Moral injury refers to an injury to an individual’s moral conscience resulting from an act of perceived moral transgression which produces profound emotional shame. It is the damage done to one’s conscience or moral compass when that person perpetrates, witnesses, or fails to prevent acts that transgress their own moral and ethical values or codes of conduct. The concept of moral injury emphasizes the psychological, cultural, and spiritual aspects of trauma.
Group therapy has been shown thus far to be the most effective method for treating moral injury, as veterans and service members communicating with others who have experienced similar injuries seem to find themselves better able to vocalize their emotions and pain. The San Diego Naval Medical Center uses this therapy technique in its moral injury/moral repair program, which is the first of its kind. The goal, according to program psychiatrists, is for the participants to accept that wrong was done but to also understand it and learn how to deal with it.