Trauma has the potential to have a lasting effect on the lives of many who experience them and their families, most especially childhood trauma. Research shows that most victims who go through trauma during their earlier stages of life, experience even more violence as they get older and encounter many mental and developmental delays. To overcome the types of challenges that come with trauma, it is important for one to develop resiliency. Studies show that resiliency can be developed and fostered through the support of social groups and mental health and social services.
However, there has also been notified of a growing correlation between the building and participation of resilience and their spirituality. This paper will discuss the definition of trauma and the types of developmental challenges that may come with it. This paper will also discuss the definition of resiliency and its importance to overcoming trauma. Lastly, this paper will conclude with how one’s spirituality can be an important instrument for someone who is healing from childhood trauma.
According to Merriam-Webster (2019), trauma is defined as an injury to living tissue caused by an extrinsic agent or a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury. Trauma can be caused by many factors such as accidents, health procedures, sexual and physical abuse, and even exposure to violence or substance abuse (van der Kolk, 2005).
The experience of trauma has been normalized throughout the years and but in some cases, are more severe and experience development complications due to its exposure at an earlier stage in their life (van der Kolk, 2005). In these cases, trauma becomes more tolerable to children, creating neural pathways based on their social interactions and even the perpetrators of their trauma (van der Kolk, 2005). The integration of sensory, cognitive, and emotional information can be interrupted or delayed due to repeated stress (van der Kolk, 2005). According to research, complex, or chronic trauma is correlated to higher rates of violent offenses, and the need for mental, correctional, and medical services (van der Kolk, 2005). Children in constant duress do not develop the ability to overcome feelings of helplessness and lack self-control (van der Kolk, 2005). Many traumatized children do not learn how to regulate their own emotions, experience developmental delays in language, motor, and socialization skills (van der Kolk, 2005). These skills are vital for a healthier childhood development; social skills set the foundations for all future interactions (Wong, Hall, Justice, & Hernandez, 2015). It would be to inference that these types of developmental issues would have a grievous impact on the adult lives of those children.
Successful adaptation to the environment outside of traumatic or threatening situations is at the core of resiliency (Wong, et al., 2015). Resiliency utilizes a set of skills, including mental, emotional, and social aspects of development to overcome obstacles (Wong, et al., 2015). Resiliency can be fostered in many ways, typically in a proactive stance (Wong, et al., 2015). In a typical parent-child relationship, it is the parent who models resiliency for the child, fostering it through teaching ways to cope, positive thinking, problem-solving, and even recognizes personal strengths (Wong, et al., 2015). However, in cases where complex trauma is the norm for a child, and most likely caused by the caregivers, resiliency may not be fostered, leading to the outcomes discussed earlier. These children often require additional outside assistance, via mental health services (Keyser & Ahn, 2017). In fact, children that experienced maltreatment or complex trauma at an early age struggle with developmental delays and mental health disorders that turns into a higher need for services (Keyser & Ahn, 2017). This may come in the form of social services, or child warfare services, also linking with in-school counselors to aid children (Keyser & Ahn, 2017). Wong, et al., (2015) suggested that community-based interventions can be utilized as well and could provide key services for children and their families. Other measures have also been explored in research and could provide a pivotal breakthrough for children and families that have experienced trauma and developmental issues.
Brewer-Smyth and Koenig (2014) have researched links in spiritually promoted resiliency in children dealing with complex trauma. Participation in religious or spiritual events, such as prayer or bible studies, have shown a decrease in cortisol levels during stressful situations (Brewer-Smyth & Koenig, 2014). Additionally, participants in religious activities have shown resiliency in the form of optimism, social support, humor, and active coping (Brewer-Smyth & Koenig, 2014). Organizations that promote mind renewal, or redirection of traumatic thoughts to protective ones, have shown promise to build resiliency in participants (Brewer-Smyth & Koenig, 2014). Research shows that participation in spirituality has prevented suicide, decreased hostility, and encouraged forgiveness (Brewer-Smyth & Koenig, 2014). These types of support systems could be a helpful and cost-efficient way to foster resiliency in survivors of childhood trauma, as they typically are free and open to the public (Brewer-Smyth & Koenig, 2014).
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