This is a set of short guidelines for those of you who would love to know how to give emotional support but feel lost as to where to start.
This article is meant for the individuals that don’t necessarily contemplate the idea of becoming a psychologist, therapist or life coach but find that they would like to offer emotional support to somebody in need when there’s no other capable help around.
The general idea is to be compassionate and actually invested in their problems. Showing interest in their wellbeing is key. With that mood in your heart, here is a breakdown of the steps you should take:
Step 1: Inquire about their problem.
Step 2: Resist the urge to give your 2 cents immediately before continuing onto further steps.
Step 3: Figure out whether they want to just be listened to or whether they want advice. Inquire some more if you did not find out initially. (Most people want to be listened to foremost whilst finding a solution is a secondary goal)
If being listened to is their only goal, proceed to Step 4. If they are also seeking solutions, proceed to step 8.
If being listened to is their only goal:
Step 4: Hear them out. Do not give them solutions; they do not want them, at least not yet.
Step 5: Don’t be afraid to dig deeper into their personal issues. The vast majority of people want to reveal their deeper problems, but they are afraid that you don’t want to hear about it. Reassure them that you do.
Step 6: If you feel like you are about to overstep a boundary, ask for consent. Eg: “Can you tell me about xyz? It’s okay if you want to keep that for yourself though.”
Step 7: Let them speak their mind and have space. Steering the conversation with questions is okay, but let them have center stage.
If they are also seeking solutions:
Step 8: Begin with Steps 4-7. Even if they are also seeking solutions, they first need to feel heard, important and that their point of view is valid.
Step 9: Once you feel that the person is feeling validated, proceed to guide the person through either experiences you have personally had, or have researched for yourself, or whatever insight you may have on the situation. Check with them to see if the information you are giving them sits well with them.
Step 10: Intersperse asking for further details about their story or how they feel about the situation with your own insight. Make sure they remain center stage.
Step 11: Give them the free will to choose from yours or other people’s advice, or choose nothing at all. Never judge their decision!
how to give emotional support Case study:
Here is a case study of someone with an issue. I have hidden the analysis for each answer you may send to them so you can quiz yourself.
How can I get out of an emotional moment? I tried to write down what I am feeling but I don’t know if I am being a brat or I really am just mentally sick. I feel like I act like a kid sometimes and my head is hurting. I know this discord is not a diary but I really just need to write these thoughts down.
This does not make the person feel validated as you aren’t listening to their problem.
This is gaslighting as you are telling the person that the way they feel is wrong.
This does not make the person feel validated as you aren’t listening to their problem. It is also gaslighting as it makes them feel like they are wrong for feeling the way they feel.
This is taking the approach of listening first, which is validating. It makes them feel like what they have to say is important.
This case study has been taken from actual situations that have taken place in both ours and other personal development discords: