An age-old saying says that what doesn’t kill you ends up making you stronger. The concept of post-traumatic growth is based on just that. While dealing with trauma first-hand, it might be difficult for any person to find anything good that could come out of such experiences. However, the continuous efforts of scientists and researchers toward positive changes sparked by negative life events led to the discovery of the phenomena of post-traumatic growth.
The topic sparked interest for the first time in the 1980s and 1990s when survivors of traumatic experiences like rape, cardiac arrest, combat veterans, shipping disasters, etc., started showing signs of positive changes. With intensive research and studies in the field, post-traumatic growth has become one of positive psychology’s flagship topics.
On that note, let us dive deeper into what post-traumatic growth is and how one can harness it.
What Is Post-Traumatic Growth?
Richard Tedeschi, Ph.D., and Lawrence Calhoun, Ph.D., first coined the term post-traumatic growth in 1995. The concept was introduced to focus on the positive traits developed by a person in the course of managing trauma. Their studies focused on parents who lost their children and revealed insightful details on the aspect of growth after trauma.
Tedeschi and Calhoun found that although the pain of losing a child was never really minimized, there were several personal gains for the parents throughout their journey of managing the loss. The study found that some parents chose to seek something meaningful from their loss. They engaged in acts of kindness, activism, and charity – something they wouldn’t have attempted had they not experienced the trauma.
As per multiple studies, people have reported three types of increased psychological functioning after dealing with trauma.
1. Enhanced Relationships: People reported having stronger and enhanced relationships with their loved ones after traumatic experiences. They also described having an increased sense of compassion and kindness toward others.
2. Changed Perspectives About Self: People described developing wisdom, gratitude, strength, and a greater understanding of their vulnerable side as a positive outcome after dealing with trauma.
3. Changed Life Philosophy: A section of people reported having an altered perspective of life where they had a greater appreciation of life and a less materialistic outlook.
How To Develop These Purposeful Outcomes From Trauma?
1. Emotional And Physical Self-Care
Self-care activities are habits that make you feel better and help you manage your negative experiences more healthily. You can take the help of a therapist in developing a perfect self-care plan for yourself.
2. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to enhance the positive trajectory of thoughts and eventually allow your positive thoughts to translate into behaviors and actions.
Read more: Psychotherapy For PTSD – Meaning and Types
3. Community Support
Research by Samuel Dickinson shows that socializing in the presence of your loved ones and people with similar life experiences can help uptick the process of post-traumatic growth.
Going through traumatic experiences are life-altering instances. While primarily associated with adverse outcomes, post-traumatic growth is one of the lesser-known positives of trauma. While the journey might be long and complicated, always know that you will reach it eventually.
Most importantly, you don’t have to go through this difficult process alone. Proper professional help can accelerate post-traumatic growth multi-folds. Getting professional help has become easier and more accessible with the advent of online therapy platforms. To know more about them, click here.
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