The role of pastoral counselling in healing spiritual woundedness of official first responders
Van Straten, Annelene
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The spiritual woundedness of official first responders is a problem that is not often recognised or acknowledged by mental health practitioners. Holistic healing in mental health focuses mostly on the biopsychosocial wounds suffered by traumatised persons. Spirituality, with no agreed upon definition, has been condensed to its core in this study, consisting of elements featured in most spiritual definitions. The major elements were that of meaning-making, connectedness, and hope. The study was grounded in a narrative approach to therapy and positioned within a postfoundational notion of practical theology. The Art of War, written by Sun Tzu, was used as a metaphor throughout the study to explain the war-like work environment in which the official first responders find themselves. The study aimed at examining the nature of the spiritual woundedness of the official first responders and to explore the possibility of a narrative pastoral approach to therapy in the healing of their spiritual woundedness. By employing purposive sampling, co-researchers were selected to narrate their experiences. The main findings were that spirituality forms part of the official first responders’ religious schemas, and therefore it would be vital to incorporate spirituality in the therapeutic process. Spirituality has been found to be a salient predictor of mental health. In addition, the study found that OFRs struggle with concepts that influence their spiritual healing such as violent acts towards others, masculinity in the workplace, and the burden of a hero-mentality, distrust towards therapeutic interventions, and a lack of support for their families.
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