Blue Flower

Reduce the intensity as much as possible - for you and the other person

    •   Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Do it just before you speak.


    •   Speak calmly, softly and slowly: relax your body and voice.


    •   Tell them you are there with them. Reassure them you will
                help however you can. It's ok to tell them you don't know what
                to do or say but you care and you want to understand and help.


    •   You can say what you observe. For example, 'I can see that you
                are clearly upset' (e.g. angry, sad) or say what they say, use their
                words. Don't interpret or say what you think they are feeling.
                For example, if they say they feel overwhelmed, use that word.


    •   Be genuine: Do not talk to the person like a child. Even if they are a
                child, they are a person in intense distress.


    •   Don't judge what's happening. It's no one's fault; no one is to blame.


    •   Try to truly understand what the person is experiencing, from their
                perspective. If it's painful to listen, imagine how it is to feel it.


  •   This is the time to listen, not to assess, judge or push for solutions.
              You are not there to 'solve the problems for them' or 'fix things'.

Ask simple, respectful questions about what happened and your loved one's thoughts/feelings. 

  •   Use short simple sentences or questions.
  •   Be curious to know more and understand better.
            Helpful phrases:"Tell me more..." or "I'm curious-what does ... feel like"
  •   Do not try to talk them out of what they are experiencing- out of    delusions or hallucinations or feeling sad or anxious. This would only
            create mistrust. It's like someone telling you that you don't have a
  •   Ask how you can help your loved one feel safe, how you can support
  •   Try to find out what would help them feel more secure and in control.

For more ideas about how what to day, how to respond, go to More Ideas on How to Respond/Talk

Is the person in immediate physical danger? 
        Are they unwilling to seek care?
        If the answer is 'yes', it's time to involve professionals. 
           Call 911.

If the person is able to calm down a little, continue to make them feel safe right now.

If the person is willing to seek care, find out the details.

  • Is there a therapist, doctor or other care provider you can call?
              •  If the person already works with someone, ask their permission
                   to contact them for advice. 
              •  Make the call for them. 
              •  Summarize what is happening for the provider. 
              •  Ask/offer the phone to the loved one to continue the conversation
                    themself if they are able.
  • Ask what has helped with similar feelings situation in the past?
  • Do they have a written plan for these type of situations?
              •   Can you find it?
  • Do they have medication that helps in this kind of situation?
              •   Did they take it already? 
              •   When? How much?
  • Does the person want to go to a clinic or hospital for help? 
              •   Do they think they need to go? Are they willing to go? 
              •   Which one would they prefer (clinic or hospital?)
  • Is there someone they would like called now?
  • If they want to go to the clinic/hospital,
              •   Is there anything they would like to take with them? 
              •   When you get there, would they like you to stay with them or just
                   drop them off?


Last updated on 03/24/2015