Psychological First Aid in Traumatic Events

Gökçen Gökçe Kayalar

Gökçen Gökçe Kayalar Uzman Psikolog

Acute traumatic stress reactions of different severity and intensity may occur in individuals after epidemics, disasters or extraordinary events such as COVID-19. If we think especially in terms of COVID-19, in case of situations such as the process could not being controlled and the epidemic intensifies, shock reactions in individuals; excessive fear, panic or freezing reactions; forgetfulness, thoughtfulness and difficulties in concentration; startle and being vigilant; difficulty in logical thinking and decision-making, blunting of emotions; symptoms such as different, strange, unrealistic perception of the environment may require intervention. For this reason, stabilization techniques are used to reinstate individuals psychologically, to help maintain emotional calm and balance.

In situations like this where intense fear is experienced, it may not be easy to reach a mental health worker quickly. For this reason, one of the techniques that will provide quick support to those by the people nearby who can maintain their psychological well-being is a method called as the “Grounding Technique”. With the help of these techniques, it is aimed to direct the attention to the outside world, thereby balancing and stabilizing emotions.

The following is an easy-to-apply implementation guideline for adult individuals.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position, freeing your hands and feet.
  2. Start breathing slowly and deeply.
  3. Look around and say the name of the five objects that don't cause any discomfort or stress for you.
  4. Continue to breathe slowly and deeply.
  5. Now listen to the sounds you hear around and name the five sounds that don't cause any discomfort or stress for you.
  6. Continue to breathe slowly and deeply. 
  7. Now touch your hair, face and legs with your hands.
  8. And now try to pay attention to your bodily sensations and how you feel and name the five senses that do not cause you any discomfort or stress for you.
  9. Take your breath slowly and deeply.

A similar practice can be applied in a way that shorter and more understandable expressions are preferred when applied with children. In grounding practices for children, it is recommended to use colors when directing attention to external stimuli. For example, "Now look around while remaining sitting and name the five colors you see." "Do you see anything green here?" “How many yellow items are there?” ….

It should not be forgotten that; this technique is a technique that allows the person to quickly recover psychologically for a short time in moments when people are away from the sense of reality for a brief time; however, in cases of prolonged anxiety, it is necessary to get support from a mental health worker.

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