How Psychological First Aid Can Be An Effective Solution To Reduce PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder is not a condition exclusive to individuals that have experienced a terrorist attack or natural disaster. PTSD is a mental health condition that develops after a traumatic event; whether the individual witnessed it or experienced it themselves. If you or someone close to you is struggling with PTSD, you may feel powerless to find effective solutions, despite your best efforts. 


The American Journal of Psychiatry stated in 2017, that shortly after a traumatic event has occurred, it is crucial that individuals affected are provided with sensible psychological support based on compassion and empathy. Psychological first aid (PFA) has become that effective solution to aid those suffering following the stressful event by reducing the frequent effects and occurrence of PTSD. In this article, Somatic Psyche will examine PFA further and how it’s helping individuals with PTSD.

How Psychological First Aid Works

Psychological first aid is essentially the psychological bind to physical first aid. PFA is an empathic and supportive presence committed to doing these three things for the individual:

  1. Stabilize the individual by preventing stress from regressing.
  2. De-escalate and manage acute distress.
  3. Find access to additional, supportive care for individuals.


Psychological first aid does require specific training and certification in order to have the symptoms of PTSD effectively reduced. PFA is equally as vital to the well-being and general health of an individual as physical first aid. The following are the four essential steps to the PFA strategy:


  • Developing Sense of Safety: Your fight or flight system responds and acts when it believes it is experiencing a stressful situation. Developing a sense of safety can be accomplished by shielding the individual away from the scene distressing them and reassuring them that they are safe. By showing the patient what has been done to make the scene and situation safe, it can stimulate calm and a sense of safety.
  • Emphasizing Calm: Prior to responding to the scenario and during it, the PFA process stresses the importance of always speaking and acting calmly while conversing with the patient. Inhaling for four seconds, holding for another four and exhaling for four can soothe the body and the mind.
  • Form Connection: By forming a connection, this helps the patient become open to the support around them and likely access additional support afterwards. Using the name of a loved one or even a pet during the rescue and PFA process can have effective results.
  • Create Hope: Creating hope can help ease a stressful, tragic situation with the belief that things can improve. Pointing to specific accurate or, if possible, positive aspects about the scenario and planning new steps and create hope for imminent healing.

Somatic Psyche offers trauma counselling and psychotherapy in Vancouver to help individuals struggling to heal these harmful wounds and reduce the painful symptoms. If you’re tired of feeling this way and want to begin living a much easier life, Daphne Georghiou is a licensed individual, marriage and family therapist that can help. Contact me for a free consultation at