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I believe the answer is not as simple as it seems.
As a child and youth counselor, I have worked with numerous children and youth, as well as their families. In my practise I have the pleasure of working with non-religious, very liberal faith-based, very conservative faith-based, and multi-faith children. As a result of my experience, I believe that a child/youth’s God-concept/worldview can either bring comfort or complexity to the healing process from trauma.
Do Professionals Explore the Religious Beliefs of a Child?
I have talked to many counselors who do not consider themselves trained or competent in the area of spirituality/religion, so they simply do not explore with a child the strengths or difficulties that may come from their faith.
Faith as a “Culture”
Faith, beliefs and practises are often referred to as a faith-based individual’s “culture.” You can research about different religions, their beliefs and practises in the same manner as you do different cultures. You need to understand what a faith-based child’s basic beliefs and practises are in order to more fully understand their perspective on traumatic experience.
How Do Faith-Based Children/Youth Process a Traumatic Event Differently?
For these children, their God-concept plays the most important role in their lives.
- They see God as the reason for their very existence.
- “How the child perceives God and how they believe God perceives them” is at the core of their very identity.
- When a child/youth’s God-concept is healthy, he sees God as a comfort in times of trouble.
- If a child/youth’s God-concept is distorted, the perception of “why the traumatic event happened” is often thought to be caused by God.
- Children with distorted beliefs may see what happened to them as a result of not being “good enough” at practises (like pray), or even punishment for sin. In one case, a child told me that his brother died because he was so good that God wanted him to be an angel.
- When distorted beliefs are present, guilt, fear, and worry become very complex. Since the traumatic experience, the child may now be afraid of God and what God may do next!
Note: Without seeking out the child/youth’s perception of God in their traumatic event, you will not likely uncover information that reveals any God-focused fears, guilt, worries etc.
Are There Many Faith-Based Families out There?
I recently looked up the statistics to answer this question. United States and Canada statistics have very similar findings.
- In United States – 75% are Christian
- Canada – 75% are Christian
- In United States – 3.9-5.5% are non-Christian religions
- In Canada – 8% are non-Christian religions
- In United States -15% are no religion
- Canada – 17% are no religion
- Over 85% adults in Gallop pole reported religion is important in their lives
Question to you is… “What do you do with your faith-based clients?
I would love for you to share your thoughts, ideas and strategies for working with faith-based clients.
I have created a supplement to the TLC Trauma Intervention Program. “Faith-Based Trauma Intervention Supplement” can be easily integrated into the TLC Trauma Intervention Program when you are working with traumatized faith-based children. Available in TLC online store.
A new TLC Online Course titled Incorporating Faith into Trauma Intervention is coming soon.
Written By Annette Miner