It is also important to have the awareness that people who have experienced trauma can go on to not only “survive” the trauma but also experience what has been identified in the literature as “Post Traumatic Growth”. Understanding that this is possible is an important element that contributes to fostering hope.
The research suggests that between 30-70% of individuals who experienced trauma also report positive change and growth coming out of the traumatic experience. Post traumatic growth is defined as the “experience of individuals whose development, at least in some areas has surpassed what was present before the struggle with crises occurred. Individuals have described profound changes in their view of “relationships, how they view themselves and their philosophy of life”.
What is essential to keep in mind is that post traumatic growth is not a direct result of trauma but rather related to how the individual struggles as a result of the trauma. There are a number of things that people who have experienced trauma and subsequent growth identify that was significant to their struggle. These include: having relationships where they felt “nurtured, liberated or validated” in addition to experiencing “genuine acceptance from others”.
Research reported the following characteristics of post traumatic growth:
- Increased perception of competence and self-reliance
- Enhanced acceptance of one’s vulnerability and negative emotional experiences
- Improved relationships with significant others
- Increased compassion and empathy for others
- Greater efforts directed at improving relationships
- Increased appreciation of own existence
- Greater appreciation for life
- Positive changes in one’s priorities
- Stronger religious/spiritual beliefs
Post traumatic growth can be considered an outcome as well as a process. It is about maintaining a sense of hope that not only can a person who has experienced trauma survive but they can also experience positive life changes as a result. Keeping in mind it is not the event that defines post traumatic growth but what is able to develop from within the person.
For more information on Post Traumatic Growth please see Resources section.
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