Part 3: The Healing Power of Imagination

by: FHE Admin

This is the conclusion of Dennis Moorman's three-part series on spirituality and SE®. Previously, Dennis discussed trauma and the loss of our lives' key connections plus how clients' spiritual perspectives can aid in their own healing process.
Jump to: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Imagination is another excellent spiritual resource for healing trauma, especially when working with the materially impoverished. Oftentimes in Haiti, people would talk about the trauma of living in abject poverty, sometimes not even knowing where they might find their next meal. For these people it was very difficult to get beyond the stark reality of their suffering. When I would ask them to imagine the kind of life they would like to have, they usually responded: “What's the use of imagining something that isn't real?”

This is where some gentle challenge was often helpful. I would try to help them discover that as long as we continue to dream, we keep hope alive. And when we can imagine the good that we wish to have for ourselves, this in turn attracts goodness to our life. Imagination is a gift that allows us to transcend our present reality, providing the power to open us up so that we may create new possibilities for ourselves. This resource— available within all of our own minds— approximates divine power in that its possibilities are unlimited.

The use of imagination was most helpful in renegotiating trauma in Haiti. It seems that it came most naturally for children. Some adults have become so overwhelmed, riding out trauma after trauma, that they have nearly forgotten how to dream. When they are able to reconnect with the power of their imagination, however, they are enabled to see different options and new possibilities for their lives. This, in turn, restores hope that things can get better.

The hope that things can get better prepares the way for new possibilities to emerge. For example, one young adult woman presented herself living in a very disagreeable situation with her mother and stepfather: she felt trapped and abused. When she was able to imagine a more agreeable living situation for herself, actually feeling it in her body, she experienced a discharge of energy from her nervous system that allowed her to begin to rise out of her depression. She started to feel her own power of choice. This power would ultimately allow her to make a change in her lifestyle, opening her up to the very real possibility of more freedom, joy, and happiness.

Above All: Openness and Tolerance

Finally, as a Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner, I find it essential to allow each client to identify their own spiritual resources. I strive to be open to diversity in spirituality and religious background (or none). I take care not to impose my own spiritual beliefs and practices, even if unwittingly, on the client. Each person is a singular being with a unique spirituality that merits respect and awe.

The authorSpirituality proved to be a vital resource that led to successful renegotiation of trauma when no other physical resources could be found. The successful renegotiation of trauma helped people to reconnect with their body and become more fully present to self, others, and the surrounding world. What I witnessed in Haiti was a mutually beneficial relationship between SE and a client's spirituality. Spirituality not only served as an important resource for renegotiating trauma, but at the same time, each client's own spiritual perspective was strengthened and deepened by the healing experience.

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

Comments (6)
  1. CR Spicer


    I appreciate this observation of yours “Spirituality proved to be a vital resource that led to successful renegotiation of trauma when no other physical resources could be found”. I just read Shelley Rambo’s book Spirit and Trauma for a course at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry with Phil Browning-Helsel, Ph.D. titled Trauma and Addiction. We enjoy having guest speakers. If you are available I would have you “come” to our class via skype. In case you have interest, and might want more information, please contact me. We move into a section addressing how trauma is a root cause of addiction, which may be a focus you could illustrate from your experience.

    1. Dennis Moorman

      Dear CR,
      I appreciate your comment on my article “The Healing Power of Imagination.” I would be glad to contact you about the possibility of sharing some more of my personal experiences and I will send you an email in that regard. You might also like to consider inviting one of the Somatic Experiencing Faculty Members to talk more about SE to your class!
      I’ll be in touch!

  2. Greetings Again!

    Thank you for another beautiful way of talking about healing from trauma and how imagination can be used to give new hope and strength!! i found reading your work very soothing & for my own trauma work……..reading work like yours always SOOTHED ME IN SOUTH AFRICA!!!
    I am interested in Connecting with CR Spicer as that is the work i am doing for my dissertation………Healing from trauma & addiction in Aboriginal peoples.
    Peace & Light

  3. Dennis Moorman

    Dear Teresa,

    I am grateful for your comment! I just read this quote on imagination which I think is so relevant: “The sorcery and charm of imagination, and the power it gives to the individual to transform his world into a new world of order and delight, makes it one of the most treasured of all human capacities.” – Frank Barron

    Healing Energy!

  4. Anna Katherine

    Dear Dennis,
    Thanks so much for the profound reminder of the power of imagination. As a S.E. practitioner in New Mexico, I sometimes find it challenging not to get too absorbed in clients’ problems. That they always have this capacity to expand beyond suffering, and thus to release body and mind, is the Deeper Story.
    Anna Katherine

  5. Dennis Moorman

    Dear Anna Katherine,

    I appreciate hearing your experience and knowing that you too have found imagination to be a powerful resource in expanding beyond the suffering that constrains!

    Wishing you many blessings as you continue your healing work!


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