As part of my diploma, I completed a small research on trauma and faith. The idea to research this subject came from past experiences when I have observed people with faith recover easily from a traumatic events whereas someone else struggled more, and I wondered what makes the difference?
How does a traumatic event impact faith? How does faith impact our reaction to a traumatic event? Can faith lower the risk of developing mental health issue following exposure to a traumatic event?
The impact of a traumatic event needs to be seen not as a single point of impact but as an on-going process. The event shatters what is known and understood in life and the after, will then been seen through the lens of the event, ‘the storm is gone but “after the storm” is always here’ (Rambo, 2015:7).
Traumatic events overwhelm the normal understanding of life and its meaning. It confront us to death, it encompass not only the event itself but also the aftermath of the event, ‘trauma is an open wound, an experience of death that has not ended’ (Rambo, 2015:13). The human reaction to a traumatic event is complex and integrate body and mind, and as such, spirituality too. The way we are able to integrate and/or make meaning of the event will impact on our future mental wellbeing.
In this series of blogs, I will look at some of the ways that we process trauma from a spiritual perspective such as:
Meaning Making: the process of looking for meaning in difficult moments. Faith can help people make sense of what happen to them and giving a meaning to a situation can help to regain control by reinterpreting the event and gaining control of their emotions.
Religious coping: This process is different from a defence mechanism, it involves a choice. There is 6 types of religious coping which I will go into more details later.
Moral injuries: This is a response to being forced to do something that in another context is viewed as immoral, or something that goes again some deeply held values. Signs of moral injuries include difficulty forgiving self, loss of beliefs and meaning in life, reduce trust, guilt and shame.
I will also be looking at the place of the relationship with God in the recovery process and how as a counsellor I support client.
Pargament, K. (1997) The Psychology of Religion and Coping. New York: Guildford Press.
Rambo, S. (2015) Spirit and Trauma. Interpretation: A journal of Bible and Theology, 69:1, 7-19.
Harris, J. I., Erbes, C. R., Engdahl, B. E., Olson, R. H. A., Winskowski, A. M., McMahill, J. (2008) Christian Religious Functioning and Trauma Outcomes. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 64:1, 17-29.