Guiding Your Team Through Traumatic Events

Recent violent incidents have left us all in a state of shock and disbelief. It is moments like these that remind us of the fragility of life, and the importance of supporting one another in times of trauma. As we grapple with the aftermath of such distressing events, it’s crucial to understand how to effectively support our staff members and colleagues through these trying times.

Distress and intense emotional reactions are natural responses to mass violent events. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that individuals may react differently to such traumas.

While some may experience a rollercoaster of emotions, others may find it challenging to process the events at all. Most individuals will gradually recover from the initial shock, while some may experience anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Those directly exposed to the trauma, including witnesses, first responders, and those who lost loved ones, are understandably more susceptible to prolonged emotional distress. Additionally, individuals with a history of psychological challenges or traumatic experiences may be more vulnerable to the impact of such events.

Here are some essential strategies for effectively guiding colleagues through trauma:

1) Respect their privacy and boundaries

While extending support, it’s essential to respect the privacy and boundaries of our colleagues. Recognise that they may not be ready to disclose the details of their trauma immediately. Give them the space to dictate the pace of their healing journey, and refrain from applying undue pressure. Respecting their boundaries shows that we truly care about their feelings and recovery.

2) Extend practical assistance

Ordinary tasks can become overwhelming for our colleagues during difficult times. Offering practical assistance, such as lightening their workload, covering shifts, or coordinating support from other team members can make a tangible difference. By alleviating their immediate burdens, we enable them to focus on their recovery without adding stress of work-related responsibilities.

3) Provide access to professional resources

While our support is invaluable, it’s essential to acknowledge that we are not trained therapists. Encouraging our colleagues to seek professional help when necessary is paramount. Equipping them with information about available resources such as Employee Assistance Programs and trauma support services can be beneficial.

4) Practice patience and empathy

Navigating the aftermath of trauma is a nuanced process, and recovery timelines vary from person to person. Cultivating patience and displaying empathy towards our colleagues is essential. Avoid pressuring them to expedite their healing process and instead offer unwavering support throughout their journey.

5) Steer clear of gossip and speculation

Respecting our colleagues’ privacy also entails refraining from engaging in gossip or speculation about their trauma with other team members. Sharing sensitive information can exacerbate their distress and compromise their sense of trust. Maintaining confidentiality and focusing conversations on providing support are essential components of our role as supportive leaders and colleagues.

6) Foster a supportive workplace culture

Building a workplace culture rooted in support and solidarity is essential for aiding colleagues who are coping with trauma. Encouraging open communication and fostering empathy and a sense of companionship among team members will contribute to a psychologically safe environment. Demonstrating the availability of support resources underscores our commitment to creating a workplace where everyone feels valued and supported.

In times of turmoil, guiding our team members and colleagues through trauma is of paramount importance. We can stand united, extend compassion and understanding as we support one another through the healing process.

While extending support to others, let’s also prioritise our own wellbeing. By tending to our psychological and emotional needs, we ensure that we can continue to serve as pillars of strength and support for those around us. Together, we can cultivate a workplace where colleagues feel empowered to overcome life’s adversities, no matter how formidable they may seem.


The information provided in this document is general in nature and is intended to be used for information purposes only. While we have tried to ensure the accuracy of the information published, no guarantee can be given that the information is free from error or omission or that it is accurate, current or complete.

The information published is not, and should not be relied on as, health or treatment advice. The diagnosis and treatment of any mental illness requires the attention of a physician or other properly qualified mental health professional. If you are seeking diagnosis or treatment of any other mental illness, you should consult a physician or mental health professional. You should not delay in seeking, or disregard, professional health advice because of something you have read in this document.