Spiritual Meaning Making Following Clergy-Perpetrated Sexual Abuse

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Meaning making is a psychotherapeutic healing factor that promotes adaptation following exposure to trauma, as well as a process that is closely related to psychospirituality. Meaning making is defined as a cognitive and affective change in the way an individual perceives a painful experience. Insofar as meaning making contributes to a shift in worldview, and to a renewed sense of purpose, there is both a psychological and a spiritual component to trauma-related searches for meaning (Frankl, 1959). In this paper, the author explores how psychospiritual development of an adult is shaped by exposure to clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse (CPSA) in childhood, how the trauma might be processed through current empirically informed treatment models for adults, and how treatment strategies and techniques vary depending on the stage of treatment at which meaning making might occur. Hypothetical case material illustrates developmental consequences and how these are treated within each phase of sequenced treatment models.

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