Calling upon a client's own belief system

Part 2: Using Spirituality as a Resource

by Dennis Moorman on October 2, 2012

This is the second in a three-part series on spirituality and SE®. Dennis Moorman’s first entry discussed how trauma may result in dissociation, a loss of the key connections that define and enrich our lives.
Jump to: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Just one month after the earthquake in Haiti, a very thin woman, approximately 50 years old, presented herself to me complaining that she couldn’t eat anything. She said all she could think about since the earthquake was finding food for her eight children. I tried to help her identify some resources, somewhere she had some kind of support in her life, but she repeatedly focused on her traumas and worries.

Not only did this woman lose her home and all of her belongings in the disaster but she also lost her best friend. She told me that her friend had abandoned her, feeling too overwhelmed by this need to support so many hungry children. This client even revealed to me that she was so overwhelmed, the thought of taking her own life had often crossed her mind.

Healing practitioners trainShe had suffered so many losses that she was completely stuck in crisis mode. She was unable to think about anything besides the survival of her children. My attempts to find a source of physical or material support were not going anywhere helpful, so I tried a different approach. Not knowing her religious background, I asked if she had any form of spiritual support or protection in her life. Without hesitation, she told me: “Jesus is a source of support for me, I have great trust in God.” So, I invited her to call upon Jesus for support in her life in the present moment.

She still continued returning time and time again to her emotional pain and trauma, so I asked if she would like to feel some supportive touch on her back. My translator seemed very connected with her through the resonance of the session, so I asked if it would be alright for the translator to give the supportive touch. The client agreed and before long she began praying and singing. Eventually she raised her trembling arms in the air and her whole body began to shake. I encouraged her to gently allow the shaking to continue in order to liberate the traumatic energy held in her body.

After some minutes of trembling, praying, and singing, her body began to settle. After a while, she expressed that she felt like a new person with renewed hope. I was very pleased, since just minutes earlier she couldn’t even pay attention to her body momentarily, much less imagine a single supportive resource in her life.

I reminded her that she could call upon the presence of Jesus at anytime when she was feeling overwhelmed and a lack of support in her life. At the end of the session, she experienced a strong sense of gratitude and thanked us saying: “I think God has sent you to help me.” She felt like she could now start eating again. In the absence of any other physical or material support, the two resources that we were able to use to facilitate her renegotiation of trauma were touch and a spiritual resource of her choice.

Next > Part 3: The Healing Power of Imagination
In the next installment, Dennis will discuss how engaging clients’ hopes and dreams can contribute to their healing.

Reverend MoormanReverend Dennis Moorman, MM, SEP – Dennis is a Maryknoll priest and a Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner, currently working in Brazil with trauma renegotiation and assisting with SE trainings.

Photos by Dennis Moorman

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

myla fonseca October 6, 2012 at 11:42 pm

a beautiful, very beautiful and delicate example
of connecting more deeply with people thru spirituality.

one thing is to read or talk about the fact that most probably
we are spiritual beings sharing an earthly experience as human beings

another quite clear and direct is to experience this with another person,

and, as we know, SE offers us these kinds of experience
in a very clear, sharp and direct way
without labels and judgments

thanks, lovely case


Dennis Moorman October 22, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Dear Myla,
I appreciate your comment on my blog article “Using Spirituality as a Resource.” Thank you for your kind words! I’m so happy that it touched you! The experiences working with Somatic Experiencing in Haiti after the earthquake were so powerful for me and I am grateful to have this space to
share them with other SE practitioners! I learn something new from each person with whom I work and it is a pleasure to share this with others!
All the best in your SE healing work!


Teresa Naseba Marsh November 15, 2012 at 11:00 am

Greetings Dennis,
I was deeply touched and moved by both stories. I am very new to SE, even though I have been working with trauma for more that 15 years. In fact, i have dealt with trauma throughout my life. I am now living in Canada, but I am from Cape Town , SA. I left my country, because of the violence and so on. I am also a gifted Spiritual Healer and Spirituality plays a BIG role in my life and the work that I do. I am currently a 2nd year Ph.D. student and my focus of work is in Aboriginal communities, implementing group treatment for Intergenerational trauma& addiction. As I was working on my proposal and digging into the literature i realized that I should look into SE. So I am only at the investigation stage as to how this SE can help me and the people that i work with. I am just reading info about SE. I came across your articles……….touched me at a CORE………I think that I am on the right tract?
Any wisdom??
Peace & Light


Dennis Moorman November 28, 2012 at 7:00 am

Dear Teresa,
I appreciate your kind words and am so happy to know that this series of article on Trauma, Spirituality and Healing touched you at a core! I checked out your website and hope to read your book! I was so touched by your story and the experiences that you shared! I will contact you directly as well!
Abundant Blessings!


Evelyn Ramos February 5, 2013 at 8:29 pm

I experience tremenous trauma all my life, I find spirituality to help, and find that doctors want to tell that you are sick. Thank for this article. I happen to give to the fathere Maryknolls.


Dennis Moorman March 13, 2013 at 7:02 am

Dear Evelyn,
I appreciate your kind words and support! May your healing continue to unfold as you trust in your spiritual resources for support!

Many Blessings,


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