Spiritual Development Improves Resilience Against Trauma

trauma, spiritual development

Photo Credit: Cubmundo via Compfight cc

If you heard that spiritual development could reduce the impact of trauma or help you be stronger than before the trauma occurred, would you be interested in learning more about it?

You can experience trauma as a victim or a witness.

Adverse homes, war torn countries, violent communities and areas affected by natural disasters can cause trauma among it’s residents.

Do you understand the affects that trauma can have on brain development, the factors that lead to developmental delay and types of trauma among different cultures?

Getting Smart with Types of Trauma Across Cultures

A study found 80% of homeless children experienced at least one incident of trauma before becoming homeless. Out of those children,52% experienced multiple events of trauma. Most of these homeless youth were minorities. African-American youth resulted in almost half with 44%, followed by Hispanic-Latino at 25% and White/Caucasian at 17%. Boys are more likely to become homeless than girls. Almost 60% of these children were emotionally abused, 51% physically abused, and 33% sexually abused. Many children experience complex abuse which is more than one type of abuse. These children, after abandoning their homes, continued to experience abuse physically, verbally and sexually. Fear and shame in communities, society, cultures, and organizations impact the actual numbers of cases reported. For example, military men who experienced sexual trauma did not report incidents due to gender and cultural perceptions. Reports among children sexual abused in Europe 9 out of 10 were female and 6 out of 10 were white. We can only speculate the real numbers of incidents due to the lack of reporting and concrete data. A great deal of abuse and trauma in the world goes unreported. If you fall into this category and are afraid to report 1 Peter 5:7 provides some needed guidance, “Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” (ESV).

Factors about Developmental Delays Everyone Should Know

There are several factors that lead to developmental delay as a result of trauma. The lack of spiritual upbringing can result in far less protective barriers for anyone. In a study released in 2014, children who were not exposed to age appropriate social and cognitive development can have an increased risk of developmental delays which resulted originally from trauma. Communities that are less prepared and lack resources to combat trauma may see more developmental delays. These communities are usually violent communities and inner cities. They raise the risk of a developmental delay in a child before they are even exposed to any type of trauma. In these community settings children are experiencing poverty, drug use and crime. Just being a witness to these activities can be traumatic for anyone.

An Example of Growth to Inspire You

Childhood abuse is toxic and leads to many issues behaviorally and physically. Children who experience long-term stress during development of the limbic system have increased risk of behavioral illnesses. The limbic system is a collection of structures that connect to different parts of the brain. It is vital in controlling adrenaline, emotions, and storing long term memories. The limbic system begins to develop within the first year of a child’s birth and continues through adolescent. You may remember your risk-taking or highly emotional teenage years. That experience is the result of the heightened state of the limbic system which all adolescents go through. Disruption in the brains development can affect cognitive development. Some studies demonstrate that exposure to trauma can shape the brain to cope and increase resilience.  The coping results in better threat detection and flight responses. These results demonstrate that previous stimulation due to trauma can impact future events positively and negatively. In another study on veterans who experienced early life trauma found that the brain developed to deal with future trauma as if it was in survival mode.  The development created higher sensitivity levels which flipped threat awareness and flight triggers. A large factor in mindset growth or post traumatic growth is being able to grow from an experience rather than let it hold you back. Jane McGonigal did a fascinating TED Talk that demonstrates you can grow stronger from your traumatic experiences. She takes her own experience and shows how she improved her resilience.

 

Spiritual Development Helps Improve Your Resiliency

One study determined survivors of trauma will either run towards God or blame Him. Trauma changes an individual’s relationship with the Father. He can serve as the one who saves and cleanses that person who has experienced a traumatic event. Victims who experience trauma usually enter into a discovery mode with their spiritual struggles after a tragic event or series of events. Those who discuss their struggles show less risk of depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress symptoms. Additional reports reveal that spiritual coping leads to greater self-esteem and satisfaction in life. The community supporting the victim and the relationship they have with God before, during and after the trauma are tied to better adjustments and higher forms of resilience. Psalm 34:4 shows proof of what seeking the Lord can do for you, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” (ESV). Several studies reveal you can improve brain function as an outcome of prayer and meditation. Spiritual discipline assists in strengthening the brain. A large focus has been placed on the post treatment of traumatic events and the field of trauma specialist have become great at treatment. It would be exciting to see the development of pre-conditioning. The best way to battle traumatic events before they happen is to build an persons resilience and teaching first responders self-care when they come into contact with traumatic events.

Ideas to Talk About that Could Change Someone’s Life

There is no doubt that brain development is affected by trauma. There is research that suggest exposure can be beneficial to handling future trauma. Victims will continue to question their spirituality after a traumatic event. It is not our job to ask them “Why” but allow them to ask that question and find the answers in Him. With positive spiritual experiences, survivors can deepen their relationship with God. We should spend more time supporting victims and these communities that have had a positive influence on survivors. We should introduce their methods to bring better coping and resilience skills for everyone.  What is disturbing is that trauma among many cultures remains unreported and deterred because of shame and fear because of cultural views. This creates educated estimates on the number of people who suffer from trauma which are not reliable. To put the right resources in the right places we need to conduct studies on unreported incidents to determine if certain types of trauma among the different cultures exist. This would be beneficial in providing the right kind of prevention and care to locations where it is needed.

Bender, K. A., Thompson, S. J., Ferguson, K. M., Yoder, J. R., & Kern L. (2014). Trauma among street-involved youth. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders22(1), 53-64. doi: 10.1177/1063426613476093

Bryant-Davis, T., Ellis, M. U., Burke-Maynard, E., Moon, N., Counts, P. A., & Anderson, G. (2012). Religiosity, spirituality, and trauma recovery in the lives of children and adolescents. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice43(4), 306-314. doi: 10.1037/a0029282

Cook, F., Ciorcian, J., Varker, T., & Devilly, G. J. (2008). Changes in long term neural connectivity following psychological trauma. Clinical Neurophysiology120(2), 309-314. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2008.11.021

Corbo, V., Salat, D. H., Amick, M. M., Leritz, E. C. Milberg, W. P., & McGlinchey, R. E. (2014). Reduced cortical thickness in veterans exposed to early life trauma. Psychiatric Research: Neuroimaging223(2), 53-60. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2014.04.013

Goldsmith, E., Martin, C. G., & Smith, C. P., (2014). Systemic Trauma. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation15(2), 117-132. doi: 10.1080/15299732.2014.871666

Gostecnik, C., Slavic, T. R., Lukek, S. P., & Cyetek, R. (2012). Trauma and Religiousness. Journal of Religion and Health53(3), 690-701. doi: 10.1007/s10943-012-9665-y

Holmes, C., Levy, M., Smith, A., Pinne, S., & Neese, P. (2014). A model for creating a supportive trauma-informed culture for children in preschool settings. Journal of Child & Family Studies, doi: 10.1007/s10826-014-9968-6

Jacintho, C. A., Morita, C. T., Santos, T. M., Salan, T. M., Marmo, D. B., Zambon, M. P.,…Dalgalarrondo, P. (2010). Child sexual abuse: a socio-demographic and clinical of 19 cases treated at a university hospital. European Psychiatry25(1), 426. doi: 10.1016/s0924-9338(10)70422-3

Zenkert, R. L., Brabender, V., & Slater, C. (2014). Therapists’ Responses to Religious/Spiritual Discussion with Trauma Versus Non-trauma Clients. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy on the Cutting Edge of Modern Developments in Psychotherapy, 44213-221. doi: 10.1007/s10879-014-9264-1