What is Post-traumatic Growth (PTG)?
What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger
Have you ever come through a traumatic experience and when you looked back found that there was a silver lining? A positive in the negative experience? This is Post-traumatic Growth or how we grow through adversity.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is known for flashbacks, nightmares and other symptoms that can haunt you for years. It is often thought of as being caused by events outside of normal human experience – wars, terrorism or natural disasters like earthquakes. However it is far more common than that. Post-traumatic stress can occur as a result of any adversity that overwhelms your ability to cope. It could be a divorce, accident, diagnosis or business failure.
Post-traumatic Growth (PTG) refers to positive psychological changes that can happen through the process of struggling with adversity. These changes happen in 3 areas
- change in your sense of yourself
- change in your relationships
- change in your philosophy on life.
But it’s not only about change. People who’ve experienced PTG talk about having gained from the experience. “I no longer see what life took from me – I see what it gave me” is how one survivor puts it. There are 5 dimensions to the benefits that come with PTG as you grow through adversity.
- Personal strength
- Greater appreciation of life
- Closer relationships
- New possibilities
- Spiritual development
What helps people towards PTG is finding a way of accommodating the tragedy into their mental landscape. Life won’t ever
be the same but they eventually pick up the pieces and life moves forward in a new form. The metaphor of a broken vase is helpful to understanding this concept. When you experience a life-shattering event there are two ways you can go. Either glue the fragments back together – life will look the same but it will be more fragile than it was before. Or you can pick up the pieces and make a beautiful mosaic from them. Life is different but in many ways stronger. Building resilience can help you on the path to PTG and this is the subject of What is Post-traumatic Growth, a new book I’ve written which follows on from Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression.
What is Post-traumatic Growth is published on 18 May, 2017. The book explores the journey from trauma to post-traumatic growth with chapters that will help you cope, strengthen and grow from adversity and case studies to inspire.
Read about my own experience of PTG.