Offering emotional support: five strategies

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Offering emotional support: five strategies

Here is a "first aid kit" to offer emotional support in situations of despair.

Last update: February 18, 2022

It is likely that on more than one occasion we have been near a loved one when he was in a negative emotional state; we tried to offer emotional support and support. Often, however, we have felt unable to really and effectively help her.

From a literary point of view, emotional support can be understood as "establishing a personal relationship between the afflicted person and the person who wishes to help, with the aim of making the first person find tranquility and support, creating a climate of trust, reducing fears and anxieties, favoring the expression of her emotions and helping her to adapt to the problem " (Alsace, Duedahl et al., 1987).



"If you need a hand, remember I have two."

-Sant'Agostino-

For those who are not a specialist in the sector, however, doing so is not always easy. Here is a "first aid kit" to offer emotional support in these situations.

Tips for offering emotional support

1. Look for a suitable place

You have to find a comfortable place, free of distractions such as television, radio, cell phones, other people, where those in need of support feel safe and where the dialogue, once started, does not risk being interrupted by external factors.

2. Active listening, without judgments

Listen carefully it is one of the best strategies for offering emotional support. Often the person needs someone to help them build a story of what she has lived: a story that he can integrate into her story and that she can live with.



On the other hand, listening does not mean giving solutions. Perhaps we know how we would have behaved in the other person's place, but we must keep in mind that every experience is subjective and determined by a series of particular and personal elements. At the same time, in building his story together, we will have to exclude as many elements that are the fruit of his imagination. The feelings he describes to us, such as shame, may not have been real.

"The purpose of human life is to serve, to show compassion and to have the will to help others."

–Albert Schweitzer–

3. Be empathetic to offer emotional support

As we know, empathy is nothing more than a kind of utopia: it is impossible to put yourself in the shoes of others. This, however, doesn't mean you shouldn't try to understand what's going on from his point of view (rather than analyzing the situation from your own). When we do, however, we do not forget to be cautious: this exercise is by definition imperfect.

If the person starts crying, let him express this emotion. To cry it is one of the best ways to express emotions and heal the soul. It is one of the best ways to say: "I am a human being and I need your company". Don't try to stop crying, otherwise you risk making the other feel misunderstood or embarrassed.

4. Show affection

Affection is almost never too much. It can be a simple comment to the other, a signal that we have listened to him, the message that even after his journey / story we will stay there with him. That affection that can materialize in the form of a hug, but also as a gesture or simply in words.


“Helping is an art. Like any other art, it implies a skill that can be acquired and exercised. And it is also necessary to identify with those seeking help; the perspective is therefore what corresponds to it and what, at the same time, goes beyond, towards something broader. "


-Bert Hellinger-

5. Seek information and the help of a professional

Professional help from qualified specialists is always an option to consider, although there will be situations where it is more necessary than others.

Fortunately, today's society has stopped considering the psychologist as an exclusive remedy for "crazy" people. In reverse, Anyone who loves themselves and wishes to preserve their mental health goes there.

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