It has been discovered that in the treatment of trauma, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the use of prayer is effective in promoting healing.
In particular, Miller (1999) found that some types of prayer were more effective than others in reducing distressing symptoms.
Contemplative prayer, focus on an intimate and personal relationship with God, and Colloquial prayer, conversing with God asking for general strength or guidance were more beneficial than Petitionary prayer (asking for specific needs to be met).
Most would probably have intuited this, but it's nice when there is research support.
Miller, W.R. (ed) (1999). Integrating spirituality into treatment: Resources for practitioners. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.
There is a popular treatment for PTSD called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)that spread like wild-fire in the mental health community a few year ago. This therapy combined a traditional cognitive-behavior and client centered approach with lateral eye movements. The idea behind it seemed to be that bilateral brain stimulation accelerated information processing and the patient would more quickly integrate painful memories.
In 2001, a meta-analysis of 34 studies concluded that EMDR is more effective than no treatment and therapist which don't use exposure to anxiety-provoking stimuli. However, EMDR is NO MORE EFFECTIVE than any other exposure technique. Apparently, the "eye movements integral to the treatment, and to its name, are unnecessary" (Davidson & Parker, 2001, p. 305).
"Exposure technique" means providing an environment where the patient can relive, recall, reexperience the traumatic event.
Davidson, P. R., & Parker, K. C. (2001). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): A meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 69(2), 305-316.
I recall the EMDR enthusiasm of a few years ago. So it's not so much in vogue any more?
Good topic. Thanks for starting a resource area on it.
I have met some who have greatly benefitted from the technique. After uncovering therapies, the peeling of the onion in layer after layer, some process may be helpful in guiding one toward forgiveness. I have chosen Tonglen as practiced and taught by Pema Chodron for those who have caused harm to myself and others, and those who in there ignorance and fear perpetuate great suffering in the world.
The Dalai Lama has used it to forgive the Chinese,
and I must use it frequently for authoritarians and others who dwell within the system's values.
There is a similar method in the Twelve Steps. It is called the Fourth Step Prayer.
"This was our course: we realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too. We asked God to show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick freind. When a person offended we said to ourselves, "This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done."
"We avoid retaliation and argument. We wouldn't treat sick people that way. If we do, we destroy our chance of being helpful. We cannot be helpful to all people, but at least God will show us how to take a kindly and tolerant view of each and every one."
Works when I work it.
There is research on the practice of forgiveness in the treatment of trauma. Dr. Enright has studied the moral developemnt of forgiveness and using it in the treatment of traumatic abuse.
From that Tonglen site you provide, I don't see anything about forgiveness.
I soo very much agree with you on seeing the abuser as a sick person. But it takes an *unusual maturity,* I've found, to be able to hold on to this awareness and compassion in many case of abuse.
God help us all!!
My breath therapist ( :-))) says that no matter how much we "affirm", no matter how much "positive thinking", the trauma has to be FELT and released and this is especially effective breathing "into" the pain.
Also, Peter Levine, author of "Waking the Tiger-Healing Trauma" says, in so many words, that one needs to feel the feelings and let it go... the energy needs to be discharged out of the body.
Katy -- That is in line with the wisdom of psychoanalysis also.
One thing to remember about forgiveness is that it doesn't imply restoration of a broken relationship. Restoration of an abusive relationship is another leg of the journey in healing from abuse issues, and for that, both parties need to be willing to work at it. Of course, this leg is often not possible in severe cases.
Also, some people are so fearful to go through the anger and rage of childhood abuse because they don't want to upset the current parent-child relationship. In Christian circles, one often sees a kind of compulsory and superficial forgiveness, and this is usually at the cost of a more genuine openness and intimacy. That's not a value judgment, just an observation.
The other thing about coping with childhood trauma is that there are is always agonizing mourning that needs to happen for the love the abused person did NOT get, not just processing the abuse. That is, the abused child was also very likely deprived. And years of deprivation, longing for the parents they never had, unconscious unmet needs all require a mourning process. We need to grieve what we did NOT get, not just what we lost.
Many people who have undergone long-term treatments will tell you that the grieving over what they didn't receive is more painful than facing direct abuse. This grief is best handled in the context of a warm therapy relationship where some degree of re-parenting can take place within professional boundaries.
Without this piece, I think it's hard for some people to march through the Twelve Step process, though one�s sponsor is sort of in that role of good parent.
Yes, I agree forgivness and grieving are part of the healing process too.
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