Inside Disruption Blog

Bouncing Back from a Critical Incident

Dennis Potter
February 12, 2015

“I thought I’d get over this a whole lot faster.” You hear it all the time.


People are amazingly able to recover. Most of us get over traumatic experiences in a pretty short time, just as we heal from physical injuries and illnesses. After a shocking event, it often seems to take longer than we expect. The overwhelming majority of people bounce back in time, but still, it can be a surprise how long the discomfort seems to last.


When will they finally feel better? That is always the big question and it depends on the nature of the critical incident, on how deeply they were impacted, how they normally cope with adversity, and how hard they work to feel better sooner. Fortunately, people can do some things that actually seem to “speed up” the recovery process from a critical event.


The way to get started is to get started. There dozens of exercises, tips, and tools that people who have experienced a similar situation have found valuable. Some may seem ridiculously simple while others can be fairly challenging. The key to every one of them, though, is just to start trying them.


Bouncing back is up to the person. They are not responsible for the things that may have happened, but are responsible for how they respond to them. So encourage them to use these tools – knowing that sometimes they really may not feel like it. Recovery is an active process that only they can set in motion.


Remind them that:

  • Doing even a tiny bit is better than doing nothing
  • Allowing yourself time and being tolerant of your recovery
  • Setting realistic goals to get done each day
  • It’s also realistic to establish your idea of a new “normal”


What kinds of suggestions do you give people to help them get back to pre-incident functioning?

Dennis Potter