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Emotional First Aid

From the moment I watched the TED talk by Dr. Guy Winch, PhD (see below), it was like a light bulb flashing brightly in my practice. Think about this: If your child gets a cut or a scrape, you will look at it, assess the seriousness, and take the appropriate action based upon universally accepted principles of First Aid. What about when your child gets a sliver or a splinter? That’s a bit more tricky, right? We know it’s often going to be a struggle because in order to get it out, it’s likely going to hurt. But would we ever leave it in if we are capable of getting that splinter out?   

Being as I am a psychologist writing this, you can likely predict where I might be going with this line of thought. You guessed it! What is Emotional First Aid? What do we know about First Aid from these examples? What can we learn about Emotional First Aid from these examples?

Notice that there is a problem.

Find a trusted adult and ask them for help.  

Identify what needs to be done to make the wound better, safe, clean, and protected. Take appropriate action. Sometimes the action might cause a bit more pain temporarily (taking out a sliver – talking about something really difficult in a trusting, safe and caring environment), but this action is for the right reasons, and when it is over, the problem can be solved. Sometimes it takes time, but in that time, we check on the progress and make sure the wound is healing.  

It is important for us to know that emotional wounds need to heal, and can be healed.  

Dr. Guy Winch’s TED talk is available at TED.com. You can also check out his book, Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts.  

About Maline Glogauer

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