Community and Faith-based Approaches

Faith and spirituality are frequently cited by trauma survivors as a primary support and a key to their healing.

Facts and Discussion Points

* Many survivors of abuse and trauma look to their spiritual leaders for guidance and healing.1

* Faith communities, prayer circles, and clergy are the primary source of support for trauma survivors in communities of color.2

* In addition to physical and psychological crises, traumatic experiences may generate spiritual crises, loss of faith, and questions of identity, meaning, and world-view.2

* For people who have strong religious belief systems, trauma-informed, faith-based responses are critical to successful recovery from trauma.2

* Spiritual leaders may lack knowledge in the area of trauma.2

* Some religious/spiritual leaders are actual perpetrators of trauma or they may protect perpetrators. This should be recognized and addressed.2

* A religious belief system may provide a framework by which survivors of traumatic events can construct a meaningful account of their experience, and may be a useful focus for intervention with trauma survivors.3

* Consumers suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder appear to benefit from psychosocial therapy and spiritual support, in conjunction with medication.4


1---Work with Catholic leaders to fund and collaborate with trauma experts in a public education campaign about interpersonal violence/abuse trauma, its long-term impacts, the consequences of unresolved trauma, the need to prevent child abuse, the need to intervene early, and the need to help adult trauma and abuse survivors get treatment.

2---Support education of clergy and lay leaders in all faiths regarding their role in responding to traumatized congregants, i.e. to recognize, counsel, and refer to trauma treatment, when appropriate.

3---Foster collaboration between clergy/denominational leaders and mental health service providers to de-stigmatize the acknowledgement of trauma, and to bring appropriate trauma services to the churches and faith-based service providers.


Community and Faith-Based Approaches References

1. Blanch, Ph.D. (personal communication, April 2002).

2. E. Giller (personal communication, April 2002).

3. Ogden, C. J., Kaminer, D., Van Kradenburg, J., Seedat, S., & Stein, D. J. (July 2000). Narrative themes in responses to trauma in a religious community. Central African Journal of Medicine, 46(7), pp. 178-84.

4. Niles, D. P. (November 1991). War trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. American Family Physician, 44(5), pp.1663-9.