There is room for
Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG)
By Zur Institute
We live in an age in which we perceive heightened levels of stress from all sectors – political upheaval, random and non-random lethal shootings, climate crises, technological advances that sometimes exceed current capacity for management, and ever-present online security threats and breaches. Additionally, despite efforts to juggle and manage stressors, sometimes further traumatic circumstances fall upon us and our clients. Fortunately, research has begun to show that we do not need to always succumb to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – even if symptoms are developed, there is room for Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG), sometimes years, or even decades, later.
Through longitudinal studies, researchers have learned that while not all who experience trauma eventually achieve PTG, many do. Further, research has identified factors which can promote PTG, factors that do not seem to impact the development of PTG and factors which may inhibit PTG. Despite the highly stressful world we live in, PTG is possible for trauma survivors from diverse clinical populations.
Did you know…
- PTG is different from Resilience. While resilience is a personality attribute related with an individual’s ability to go through or bounce back following adverse events, PTG refers to a form of “stress-related growth” according to theoretical founders Tedeschi and Calhoun. So, even if a person has not been particularly resilient throughout his/her lifetime, it is possible for a survivor of trauma to eventually gain a sense of fulfillment, purpose, meaning and growth as a result of the trauma endured.
- One may say that PTG is growing and healing because of the trauma, not in-spite of it.
- PTG is thought to affect five major areas:
- An enhanced appreciation for life
- A significant shift in how the individual relates to others
- A new openness to possibilities and opportunities
- An altered perception of personal strength
- Spiritual change or transformation
- Some of the factors which may impact the development of PTG include:
- Age: Very young children may not have the capacity to easily or readily achieve PTG.
- Gender: Women appear to develop PTG more consistently than do men.
- Extroversion (vs. introversion): Extroverts seem to be able to more quickly develop PTG than introverts.
- Some of the populations currently being studied for development of PTG following PTSS and PTSD include survivors of:
- Sports-related injuries
- Loss of a loved one
- Sexual assault and abuse
- Train wrecks and mid-air collisions
- Combat trauma
- Natural disasters
- Terrorist attacks