Psychological support, necessary for almost all people as they make their ways through life, does not need to be a service paid for, or provided in the rooms of a meeting or counseling session, or even established by an official appointment to be healthy, healing or helpful. A conversation with an old friend or even the smile of a stranger might be enough of a spark of connection to be of psychological support to the person needing the assistance. Psychological support can be formal or informal, intimate or between relative strangers or an inner versus an outer-based experience. Regardless of its characteristics, it can be classified as supportive if it helps, instructs or reinforces a person's coping skills.
Examples of formal types of psychological support systems could be a parenting class, meeting with a religious leader, a counseling appointment with a therapist or participation in a group meeting such as Alcoholics Anonymous®. Each of these interactions provides a means for a stressed or troubled person to express his feelings and garner feedback from other participants, the teacher or the counselor regarding appropriate and healthy responses. In some cases, simply receiving validation that he is not the only individual undergoing such stresses or feeling such emotions provides the psychological support. Other situations might require concrete action, instruction or feedback for the stressed person to process. Within such formal support systems, the individual is afforded the time for self-expression and learning helpful reactions in future situations.
Meeting a friend for lunch, having dinner with family or running with an exercise buddy are examples of informal types of psychological support situations. Psychological support can be as helpful informally as in formal situations if the stressed person is helped to cope with life situations in a healthy way. Often, the reinforcement of a person's social support network is enough to provide positive feedback and supportive measures without discussing the details of a situation as might be expected in formal systems. It is often necessary to remind troubled individuals of the very real need and importance of an informal support system. These types of supports are often the first to be sacrificed in a busy lifestyle.
Formal and informal social support systems are not the only types of psychological support. Prayer, meditation or introspection can be of value if the stressed individual is a believer in a particular faith. Pets, too, can provide invaluable emotional and psychological support to those lucky enough to share a home with them. Those requiring such support need only reach out in most situations.