There is much said about Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and the way that our traumas can significantly harm us. In a season with collective experienced trauma, could we also pay attention to how some of our trauma experiences can grow us? Traumas can, like a forge, temper us, make us stronger and more resilient in the face of future stressors.¹ Post-traumatic growth (PTG) equips us with strength, increased awareness, and better coping skills than before the trauma. PTG is defined as positive psychological change experienced as a result of adversity and other challenges in order to rise to a higher level of functioning.²
What’s the difference between PTG and resilience? Are they indistinguishable? Resilience is when someone is able to bounce back after a trauma; the resilient person is able to more easily rebound after a trauma because the trauma didn’t affect them to point of questioning their core beliefs. PTG is when someone finds it is difficult to bounce back, but is still able to work to achieve growth after a trauma. Several factors can depend on how much or if someone experiences PTG.³ There is a PTG Inventory that is used to measure growth. It looks for positive responses in five areas:
- Appreciation of life
- Relationships with others
- New possibilities in life
- Personal strength
- Spiritual change³
“I see Post-traumatic Growth every single day at Santé. It is something that I am honored to witness and point out to my clients,” says Ashley Whitted, M.S., LCDC, LPC-Intern, Supervised by Steve Tryling, LPC-S, LCDC, CSAT, Primary Therapist at Santé Center for Healing. The clients at Santé work with their Primary Therapists to learn their strength and adaptability to grow in ways they previously may have found impossible due to chronic or a specific trauma.
The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic downturn has negatively affected many people’s mental health and is creating trauma experiences for a variety of individuals. A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that nearly half (45%) of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the virus.⁴ In the coming weeks and months, as people seek professional clinical help with their traumas and struggles, we look for the opportunity to help them see, experience and achieve PTG.
Article by Nicole Miller, Special Programs Coordinator & Alumni Team Member
Ashley Whitted, M.S., LCDC, LPC-Intern, Supervised by Steve Tryling, LPC-S, LCDC, CSAT, Primary Therapist at Santé Center for Healing
Psychology Today. Adena Bank Lees, LCSW. (2019, April 18). “Post-traumatic Growth: There can be positive change after adversity.” Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/surviving-thriving/201904/posttraumatic-growth on 2020, May 11.
APA. Lorna Collier (2016, November, Vol 47, No. 10, Page 48) “Growth After Trauma: Why some people more resilient than others – and can it be taught?” Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2016/11/growth-trauma on 2020, May 11.
1. KFF. Nirmita Panchal, Rabah Kamal, Kendal Orgera, Cynthia Cox, Rachel Garfield, Liz Hamel, Cailey Muñana, and Priya Chidambaram. The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use – Issue Brief – 9440. Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/ on 2020, May 1
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