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Post-traumatic Growth Characteristics
“Post-traumatic growth (PTG) is when someone who has been affected by PTSD finds a way to extract new meaning from their experiences to live their lives differently than before the trauma,” explains Dr. Marianne Trent, owner of Good Thinking Psychological Services.
According to a reliable source, approximately half of trauma survivors exhibit post-traumatic growth following a terrible occurrence.
“Personal strength, appreciation for life, new possibilities in life, spiritual change, and relationships with others are examples of avenues for growth,” Trent explains. “Examples of PTG can range from authoring books to discovering God and creating charities, among other things.”
The Pandemic and PTG
While post-traumatic growth is not a new concept, you may hear more about it as we near the end of the pandemic.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Psychiatry, 88 percent of the survey’s 385 respondents reported beneficial outcomes from difficult pandemic situations like homeschooling, loss of income, and health worries. Respondents specifically mentioned improved family relationships and a greater appreciation for life. Others described spiritual growth as a result of pandemic trauma, as well as improved mental health.
Different reactions to trauma
The phenomenon of post-traumatic growth asks the obvious question: Why do some people grow from adversity while others are crushed by it?
According to Trent and Chambers, the following elements play a significant role:
A robust support system extraversion and openness personality qualities the ability to absorb the unpleasant experience
forming new belief systems in the aftermath of a tragic incident
“There are so many elements that influence finding the good in traumatic circumstances,” adds Chambers.
The strength of your support system is a crucial consideration. According to studies, those who have a strong network of supportive family and friends as well as the resources to seek mental health care are more likely to recover.
Personality Psychology is also important.
“Openness to experience and extraversion are two psychological qualities that imply a higher possibility of having post-traumatic growth,” Chambers explains.
“This is probably because openness allows for the reassessment of belief systems, and extroverts are more likely to initiate a response and actively seek social connection.” Possessing good personality traits such as optimism and future focus can also help us notice and capitalize on opportunities.”
Including the experience
Trent defines PTG as the ability of traumatized individuals to integrate their experiences into their lives.
“This results in the creation of new belief systems,” she explains.
Individuals may remain traumatized if this is not done.
“In my trauma therapy expert work, it appears that those who are less able to absorb their experiences into their lives are more prone to get stuck,” Trent adds.
PTG or tenacity?
Trent points out that post-traumatic stress must be experienced before post-traumatic growth can occur.
“To be classified as PTG, the person would have had to have first suffered PTSD symptoms,” she explains. “Without these symptoms, there would be no growth.”
Is it possible to grow from trauma?
Can difficult circumstances be used to build a greater appreciation for life? Trent and Chambers both say yes.
They advise getting professional mental health assistance, such as:
- Desensitization and reprocessing of eye movements (EMDR)
- Compassionate care therapy (CFT)
- Cognitive behavioral therapy for trauma (TF-CBT)
“Having access to good, evidence-based trauma treatments… can be life-changing,” Trent adds. “The effects of post-treatment on people can be like night and day in terms of increased functioning and decreased trauma symptoms.”
She also confirms that these treatments work for a variety of traumas, including:
- A single traumatic event multiple/complex Trauma-related PTSD, sorrow, anxiety, and sadness
- Chambers adds a crucial caveat.
How to Recover from Trauma
There are actions you can do to integrate if you’ve encountered trauma. You can create a post-traumatic growth response to your event over time.
These steps are as follows:
- Reflecting on your experiences and feelings,
- Cultivating a sense of community,
- And seeking mental health assistance.
Chambers recommends writing down your emotions as a first step in processing them..” Reflecting on what we’ve been through and how we’ve managed it, especially writing it down,” he says, “helps us become more aware of how we handled our world-changing overnight.”
We can cultivate thankfulness as we contemplate.”We can think about things we value and are grateful for, as well as the significance in our lives,” Chambers says. “When things are stripped away from us and we become resourceful, we may begin to see how rich our lives are.”
Chambers thinks that cultivating a feeling of community and seeking support from individuals you trust can also be beneficial.
“During the pandemic, communities came together to support one another, building links and assisting the vulnerable,” he says. “Many people report that this purposeful connection has made them more appreciative of others and has made them feel like they are part of something bigger.”