Lived experience of spirituality and childhood trauma among four adult survivors, for whom spirituality was significant
Montford-Hildebrand, Randy Alan
Master of Social Work
SubjectChildhood trauma & spirituality
MetadataShow full item record
Study draws on the experience of 3 women and 1 man, from the Kenora (Northwestern Ontario) area, who experienced childhood sexual, physical, emotional or verbal abuse associated with physical illness, accidental injury, or family violence.The goal of this research is to explore the lived experience of spirituality and childhood trauma among four adult survivors, for whom spirituality is significant: In do so, the research explores both the influence childhood trauma had on the survivors’ spirituality, as well as the role spirituality plays in the their healing process. A phenomenological model of qualitative research is used to investigate the experience fi:om the perspective o f the participants. The collective experience is described using thematic analysis of the common and unique themes that emerged from open-ended interviews with each participant The participants reported that the immediate impact of childhood trauma experience(s) on their spirituality was varied. One participant found that an immediate positive influence of childhood trauma involved a strengthening o f her relationship with Spirit/God/Creator. Two other participants experienced unique extra-ordinary influences as a direct result of the trauma incident All of the participants experienced at least some degree of negative influence on their spiritual self. Spirituality played an extremely important part in the healing processes of all of the participants: influencing their mental, physical and emotional self; their relationships with other people; their relationships with Spirit/God/Creator. The participants were able to identify specific spiritual practices and processes that they used to support their healing process. The findings of this exploratory study suggest the following: spirituality may be a critical resource for the survivor in the healing process; the influence of childhood trauma and spirituality are dynamic and changing over time; there may be a reciprocal relationship between spirituality and childhood trauma where in, each has the capacity to influence the other, spirituality may provide the survivor with a framework of meaning; spirituality may be an integral part of the whole person; spirituality may be developed and nurtured in a multiplicity of ways. The implications for social work practice are as follows: social workers may want to consider addressing issues of spirituality with survivors of childhood trauma, as this is an aspect of the person that is influenced. In situations where spirituality is significant for the survivor, social workers may want to consider assisting the survivor to draw on the resource of the survivor’s spiritual capacity.