Being there in the crisis (2)
Your aim should be to help people cope with their crisis and grow through it. This means lowering their fear level and helping them to function normally again by: 1) Making contact with them. People in crisis tend to withdraw rather than ask for help. So you may have to make that first move, showing them understanding and genuine interest. You don’t have to be a professional; two simple steps can make a big difference. Listen attentively to their concerns and perceptions, and maintain eye contact. These two things will make them feel valued and understood. 2) Helping reduce their anxiety. A calming presence can lower their stress. Encourage them to talk about their concerns and offer hope. For example, say, ‘There are ways to deal with this situation.’ Chances are the person’s outlook is distorted or overly pessimistic, so gently suggest other perspectives. For example: ‘May I suggest another way of looking at this?’ Whenever possible give them hope for the future: ‘I realise it’s tough, but with God’s help I believe you can handle it.’ Then give them a Bible promise to back it up (see Jeremiah 33:3). 3) Focusing on real issues. In a crisis people are often overwhelmed by the array of confusing facts, potential problems, and necessary decisions. By offering them assistance in deciding what issues must be faced first, and what problems need to be solved now, you help alleviate their distress. Rather than discussing the past or worrying about the future, concentrating on the present and helping them take action can lessen their anxiety and empower them to cope better.