What Is Post-Traumatic Growth?

What Is Post-Traumatic Growth?

We’ve all heard of post-traumatic stress. But what about post-traumatic growth?

Have you ever gone through something incredibly difficult, and noticed that, on the other side, you were a different person, stronger in certain ways, more sure of yourself, more able to ask for support, softer, or more boundaried?

A concept from positive psychology, post-traumatic growth is one of my favorite aspects of being a therapist—I am able to witness and explore the incredible resiliency of people who have experienced trauma: people who, yes, experience pain and confusion, but who also find within their pain a doorway that opens them more to life and to their own innate strengths.

What Is Post-Traumatic Growth?

Trauma can often feel like it’s breaking us apart. It is important to honor the breaking and the pain. It is crucial to find support for post-traumatic stress. Without glossing over the difficulties of trauma, we can also appreciate that with the right conditions, human systems can come back together with a greater sense of cohesion, authenticity, and compassion than we had previously.

Below is a list of 26 indicators of post-traumatic growth.* See if you recognize yourself in any of the statements.

Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory

a. I have gained clarity around my priorities and what is important in life.

b. I appreciate the value of my own life.

c. I have developed new interests.

d. I feel more healthy self-reliance.

e. I am more open to spiritual realities.

f. I know I can count on people in times of trouble.

g. I established a new path for my life.

h. I have a greater sense of closeness with others.

i. I developed a willingness to express my emotions.

j. I know I can handle life’s difficulties; I have built resilience and grit.

k. I yearn to use my life well.

l. I developed a greater capacity for acceptance.

m. I am able to appreciate each day.

n. New opportunities are available, which wouldn’t have been otherwise.

o. I have compassion for others.

p. I put more effort into my relationships.

q. I’m more likely to try to change things that need changing.

r. I have a stronger sense of faith.

s. I discovered that I am stronger than I thought I was.

t. I learned a great deal about how wonderful people are.

u. I accept needing others.

v. I am more able to be with the unknown or ambiguous.

w. My heart feels more open.

x. I have lost some of my old rigidity.

y. I have developed a sense of bravery in looking at and being with the uncomfortable parts of myself, others, and the world.

z. I have a zeal to help others find healing and freedom.

I would love to hear about your experience with post-traumatic growth in the comments below. If you’d like support feeling into your journey with trauma, please reach out to me.

* The first 21 of these qualities are adapted from Tedeschi RG & Calhoun LG, The posttraumatic growth inventory: measuring the positive legacy of trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress (1996; 9: 455-471).

Learn more about our approach to trauma.

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