Friday, February 11, 2011

Posttraumatic Growth

This was a new concept for me and I was interested to see how much work is being done in this area.  The excerpt below is taken from a write up from the Psychology Department, UNC Charlotte.  As the authors state, just because there is growth, does not mean the suffering is lessened but perhaps we can learn to use trauma to stimulate growth rather than treating it as a wholly negative event.

What is posttraumatic growth? It is positive change experienced as a result of the struggle with a major life crisis or a traumatic event. Although we coined the term posttraumatic growth, the idea that human beings can be changed by their encounters with life challenges, sometimes in radically positive ways, is not new. The theme is present in ancient spiritual and religious traditions, literature, and philosophy. What is reasonably new is the systematic study of this phenomenon by psychologists, social workers, counselors, and scholars in other traditions of clinical practice and scientific investigation.
What forms does posttraumatic growth take? Posttraumatic growth tends to occur in five general areas. Sometimes people who must face major life crises develop a sense that new opportunities have emerged from the struggle, opening up possibilities that were not present before. A second area is a change in relationships with others. Some people experience closer relationships with some specific people, and they can also experience an increased sense of connection to others who suffer. A third area of possible change is an increased sense of one’s own strength – “if I lived through that, I can face anything”. A fourth aspect of posttraumatic growth experienced by some people is a greater appreciation for life in general. The fifth area involves the spiritual or religious domain. Some individuals experience a deepening of their spiritual lives, however, this deepening can also involve a significant change in one’s belief system.


  1. Interesting post. Good research is being pursued given incidence of PSTD.

  2. Dang. And I thought I had coined this phrase.

    It's one I used a lot after the debacle of Conrad. I didn't want to focus on Stress. I wanted to see my growth and celebrate it, so I said, early on, I was experiencing post traumatic growth.

    cool! there's actually research to back up my intuition. :)

  3. Louise ... some people are always ahead of the curve!!