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Professionals' perspectives on relevant approaches to psychological care in moral injury: A qualitative study

APA Citation:

Serfioti, D., Murphy, D., Greenberg, N., & Williamson, V. (2023). Professionals’ perspectives on relevant approaches to psychological care in moral injury: A qualitative study. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 79(10), 2404-2421. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.23556

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study explored the current state of treating patients with moral injury from the perspectives of 15 professionals from the United States (n = 9) and the United Kingdom (n = 6). Participants (e.g., psychiatrists, chaplains) who provided psychological care for Veterans and/or civilians with moral injury were interviewed about their experiences in treating moral injury, including the perceived barriers to care and the approaches they used. Findings highlighted the need for personalized treatment plans and flexible therapeutic approaches that consider patients’ cultural and spiritual worldviews.


Mental health

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:

Military non-medical service providers


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Qualitative Study


Serfioti, Danai, Murphy, Dominic, Greenberg, Neil, Williamson, Victoria


Objectives: Despite the increasing consensus that moral injury (MI) is a unique type of psychological stressor, there is an ongoing debate about best practices for psychological care. This qualitative study explored the perceptions of UK and US professionals in the field of MI investigating advances and challenges in treatment or support delivery and issues relating to treatment/support feasibility and acceptability. Methods: 15 professionals were recruited. Semi-structured, telephone/online interviews were carried out, and transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: Two interconnected themes emerged: perceived barriers to appropriate care for MI cases and recommendations for providing effective care to MI patients. Professionals highlighted the challenges that occur due to the lack of empirical experience with MI, the negligence of patients' unique individual needs and the inflexibility in existing manualised treatments. Conclusions: These findings illustrate the need to evaluate the effectiveness of current approaches and explore alternative pathways, which will effectively support MI patients in the long-term. Key recommendations include the use of therapeutic techniques which lead to a personalised and flexible support plan to meet patients' needs, increase self-compassion and encourage patients to reconnect with their social networks. Interdisciplinary collaborations (e.g., religious/spiritual figures), could be a valuable addition following patients' agreement.

Publication Type:

REACH Publication


mental health, moral injury, qualitative methods, psychological treatments

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  October 2023

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