Original Research

A HeartMath intervention, focusing on coherence, resilience and faith, following a trauma

David J. Edwards, Yolanda Dreyer, Ben J.M. Steyn
Theologia Viatorum | Vol 48, No 1 | a219 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/tv.v48i1.219 | © 2024 David J. Edwards, Yolanda Dreyer, Ben J.M. Steyn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 August 2023 | Published: 27 February 2024

About the author(s)

David J. Edwards, Department of Practical Theology and Mission Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Tshwane, South Africa; and, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Zululand, KwaDlangezwa, South Africa
Yolanda Dreyer, Department of Practical Theology and Mission Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Tshwane, South Africa
Ben J.M. Steyn, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Tshwane, South Africa

Abstract

Traumatic experiences can have an impact on faith. HeartMath, which focuses on coherence and resilience, is one approach utilised to help overcome traumatic experiences. This study focused on a HeartMath intervention, emphasising psychophysiological coherence, sense of coherence, resilience and faith following a traumatic experience. A quasi-experimental, single, within-sample design was used. The purposeful sample consisted of 10 participants. A 12-week HeartMath intervention was undertaken. Related quantitative and qualitative coherence, resilience and faith measures were used at pre-test, re-test and, after intervention, post-test, with participant diaries completed. Quantitatively, there were significant post-intervention positive improvements in physiological average coherence, achievement, and low, medium and high coherence level scores. Although not significant, there were improvements in the resilience scale and faith scale. However, there was no improvement in the sense of coherence scale total score. Qualitatively, there were positive integrative thematic changes in experiences of the sense of coherence, resilience and faith. Recommended next research steps were a case study on causal, correlational and relationship mechanisms of change, followed by an appreciative inquiry evaluating HeartMath as a pastoral care and counselling intervention.

Contribution: This article contributes to the area of practical theology, specifically pastoral care and counselling, as it quasi-experimentally explores a HeartMath intervention and faith following a traumatic experience.


Keywords

traumatic experience; HeartMath intervention; coherence; resilience; faith

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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