’s important to approach it with care and sensitivity. Here are five dos and don’ts to keep in mind when offering psychological support:
- Do listen actively and show genuine interest and empathy. This means giving the person your undivided attention and letting them speak without interrupting. Use nonverbal cues like eye contact, nodding, and facial expressions to show that you are engaged and understanding. Don’t interrupt the person or focus on your own responses or solutions. It’s important to allow them to fully express themselves and feel heard.
- Do ask open-ended questions and offer emotional support and validation. This means avoiding giving unsolicited advice or telling the person what they “should” do. Instead, ask questions that encourage the person to explore their feelings and thoughts, and offer support and understanding. For example, you might ask, “How are you feeling about this situation?” or “What are your thoughts on this?” Don’t try to solve the person’s problems or impose your own beliefs and values on them. It’s important to respect their autonomy and help them find their own solutions.
- Do help the person identify their own goals and strengths, and assist them in finding resources and strategies to achieve those goals. This means avoiding telling the person what their goals should be or imposing your own values or beliefs on them. Instead, ask questions that help the person identify what they want to achieve and what resources and strategies they have available to them. For example, you might ask, “What are your goals for the future?” or “What strengths and resources do you have that could help you achieve your goals?” Don’t try to control the conversation or steer it towards your own interests. It’s important to be supportive and respectful of the person’s autonomy.
- Do respect the person’s privacy and only share information with others as needed and with the person’s explicit permission. This means keeping the person’s personal information confidential and only sharing it with others as necessary and with the person’s explicit consent. Don’t share the person’s personal information with others without their consent. It’s important to respect the person’s privacy and trust.
- Do accept the person’s feelings and experiences without judgment, and be open to hearing their perspective. This means avoiding judging the person’s actions or feelings or imposing your own beliefs and values on them. Instead, try to understand and validate the person’s perspective, even if you don’t agree with it. For example, you might say, “I can understand why you feel that way” or “It makes sense that you would feel upset in this situation.” Don’t criticize or judge the person’s feelings or experiences. It’s important to be accepting and non-judgmental in order to build trust and establish a supportive relationship.
Offering psychological help to others goes well beyond good intentions and it requires a combination of active listening, emotional support, and respect for the person’s autonomy and privacy. It’s important to approach the situation with care and sensitivity, and to focus on the person’s needs and goals rather than imposing your own beliefs and values.
Finally, here is something to for you to remember:
We all need someone to listen and care,
To offer support and understanding, to be there.
So when you’re offering help, remember these things:
Be present, be kind, and respect what the person brings.
Ask open-ended questions and listen with care,
Validate their feelings, and show that you’re there.
Respect their privacy and don’t judge or control,
Just be a supportive presence and let them unfold.
Offering help is a noble and of kind acts,
So remember these dos and don’ts.