Human brains are really good at reading into a situation. Historically, if the bushes rattled, the guys who imagined a tiger behind them could take defensive action. It’s a great trait. …and it can lead us to make up what’s happening.
Inviting a participant to describe only the bare facts can sometimes help them to realize there might be additional interpretations of a given situation. Be sure to do this in a way that lets them know you understand that they are upset. You can provide empathy for their feelings and concerns while still helping them see different interpretations.
Ask things like:
- Can you describe exactly what happened?
- Describe only the physical events without interpretation.
- What can you be really sure happened?
You can use this to describe what the situation looks like to you from the outside. E.g. “I’m dying!” “I can see you’re concerned. The medic checked you out and determined that you are breathing well. Would you like to get checked again?”