How to act in the face of a traumatic event?

We can cite an earthquake, an accident, an attack or a more intimate shock such as a personal failure, humiliation or betrayal... Following such events, post-traumatic stress is not automatic; 9% of people exposed develop a disorder as soon as their attempts at a solution to get out of it are dysfunctional...


Post-traumatic stress is qualified as such after 4 weeks of acute stress, characterized by strong disturbances, disorientation, new emotions. Functional regulation is no longer done. After the shock, there will be disorder, disarray, confusion, sadness, pervasive fear, anger that will transpire and turn into aggression. The confusion takes the form of an attempt to control to find meaning.  

Then comes the guilt accompanied by existential doubts and a painful loss of meaning. If the symptom persists, consult. It is important in such cases to identify in oneself or in others disabling or inappropriate signs that determine the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress.  

The care and the actual intervention of a therapist is a help for the patient to regain the upper hand. But this help must be provided with the necessary perspective and avoiding any haste because there is an obvious weakening of the individual that it is not a question of aggravating.

In the workplace, care must be taken not to resort to too rapid mobility or separation, which would only make the person's situation worse. Waiting without intervening would lead to avoidance and contribute to the deterioration of the situation. Trying to rationalize the symptoms would lead to quitting with identical effects.

The framework for psychological action must promote resilience. You have to tame the trauma, the wound that formed with brutality and persists in a darkened present and a future that has become unthinkable.

 Helping to cope is normalizing the trauma. It is not abnormal to be bad, to be revolted, helpless and to see the future with the "black" eyes of the present; what is abnormal is the event that one has experienced. All reactions have their place; some need to talk, others to go back to work, still others to stay at home.

The more we are shaken, the more we need comfort.

 If in such circumstances (and in others), we want to protect traumatized people and be welcoming, we must be careful not to overprotect them because they have to cope for a long time.

Comfort can be brought by listening, being present. It is good to encourage them to return to work, to get moving, provided that they are provided with relaxation spaces for an adjustment to the rhythm that they need. All the changes in behavior and attitude of the patient will then be observed. How will the person manage their stress? It is important that she understands that she is not doomed to live with this trauma.

When one has to face, one experiences one's vulnerability with which one confronts; taking care of yourself is a first act of strength.

In relation to these situations, the responses we provide are first of all an operational diagnosis, the definition of a strategic issue, an adapted strategic communication, adjusted relational attitudes, psychological actions and support workshops.