Horbunova V. V. Support for persons exposed to trauma: the role of social environment.

(2016) Science and education, 5, 40-45. Odessa.

Victoriia Horbunova,
Doctor of Psychology, Head of the Department of Clinical Psychology,
Ukrainian Catholic University,
17, Ilariona Sventsitskoho Str., Lviv, Ukraine



The article deals with the issue of recovery and personal growth of people exposed to trauma events and who have post-traumatic disorders. This issue is considered to be relevant because there is the increase of traumatic events in current war situation in Ukraine. In addition, Ukrainians, especially those who live in war territory, have no opportunity to get professional assistance. In this situation, the main role in supporting the natural mental recovery processes belongs to people from the nearest social environment. A traumatic event causes a number of changes in the nervous system functioning, which can be manifested in nightmares, negative self-attitude, depression, aggression, or on the contrary, indifference. One should remember that none of these manifestations means abnormality or deviation. All of them are a normal psychological reaction to traumatic events. One of the significant factors of recovery after traumatic events is the support of relatives and close friends, their calm and encouraging attitude. A person who has experienced trauma becomes sensitive to different triggers (reminders about the event). Everything associated with a traumatic event can cause tension, anxiety, aggression, etc. People, their actions, words or phrases, concrete situations or just things, sounds, scents can act like triggers. Thus, the following peculiarities of behaviour are the signals meaning that one should consult a psychologist: if a person avoids communication and prefers to spend all the time in his/her “safe place (at home)”; if he/she refuses to think about the traumatic event, denies the facts which have taken place in his/her life in reality; loses his/her interests and hobbies, becomes indifferent to everything; manifests no interest in his/her relatives’ or friends’ life; misuses alcohol or drugs, etc. In such situations, close people should understand the symptoms and neurophysiological mechanisms of posttraumatic reactions. They should master the skills of socio-psychological support, which include psychological recovery, creating emotionally calm conditions for safe memories, refocusing on a certain kind of activity (finding new hobby, etc.).


posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic events, intrusions, avoidance, posttraumatic growth, nearest social environment.



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