Have you ever done something you later regretted? Maybe it was following somebody’s orders as a subordinate. It could’ve been in military service or just as an employee, but after doing it something came to light and you felt a lot of guilt and/or shame about it. If this has happened to you, then you’ve experienced moral injury. The good news is that it is very treatable.
Just How Prevalent is Moral Injury?
Moral injury has been around for a long time, and yet very few people have paid any attention to it until recently. It tends to accompany PTSD, but you definitely don’t have to be diagnosed with PTSD to suffer from it. There are no clear figures on how many people suffer from moral injury, but those we tend to think of as suffering from it are typically military service members. There’s no reason to think that these are the only individuals who suffer from it, though. Anyone who has suffered from the guilt and shame that goes with being associated with acts that violate one’s own personal values can be seen as suffering from this. If you’ve witnessed these kinds of acts or carried them out yourself, you can have moral injury. Seen from that angle, moral injury is a big problem these days.
How Do I Know If I Have It?
As I mentioned above, if you’ve witnessed, heard of, or carried out actions that violate your sense of right and wrong, and are aware of the harmful consequences of them to others, society, or the world, you’ve already met one requirement to have moral injury. The other part if feeling guilt and/or shame related to these actions. There may or may not be trauma associated with having moral injury, although this is often the case.
How Image Transformation Therapy (ImTT) Can Treat Moral Injury
Most people who have this affliction have some negative thought or belief that is associated with it. Sometimes it’s in the form of an image, perhaps of those who’ve been harmed by what was done. The shame and guilt associated with these acts is first processed, unless there’s some other aspects of the issue, like shock or disbelief associated with them. Then the image or negative belief are processed by a breathing and visualization protocol to help relieve the suffering related to moral injury. If other actions need to be taken after that, then they can be taken as well, but mainly lie in the area of ‘getting right’ with those who were injured.
How I Can Help
I’ve been working with people who’ve suffered from trauma and related for over 10 years now as a social worker, and one thing I can safely say is that feelings of guilt and shame associated with this are definitely treatable. Moral injury is no more difficult to treat, especially because it doesn’t always have a traumatic component to it. If you think you suffer from moral injury and would like to talk, I offer a free 15-minute free phone consult that can give you a better idea if this is something I can help you with. I can be reached at 512-374-0100, email@example.com, or you can fill out the form below to reach me. Any suffering you experience because of this problem is something that many others deal with, but if you get the help you need it doesn’t have to continue. The positive action you take today can lead to a much better string of tomorrows, both for you and for those you love.
About the author: Scott Kampschaefer, LCSW is a private practice therapist in Austin, Texas. He has an extensive background in working with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder at a clinic for older adults with these disorders in Austin. He now works with adults and adolescents 14 and up in private practice. His new e-book is entitled Life’s Lessons from the Young and the Old and is available for purchase on Amazon.
Click here to learn more about how Scott can help you with moral injury and trauma.