Some months ago a ministerial colleague, knowing that I am a licensed clinical social worker, mentioned to me that our denominational judicatory needed to get involved with “Emotional First Aid.” I pleaded ignorance and admitted that I had never heard of it. So this same colleague touted its concept stating it was a technique that she had been training in and that she thought had applications for training lay counselors in churches. My friend reasoned that because faith communities are often the first place that its members seek psychological, as well as spiritual help, it would be important for local congregations to have “emotional first aid kits.” Therefore, she continued stating that training teams to help members with their emotional struggles was a great idea. Certainly it was one means of fulfilling one vision that most faith communities have in establishing safe inclusive places where individuals can heal from their spiritual and psychological wounds.
Now since that conversation with my friend, I had another friend send me a link to Guy Winch’s TED talk, entitled, “Why we all need to practice emotional first aid,” which was filmed on November 2014. Winch published his book, Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts within the last year (Plume, 2014) also. Guy Winch, Ph.D., himself is a practicing psychologist in Manhattan. In addition, Psychology Today has now picked up the topic of Emotional First Aid (https://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201307/emotional-first-aid)
Winch offers, secular and religious folks alike, practical wisdom in his book and TED Talks. His premise is that although most of us go to the doctor readily if we have an ache or a pain, we are more reticent to get psychological help for our emotional wounds and hurts. Thus, Winch’s book offers specific step-by-step treatments that are prescriptive, unique, as well as simple and effective. He tackles the emotional wounds that most humans struggle with regarding the need to let go of hurts, anxiety, building self-esteem, and becoming more resilient.
So at last, just what is an emotional first aid kit? It is a first aid kit that can be utilized to talk to individuals in a nonprofessional setting to enable them to feel more connected. In other words, in the emotional tool kit are:
- Strategies for conflict resolution
- Strategies for increasing contentment
- Strategies for building confidence
- Strategies for reducing anxiety
- Strategies for increasing human connectivity