Any form of traumatic event can significantly shatter someone’s fundamental assumptions about both themselves and the world around them. The negative impacts on the trauma survivors can hinder their day to day living, quality of life, and overall well being. Without proper professional therapy for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this adversity can last for years. However, with the right support system, strategies, and desire to change, PTSD can, over time, turn into what is called post traumatic growth.
What is Post Traumatic Growth?
It is no secret that the focus on strength instead of weaknesses is the underlying, basic tenant of recovery. But for those who experienced trauma, that tactic can be hard to utilise since most survivors tend to see themselves as inherently weak. Though it may be challenging, and quite diverse based on the type of trauma someone went through, there can come a time when they are able to shift their views and perspectives, moving away from what is wrong with them to what has happened to them instead.
This is in addition to the fact that some people who have gone through trauma may not just survive the experience, but also enter into what is known as Post Traumatic Growth. Post traumatic growth is defined as someone who’s development surpasses what was present before their initial struggle/crisis occurred. In summary, they come out brighter, better, and stronger than before the trauma took place, as if the experience helped them grow to new levels. They may have an entire change of viewpoint, more self-awareness, and may elevate the importance of relationships that they once took for granted.
Is Post Traumatic Growth a Direct Result from The Trauma?
Though many people describe their post traumatic growth as a profound change, altering their entire view and philosophy on life, it is not a direct result of the trauma. It is, however, related to how the person struggled through their trauma that set the foundation for subsequent growth. For example, those who chose to take their challenges to a trusted, nurturing family member and/or brought it to a professional for active support are much more likely to recover faster and cultivate post-traumatic growth.
Signs of Post Traumatic Growth
There are some pretty transparent signs that someone, maybe even you, have fostered post traumatic growth over the course of your treatment from PTSD. Through counselling and psychological therapies, you can be helped to get to this point of growth as well as highlighting where the growth has taken place. In general look for positive growth in these five areas:
- You have a newly founded appreciation for life. You are filled with new enlightening aspirations and have a will to live stronger than before.
- The relationships you have with others are much healthier, balanced, and are overall happier. You find it easier to make and maintain friendships and enjoy the connections.
- You are hyper-aware of all the opportunities you have around you that you can pursue if you wanted to. You see possibilities and new doors you can check out that you never previously observed.
- You have demonstrated much more resilience and personal strength over the course of your treatment. You feel stronger both mentally and physically, are very in tune with who you are as a person, and do not allow outside influences to hinder your personal happiness or growth.
- Frequently, trauma survivors have a very large shift in their spirituality. For example, going from believing that life was meaningless to now believing that there is a higher power or some grander purpose to life as a whole is a telltale sign.
Whilst some people will face some problematic losses or suffering in life, each person will have a variety of distressing psychological reactions to it. But remember, that just because someone experiences growth does not mean that they will not suffer anymore. They can still have PTSD and feel distressed from time to time.
In addition to this, whilst some people may experience growth as a result of their trauma it does not justify or outweigh the suffering and painful experiences they have though. If there was a choice, I cannot imagine anyone choosing to have PTSD for this result.
Post Traumatic Growth is an enriching, vibrant outcome to something that was so dark and debilitating. It is an experience that allows trauma survivors to view life in a different way, perhaps making them more inspired and appreciative of the people and things around them than before. Though not every person who experiences trauma will obtain this favourable outcome, it is still crucial that they work on themselves to minimise the symptoms and the impacts of the trauma to live a well-balanced, happy life regardless. Always remember, growth does not mean that there is an absence of distress, and everyone recovers and copes at their own pace.
Quest Psychology Services are specialists in Trauma Therapy within Salford, Manchester. To discuss getting help for you or a loved one call us on 07932737335