The use of spiritual resources to cope with trauma in daily existence
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The article explores the link between trauma and spirituality, and investigates whether and how spirituality can be used as a resource to address the needs of people in traumatic situations. The authors address the following questions: Why is it that spirituality and God himself may seem to make little or no sense to people who are experiencing trauma? Is spirituality an abstract concept that lacks practical relevance in crisis situations? Do peoples' understanding of God and what they believe about his nature and power affect their spirituality and determine how they understand God's intervention in coping with trauma? To answer these questions, the authors make use of the life history research method to analyse the case of Nokwazi Chiya, a Zulu woman who abandoned God and all spiritual support systems after the traumatic death of her fiancé. The findings demonstrate how traumatic events destroy not only the psychosocial aspects, but also the survivor's faith in a natural or divine order and cast the survivor into a state of existential crisis. The findings further show the role spirituality plays in enhancing the healing, recovery and developing resilience of trauma survivors. The study subsequently argues for an integrated approach to working through trauma, which brings spirituality into the psychotherapeutic dialogue - particularly in the South African context, where the majority of the population is exposed to various types of trauma. This integrated psychotherapy approach will have implications for the disciplines of practical theology and psychology or psychiatry, especially with regard to how we understand, assess and treat the needs of different people exposed to trauma and other existential crises.
- Faculty of Humanities