Help your kids heal. If you have kids who have been traumatized, help them heal. Don’t fall apart yourself, speculate on matters about which you’re not sure, judge what ought to be or should have been, interrogate your kids with constant questioning, clam up, overreact to anger your kids express, or withdraw support from them. Instead, d allow them to talk, show warmth and acceptance, listen well, respect their privacy, show understanding, make helpful suggestions, be there when they need you, encourage them to express their emotions, give them opportunities for creative expression, correct their myths and magical thinking, allow them to respond to trauma in their own ways (not necessarily as you do), normalize their reactions and feelings by reassuring them, encourage them to be patient with themselves, and return them to their normal childhood routines as soon as possible.

Build a healing church. Let your gratitude for the healing you’ve experienced in your own life motivate you to help other people who have gone through trauma. Do all you can to help build a healing environment at your church, where traumatized people can feel safe to come to pursue God and fellowship with other believers. Accept one another; listen to people’s stories; be willing to cry, hug, and pray with hurting people; and serve people by working to meet some of their practical needs. If you’re a pastor, talk about trauma openly and declare God’s power to heal people from it. If you’re a small group leader, refer people to trained counselors to help find deep healing, while still encouraging them as you can within the context of your small group. If you’re a worship leader, choose songs and Bible passages that help people focus on the healing power of the cross. Plan Communion often, and give people time to pray about their past traumatic experiences. Be patient with people who don’t change right away, just as God is patient with you.

Adapted from Surviving the Storms of Life: Finding Hope and Healing When Life Goes Wrong, copyright 2008 by H. Norman Wright, Matt Woodley, and Julie Woodley. Published by Regal Books, a division of Gospel Light, Ventura, Ca., 
H. Norman Wright is a licensed marriage, family and child therapist. He served on the faculty of Talbot School of Theology at Biola University’s Graduate Department of Marriage, Family and Child Counseling. He is the best-selling author of more than 70 books including Communication: Key to Your Marriage and Always Daddy’s Girl. Norm and his wife, Joyce, have been married more than 40 years and live in Bakersfield, California. 
Matt Woodley is senior pastor at The Three Village Church in Long Island, New York. 
Julie Woodley, a certified trauma counselor, is founder and director of Restoring the Heart (, a ministry for those who are wounded through life events.