Resources for those close to people with PTSD?
June 16, 2008 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Good literature and resources for learning to help and support someone with PTSD?

Someone I care about has been diagnosed with PTSD, a result of the abuse they endured in childhood. This person is receiving professional help, but as a close friend I'd like to learn about how to best offer them care, support and understanding during their therapy and healing. I'm not asking for direct advice about that here. Instead I'm hoping to be directed to useful resources for the inexperienced.

I'm not at all qualified in mental heath care or psychology. From what I've read so far, PTSD seems a complicated and difficult condition. I'd be very grateful for pointers and links to good articles, books, websites or other resources, so I can learn more. There's a lot on the web, but I feel poorly qualified to judge the value of much of it.

Resources oriented to those caring for people with PTSD would be especially appreciated, but anything enlightening from reputable sources will be very welcome. Thanks very much.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You don't specify what kind of abuse your friend survived, but if it was sexual abuse, I would recommend Beginning to Heal: A First Book for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis. It's addressed to survivors rather than supporters, but having a basic understanding of what survivors experience, how they heal, and what helps them would be helpful for you too. It's a short and easy to read book, which talks about the stages of healing, common reactions, coping strategies and has lots of quotes and stories from survivors. As a survivor of incest myself, this book has been invaluable.

A different sort of book (still not specifically for supporters--sorry!) is Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman. This is a more academic book, talking about the history of psychological understandings of trauma. It's often described as "groundbreaking" and it does a really good job of explaining what trauma is, how it's caused, what the effects are and how people heal from it.

It's great that you want to learn how to best support and understand your friend. Best of luck to you both!
posted by overglow at 7:10 PM on June 16, 2008

Waking the Tiger is a book I've heard of but have not read.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:18 PM on June 16, 2008

Maybe try reading some blogs written by people with PTSD to get a better overall picture of the sort of impact it can have on a person's life. Sometimes the personal, intimate stories give a depth that no DSM or self-help book can. Besides, your loved one has a professional. What she likely needs most from you is patience, understanding, and an uncritical ear. Kudos to you for caring enough to look into this and try to give her what she needs.
posted by notashroom at 9:02 AM on June 17, 2008

Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal by Belleruth Naparstek was tremendously helpful for me. The first half explains PTSD, causes, gives some case studies. The second half focuses on guided imagery as a means of healing.

The thing I really liked about the book was that it didn't just focus on combat-related PTSD. There were case studies about people who were in car accidents, were raped, had major illnesses, all sorts of situations. You'd be surprised at how many books gloss over people who weren't shot at. I can remember at least one specific patient the author mentions who was a victim of child abuse.

Good luck to you. You're doing a great thing.
posted by giraffe at 9:23 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

One more suggestion: has a list of recommended books for folks dealing with PTSD, including Coping With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Guide for Families, which seems like the most relevant item on the list for you.
posted by notashroom at 9:27 AM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

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