Why Your Spiritual Practice Should be Trauma-Informed

As I’ve discussed before, there is no regulatory body in spirituality that is designed to protect people from harmful practitioners, harmful ideas, and harmful environments. That means it’s up to us as a community to police ourselves and take on the responsibility of creating an environment where people can truly do the healing we claim to provide.

In order to do this, we have to first understand exactly what we are dealing with when it comes to the life experiences that our clients may have had.

It is estimated that 80% of Americans will experience a traumatic event at least once in their lives. Before the age of 18, 46% of children will have experienced at least one traumatic event. 22% will be sexually abused. 28% will be physically abused.

  • More than half of people who seek psychiatric care have experienced childhood trauma.
  • In two-thirds of individuals suffering from alcoholism, the addiction is directly attributed to childhood trauma.
  • 75% of women in substance abuse treatment have been sexually abused or raped at some point in their life.
  • Individuals with a history of trauma are at a significantly increased risk of further victimization in adulthood.
  • Individuals who have experienced a traumatic event are more likely to have been incarcerated. In California, 70% of prisoners have been in foster care at some point in their lives, meaning they were subjected to neglect or abuse significant enough to require their removal from their biological parents.
  • More than one in three women and one in four men have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.
  • Exposure to trauma also correlates with a statistically significant decrease in life expectancy, and a higher rate of developing physical diseases like liver disease, COPD, and autoimmune deficiency.

These stats came from an online trauma information course I recently completed.

After seeing these statistics, it’s pretty clear that we live in a society of traumatized people, and in fact, many of our society’s cultural norms which are rooted in sexism, homophobia, and racism can be traumatizing to those they oppress.

As a spiritual practitioner, healer, or coach, you are working with traumatized individuals every day, whether you know it or not, and whether they are aware of it or not. We have to presume that all individuals we serve have a history of some type of traumatic event and amend our practices accordingly. It is our responsibility, as someone who is helping them heal, to understand trauma, triggers, signs of a trauma response, etc. so that we can create the most caring, compassionate environment for them to heal in, instead of re-traumatizing them or compounding that trauma.

That requires taking a hard look at ourselves, our beliefs, and our biases. Many mainstream spiritual beliefs and concepts are absolutely TOXIC to trauma survivors, and practitioners who don’t understand what trauma looks like risk abusing their clients, and abusing their power over clients.

Learn more about spiritual abuse.

If you haven’t learned to work through your own trauma, you can’t work with someone else’s.

There’s not a lot of resources out there for this, but I’ve worked fairly diligently to create as many as possible on my website via my blogs and redefining spiritual terms/concepts through a trauma-informed and socially responsible lens on my spiritual encyclopedia page.

I intend to create more resources in the near future, so be sure to check back regularly.



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