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  • 9781953495792 cvr 2d 1
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When Spirituality and Trauma Collide

A Guidebook for Practitioners of Soul Care

Author Karen Bartlett

SKU: 978-1-953495-79-2

Book - Paperback

Product Info

A science- and Scripture-backed guide for navigating trauma in the sacred space of soul care. Combining best practices from neuroscience, theology, social work, and spiritual direction, When Spirituality and Trauma Collide will equip you with a basic understanding of trauma and how it impacts spiritual formation, so you can help others heal the wounds that keep them from connection with God.

Shipping Info

  • Delivery method: Physical
  • Weight: 0.3125 lbs
  • Length: 5.5"
  • Width: 0.25"
  • Height: 8.5"

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As our collective awareness of trauma expands exponentially, timely and well-honed resources like this are in great need. As a practitioner of the art of spiritual direction I find this book to be a beautiful and necessary companion for my work with those carrying the heavy burden of unprocessed trauma. I will return to this guide often to sharpen my practical skills and raise the levels of awareness needed to better serve my directees. The resources and guidance offered here are timely and applicable for all spiritual directors, not just those working with survivors of trauma. And, as the director of a spiritual direction training program this book will be a requirement for all of our new spiritual directors!

Todd Minturn
Todd Minturn
Director at Hole in the Rock Ministries

If you are tasked with the awesome and humbling responsibility of providing pastoral care for others, then this book is an absolute necessity. I read this book with a mixture of conviction and relief. Conviction because it challenged me to strive for better in the way I understand and care for those dealing with deep trauma and pain. Relief because I recognized an author familiar with the difficult terrain often navigated in pastoral care and counselling and who offers practical, insightful and loving ways in which we might help others. This book will help both trauma victims and pastors not only investigate their pain and trauma, but given time, open up pathways of transformation. This should be on every pastor’s bookshelf.

Rev. Jon Tattersall
Rev. Jon Tattersall
St John’s Anglican Church, Harborne, UK

Karen Bartlett masterfully “threads the needle” in this handbook for spiritual directors on the impact of trauma on spirituality! As an experienced spiritual director, Karen knows what I also know: it is only a matter of time when a spiritual director will encounter a directee who has been deeply wounded by abuse. Though our role is not to counsel, spiritual directors can, as Karen points out, provide a way of being with directees that will assist them in their journey of healing. This handbook provides thoughtful and practical insight for any spiritual director who desires to become a better healer!

Beth A. Booram
Beth A. Booram
co-founder and director of Fall Creek Abbey and author of several books, including Starting Something New: Spiritual Direction for Your God-given Dream and When Faith Becomes Sight.

A gem of a book which I recommend to spiritual directors but also to chaplains, clergy, ministers and all who have the privilege of listening to people sharing something of their stories with them. Trauma informed work is a growing field and I welcome this contribution to the spiritual direction literature. As someone who has spent their working life training those who minister to children, young people and families, this is a must-read book too, particularly the exploration of attachment. If we can offer appropriate interventions earlier, that may help people flourish as God intended. This book reflects Karen's passion and commitment to being a trauma sensitive and ethical spiritual director who wants to see people growing into all that God has for them. This is a short, accessible book from which I learnt new insights which I can implement in my practice, a great resource. 

Rev. Dr. Sally Nash
Rev. Dr. Sally Nash
Senior Research Fellow St. Padarn's Institute Research and Training Lead Centre for Paediatric Spiritual Care, Associate Minister, Hodge Hill Church

In my work as an advocate for those who have experienced childhood trauma, including Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA), stories of unintentional harm that results from seeking spiritual help are all too common—most often due to a lack of understanding of the impact of trauma. In When Spirituality and Trauma Collide, Karen Bartlett weaves neuroscience, attachment theory, and best practices for spiritual direction into an accessible guide that needs to be in the hands of everyone who desires to provide
spiritual guidance and support to those impacted by childhood trauma. I highly recommend this resource! 

Janyne McConnaughey, PhD
Janyne McConnaughey, PhD
author of Trauma in the Pews: The Impact on Faith and Spiritual Practices, Former President of the Board: Attachment & Trauma Network

I have sought to be an effective agent of God's healing for four decades. It has always been challenging, but today human brokenness seems especially stubborn, complex, and nuanced. My experience makes me grateful for the insights of Karen Bartlett's new book, When Spirituality and Trauma Collide. Caregivers of all kinds will be equipped, made wiser, and encouraged by her work.

Bishop Todd Hunter
Bishop Todd Hunter
author of What Jesus Intended: Finding True Faith in the Rubble of Bad Religion


No part of us is unaffected by trauma. Our mind, our body, and our spirit – especially our ability to experience God as loving and good – are wounded when we face pain, abuse, and suffering. Yet, as spiritual leaders, we are often unaware of the ways trauma impacts the spiritual life – and how many of our well-intentioned responses can actually be hurtful for someone who has experienced trauma.

Social worker and spiritual director Karen Bartlett has been there many times before. This led her to seminary to study theology and a master’s program to study neuroscience — all to better understand how trauma impacts our view of God.

When Spirituality and Trauma Collide brings together her learnings and breaks them down into a simple field guide that will equip you to respond to trauma in spiritual formation settings without inflicting harm.


  • How trauma works in the brain and body and how it can impact someone’s view of God
  • Attachment style, safety, and the stress response as it relates to the spiritual life
  • How to spot signs of dysregulation and discomfort during a session
  • Best practices for when to slow down, stop, ask permission, or use different language with someone
  • Permission to not always have all the answers and to instead guide someone into an experience with God

Walking alongside others on their spiritual journey is a sacred calling that requires care for the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. This guide will empower you to quickly understand the basics of trauma, so you can help others heal the wounds that keep them from connection with God.