Post-Traumatic Growth Explained

Post-Traumatic Growth Explained

Post-Traumatic Growth Explained

While post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) gets a lot of attention in the mental health field, the phenomenon of post-traumatic growth (PTG) is just as important. This article explores post-traumatic growth and how to increase resilience in recovery.

Post-Traumatic Growth

Post-traumatic growth (PTG) is a term that was first coined in the mid-1990s by psychologists to describe the positive changes that can occur in people who have been through trauma or adversity. PTG is not simply the absence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)  but an actual growth or extension of oneself. 

PTG can occur in many areas of life, including relationships, work, and spiritual beliefs. PTG is often characterized by increased strength, wisdom, and appreciation for life. It can also lead to improved relationships and a greater sense of meaning and purpose in life. Recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) is often accompanied by post-traumatic growth, as individuals must overcome significant challenges to achieve sobriety. Research on PTG has shown that it is a relatively common experience following trauma and is associated with increased psychological well-being and life satisfaction.

How to Measure PTG

PTG has been operationalized in several ways. Still, most definitions include some measure of positive change that occurs due to the struggle with a significant life event. There are various ways to measure PTG, but one approach is to consider the five factors suggested by Tedeschi and Calhoun (2004). The five factors are:

  • Personal strength: Some people become stronger emotionally and mentally after a traumatic event. They may have a better understanding of themselves and what they are capable of handling. They may also develop new skills or ways of thinking that help them cope with future challenges. This increased strength can help them thrive in their personal lives and careers.
  • Change in relationships: After experiencing a traumatic event, some people find that their relationships with others become stronger. For example, they may feel more connected to their friends and family and be more open and honest with the people in their lives. Other people may find that their relationships change in different ways. For example, they may become more independent and self-reliant, or they may start to distance themselves from the people in their lives. 
  • Expanded worldview: There are many ways to operationalize worldview, but one common approach is measuring “differentiation of self” or DOS. DOS refers to the extent to which an individual experiences themselves as separate from others and the world. Individuals with a high degree of DOS are more likely to see themselves as independent and autonomous. In contrast, those with a low degree of DOS are more likely to see themselves as interconnected with others and the world around them. Individuals who experience a higher degree of DOS are more likely to report greater levels of growth following trauma.
  • Greater appreciation for life: This can manifest itself in many different ways. For example, someone who has been through a traumatic experience may start to appreciate the small things in life that they took for granted before. They may also develop a deeper understanding of their mortality and begin to focus on living each day to the fullest. They may appreciate the people in their lives more and prioritize relationships over material possessions.
  • Spiritual change: It is important to note that not all people who experience a traumatic event will undergo a spiritual change, but for those who do, it can be an essential part of their post-traumatic growth. Spiritual change can manifest in many ways, but some common examples include a new or strengthened belief in God or a higher power, a newfound sense of purpose or meaning in life, and an increased feeling of connectedness to others. For some people, spiritual change is a positive and transformative experience that helps them to make sense of their trauma and find hope and healing. For others, it may be a more mixed or ambivalent experience.

Resiliency Is the Greatest Factor in PTG

Resiliency is the ability to bounce back. It’s adversity. It’s a term often used in psychology and a person’s ability to cope with stress and trauma. While everyone experiences some stress and trauma in their lives, some people are better able to cope with it than others, which is referred to as resiliency.

Resilient people have some qualities that help them to cope with difficult situations. For example, they can often see the silver lining in hard times and are good at finding humor in life. They’re also generally optimistic and have a robust support system they can rely on. Additionally, resilient people are often flexible and are good at going with the flow when things don’t go as planned.

Resilient people tend to be self-aware. They’re always learning and growing from their experiences. Cultivating the ability to reset after traumatic events allows an individual to do “life on life’s terms.” This ability to adapt and change is the key to successful long-term recovery.

Post-traumatic growth (PTG) is a term used to describe the positive changes that can occur in people who have been through trauma or adversity. Individuals who have been through substance abuse and addiction are no strangers to trauma. In fact, many people in recovery will have experienced multiple traumas throughout their lives. Despite this, there is still hope for post-traumatic growth in recovery from substance abuse disorders. Just as substance abuse and addiction can cause harmful changes in cognition, mood, and behavior, recovery from these disorders can also lead to positive changes in these same areas. These positive changes can include an increased sense of self-efficacy and self-worth, improved relationships with others, and a greater appreciation for life. To learn more about how to foster personal growth in recovery after experiencing trauma,  call Restoration Recovery Center today at (888) 290-0925.

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