Posttraumatic Growth

9512680-girl-tourist-in-mountain-read-the-map-map-journeyAccording to Tedeschi and Calhoun (2004) posttraumatic growth is:

“the experience of positive change that occurs as the result of the struggle with highly challenging life circumstances” (p. 1).

Examples of posttraumatic growth may be a greater appreciation for the value of life, increased belief in knowing that you can count on people in times of trouble, an enhanced sense of closeness with others, a greater belief in one’s ability to handle difficulties, putting more effort into relationships, and having more meaningful interpersonal relationships (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004). Examples of highly challenging life circumstances where posttraumatic growth may occur include the death of a loved one, job loss, ending a romantic relationship, serious illness, or an unexpected accident.

I have researched posttraumatic growth and a few interesting components of the phenomenon include:

1.) Struggle
2.) Highly challenging life circumstances
3.) Experience of positive change

Interestingly enough, the experience of positive change would not be possible without the struggle or highly challenging life circumstances. I am not trying to diminish the significance of traumatic events. While going through a death of a loved one, job loss, or end of a romantic relationship, it is normal and understandable that we would experience pain, hurt, and deep sadness. Grieving these losses puts us in touch with our humanity and allows time to feel how truly important these people and events are or were to our lives. During this time of feeling our sadness and grieving the loss of what was; or what could have been, we should nurture ourselves and trust ourselves that we are doing the right thing.

The struggle we go through during these incredibly difficult times can have value. They can add meaning and greater understanding to our life. The struggle that occurs during highly challenging life circumstances is also capable of helping us develop qualities, capabilities, and desires that would not be possible to develop in the presence of easy or comfortable conditions.

Posttraumatic Growth is not a new concept. It has it’s roots in spiritual texts. For example, Romans 5: 3-5 states:

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope…And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

Peace,
Dr. Matthew Welsh J.D., Ph.D.
Founder of Spiritual Media Blog

Comments

  1. This template for posttraumatic growth is not universal, and there are many ways it might shift by individual. For example, Tedeschi and Calhoun continue to adjust the indicator of spiritual change given this factor does not always play a part in people’s recovery journeys and might look different based on someone’s cultural background.

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