Individuals undergoing overstimulation or emotional crisis often reach out towards anything they see as “solid” in order to reorient themselves with the world.
- If the participant becomes agitated, remain calm; they will be looking to follow your example and may be testing you, their “solid” object. Sometimes distracting them, with calm redirection of their attention will help, which can be good. But sometimes a person does best focusing on and working through whatever is agitating them.
- If the participant is experiencing the distorting or confusing effects of a particular substance, remind them that the experience is temporary.
- Encourage participants to describe what’s going on: what they see, hear, and feel. Invite them to draw or write to help them get it down.
- Narrating your own action can help a participant feel in control, creating a sense of a predictable world. Ex: “I’m going to sit down now. Would you like to sit too? I’m thirsty; I’ll have a drink of water. Do you want some? This bottle is sealed – you can open it yourself. I need to call my friend on the radio.” Reality anchor is partly showing them what the situation looks like to a sane and caring person; which isn’t always how they’re seeing it themselves.
- Be engaged, but don’t try to act as though you are there with them. You don’t “know how they feel”.
- Don’t try to guide a participant’s experience. Let their experience guide your questions. Talk through, not down.
- If YOU are uncomfortable (tired, hungry, bored), the participants will pick up on it – so self-care is vital . They can also smell disingenuity: keep it real, and focused on their tomorrow being okay. Being present really is often enough.