Soul Injury®
The term Soul Injury represents also a registred therapeutic concept that is recommended by therapeutic PTSD, chronic crises and stress interventions. In the application, the afflicted learn how to master losses, failures, disappointments and how forgive oneself as well as others. The concept was foundet in the USA with Deborah Grassman and her VA-Hospice Team in the USA.

SOUL INJURY® – As a Resource in the Work of Spiritual Care in Palliative Care

Negative events that occurred to us recently or a long time ago can affect our behavior in our private as well as our work lives. Often times, they can unconsciously limit us in our vitality and we encounter the same or similar problems over again. The arising feelings are acknowledged as uncomfortable and thus pushed aside. “Why should I burden myself with this again?”, is what we may ask ourselves. This, in spite of those exact feelings being signals that aim to invoke our inner vitality. They want attention in order for them to finally be able to live in peace with and within us. The signals that we, more often than not, experience as negative, are the ones that could return enormous strength and vitality to us. Today we know that an onerous event can evoke a Soul Injury which is found in unresolved loss and in unforgotten or rather not-dealt with feelings of guilt or shame. An affected individual is restricted in his/her vitality and many times may suffer unrecognized. Kids may be affected as well. Once the Soul Injury is recognized and worked with, we can feel strengthen and peacefully live in peace. That event is to be described with new inner as well as outer vitality. Soul Injury is recommended by therapeutic PTSD, chronic crises and stress interventions. In the application, the afflicted learn how to master losses, failures, disappointments and how forgive oneself as well as others.
In Europe too, there are people who have a difficult past and may still suffer from it. Let us consider: Verdingkinder, victims of mental and physical violence, war or terror victims, soldiers, first responder, refugees, victims of bullying, people with severe chronic diseases, people who have been hit by an environmental catastrophe, etc. The professional inner-spiritual accompaniment, that the concept of SOUL INJURY® offers, helps us experts to optimize our communicative competence in crisis interventions. In the praxis of Spiritual Care, the knowledge of Soul Injury is an essential resource for professionals that work in counseling or any support of vulnerable people.

What does SOUL INJURY® and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have in common?

In 2001, Deborah Grassman first identified the phenomena that veterans have a different experience of death than civilians. Her descriptions of the phenomena were embraced by both the PTSD, VA, and Hospice communities. The closest the professional literature comes to indirectly address Soul Injury is the American Psychological Association (APA). They have developed a Posttraumatic Growth Inventory scale. The 21 likert-scaled self-evaluation statements are aligned around five categories: relating to others, new possibilities, personal strength, spiritual change, and appreciation of life. These are SPIRITUAL and SOUL issues that the DSM-based criteria on PTSD does not even identify. In other words, the APA is measuring outcomes of non-existent criteria for PTSD.

Education programs for healthcare providers don’t consistently include; how to grieve with traumatized patients, help them to forgive themselves and others, encourage them to accept help or learn how to maintain self-compassion. SOUL INJURY® provides a resource to incorporate these spiritual and soul criteria’s and to gain special understanding for the care of traumatized patients. The concept helps also to improve communication skills in crises interventions by using practical and simple tools. An ability, that is especially relevant when working with vulnerable patients. 

Where does the therapeutic concept SOUL INJURY® come from?

Fife VA nurses uncovered two barriers that separated veterans from their soul – from their sense of being. Those two barriers were: unmourned loss and unforgiven guilt/shame. Learning how to grieve losses and learning how to forgive others and themselves for what they thought they should or should not have done became a liberating force that allowed the veterans in hospice to die healed. The five left the VA to start Opus Peace, a non-profit organization with the mission: taking the Soul Injury message to people who are not veterans and who are not dying - and out to the world. Sandra Ulrich has been trained in the USA from Deborah Grassman personally to bring this concept to Europe. Since 2019 we are offering Soul Injury seminars in spring and autumn.

What do experts say about SOUL INJURY® ?
"Our hospice clinicians have found the “heart anchoring technique” to be effective in helping professional and family caregivers “be” with their patient. They have experienced that this technique is the “something” that CAN be done when options are few during the final days and moments"
Mitzi Butler LCSW, Director of Social Services for 18 branches of Comfort Care Hospice, USA

"I am a hospice nurse and Director of Clinical Excellence in a hospice agency. I use the work of Soul Injury for both my staff and my patients. This concept and information has been beneficial in helping my dying patients to die healed by working through their Soul Injury. It has also helped my staff who may have a Soul Injury or who want to enhance their work with their patients. I have also incorporated an education on Soul Injury into my orientation for all new staff so they are exposed to it and begin understanding Soul Injury as soon as they become employed in hospice. I personally think Soul Injury knowledge has improved our patient outcomes and staff satisfaction"
Angela Snyder, Division Director, Bayada Healthcare System, USA

"While I'm taking care of patients and families in Hospice and Palliative Care, I often see people numbing out, avoiding, denying, and running from challenging situations. During that time, I can often help families sit with the pain, sadness, and sorrow that is often encountered at EOL (end of life) so they may FEEL their emotions. Because we know that we don't heal what we can't feel. AND if we numb out and deny those painful parts of self, we can develop a Soul Injury"
Stephanie Turner RN, Kansas City Hospice, USA

"I have witnessed the power of Soul Injury in our community. Whether by reading The Hero Within book, or watching the 94 minute Soul Injury DVD, individuals are able to grasp insight and define paths of healing regarding conflict in their lives. It has been a thrill to witness as I have often observed clients in support groups for years (while spending lots of money on therapy) as they search for insight and wisdom. The therapeutic concept of Soul Injury® gives tools for healing that is accessible and very powerful for inner and world peace"
Jessica McCune, Director Bereavement Services, Hospice of Marion County, USA

"I have been a Primary Care Nurse Practitioner in the Veterans Health Care System for over 27 years, as well as a Veteran myself; having the words “Soul Injury “to describe emotional pain is healing in and of itself. I have found that healing emotional wounds can be as life altering as healing physical ones. With the therapeutic concept of Soul Injury® I have received educational information as well as self help tools that have been extremely beneficial both personally and in my clinical practice"
Kathi Burkhart MSN, APN-C, FAANP, Lyons New Jersey VA Healthcare System, USA

"As a Hospice Chaplain, Soul Injury is the keystone of my ministry. My Soul Injury practice enables my patients to liberate themselves from unmourned grief and unforgiven guilt and shame at the end of life. It is truly a blessing to participate in this beautifully transformative experience"
John Drinkard, Chaplain at Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice, Vietnam Veteran, USA

"I am a Board Certified hospital chaplain. I have seen patients for almost eleven years. My recent studies and experience with Soul Injury have provided a very helpful tool for effective ministry. I work mostly with cardiac patients and have seen how the issues of helplessness and irrational guilt that come up so often can be effectively be addressed. The progress and relief for some of these patients has been dramatic. I am finding new ways almost daily in which to use these tools"
Rev. Gordon Ruddick, MDiv, BCC, Chaplain, PeaceHealth, Springfield, USA

"Whether you are a nurse, counselor, chaplain or caregiver- our lives touch each other personally and professionally. Soul Injury® education offers tools to reach out with understanding and compassion on a journey toward personal healing and peace. It is beautiful to witness this training impact and transform the lives of people as they move toward restoring inner wholeness"
Lisa Mueller, RN, Tomah , Wisconsin, USA