I recently reviewed everything I learned this summer when I earned my Trauma-informed Practices for Higher Education certification from Columbia College. I love synthesizing large amounts of data into simple, transferrable lessons, so I found myself able to think of helping hurting people in 3 ways (I call them them the 3 C’s):
People with trauma backgrounds, personal pain, or post-traumatic stress feel better when the three biggest stressors caused by trauma diminish. People in pain often experience uncertainty, isolation, and a lack of meaning, so when we build into their lives things that create certainty, that connect them to community, and that remind them of their contribution, we start to become a trauma-informed friend.
To create more certainty with someone, plan regular events, scheduled outings, and texts that occur at the same time each day. You want to add to a sense of certainty by being a predictable presence. This applies to parenting, teaching, or anything involving people, really. I’m learning to be predictably cheerful, predictably present, and predictably communicative. As a professor, I create certainty by class agendas, organized weekly plans, and class rubrics. I show up at the same time, respond to emails, and let students know what to expect.
To create community, help the people around you feel connected through great conversation, gatherings, and warm connections that fuel belonging. Articulate how people are valued, thought about, and missed when they aren’t present. Plan a weekly (certainty!) dinner or lunch with a group to support a hurting person.
To help a person understand their contribution, notice strengths, compliment talents, and talk in the language of purpose or personal mission. Remind people of how their presence adds to the world and help them dream about what they want to accomplish.
I love the 3 C’s as a parent and teacher, and I’m learning to create certainty, build community, and help think about a person’s contribution as a friend now, too.