"There's a deeper level of meaning as to what suffering's all about": experiences of religious and spiritual growth following trauma

Rosemary de Castella, Janette Graetz Simmonds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Some survivors of trauma report experiencing beneficial changes in self-perception, relationships, and philosophy of life, and positive changes in the realm of existential, spiritual, or religious matters. The purpose of the present study was to examine participants phenomenological experiences of spiritual and religious posttraumatic growth (PTG). Transcribed data from semi-structured interviews with 10 women, self-identified as Christian, who had experienced spiritual or religious growth following various trauma were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Results indicated how religion provided a framework that assisted participants to incorporate life changes, and to find meaning in their suffering. The most salient themes identified in relation to religious and spiritual PTG included: process of spiritual and religious growth, strengthening of religious and spiritual beliefs, and personal and spiritual growth and healing. Participants trauma and associated distress prompted a process of questioning and meaning-making that facilitated deeply experienced personal and spiritual growth, and was related to intrinsic religiosity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536 - 556
Number of pages21
JournalMental Health, Religion and Culture
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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