Religious beliefs, in some way or another, have touched most of our lives, whether we are deeply involved in a religious institution or have simply referred to God during the pledge of allegiance. Spirituality and religious practices can be big parts of our lives and mostly offer a safe, secure place to land when we are struggling or stressed. Research has found that people who rely on religious coping and spirituality after enduring a trauma fare better than those who do not. There is something about engaging that part of ourselves and our higher power that offers hope and healing.
While many religions adhere to stricter doctrines, spirituality can be seen as a spectrum that ranges from formal institutional rituals to a felt sense of connection to a sacred source that helps us make meaning out of personal experiences. For many people, these cannot be separated, but some may feel they are distinct practices.
Religious coping and spirituality offers support from a divine being, the higher power we are most connected with. This support can be a lifeline for people suffering from mental and physical illness or those who have been through trauma. If individuals are involved in a religious congregation, it can also offer support of the community around them. It can help us make meaning out of seemingly meaningless or traumatic events in our lives, which research has shown promotes resilience and well-being in the long-term.
Understanding our traumatic stories in the framework that our higher power is essentially good gives us hope for the future. We may even believe that our higher power was present at the time of the trauma or during our illness, and they will provide some sense of healing or justice for what we have been through. However it is we connect to spirituality, it can be a powerful tool in our healing.
If you are struggling or interested in learning more about spiritual coping tools and are in the Chicagoland area, free to contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000.
Written by Kathryn
2021 Graduate Intern
Resources: Bryant-Davis, T., & Wong, E. C. (2013). Faith to move mountains: Religious coping, spirituality, and interpersonal trauma recovery. American Psychologist, 68(8), 675.