Is Post-Traumatic Growth a Thing? Psychs Weigh In on the Potential Positive Effect of Life in Lockdown

Is Post-Traumatic Growth a Thing? Psychs Weigh In on the Potential Positive Effect of Life in Lockdown

via Well and Good by Erin Bunch

Post-traumatic growth is a phenomenon that basically gives credence to the phrase, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” The experience is characterized by traumatic events resulting in positive changes for individuals, and according to new research, folks exiting an acute phase of pandemic trauma are experiencing it.

The research, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, focused on a survey of 385 caregivers of children in the United Kingdom and Portugal who had experienced unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic (e.g., homeschooling their children, losing income, and having loved ones infected with COVID-19). When asked if there were any positive effects of pandemic circumstances, 88 percent of those surveyed said yes, citing improvements in their familial relationships, an increased appreciation for life, spiritual growth, and the discovery of new opportunities. Researchers noted that those who identified such silver linings reported better mental health than those who did not.

This study was obviously quite small, however, its conclusions are not new. According to Carla Marie Manly, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of Joy From Fear, the term “post-traumatic growth” was coined in the 1990s as a formal clinical modality. But “within the realm of psychotherapy itself, the idea of using trauma to foster self-growth has been in use for over a century,” she says, noting that the concept behind it dates back much further. “In short, the traumatized individual is given the support necessary to understand, reframe, and utilize the traumatic experience to improve themselves, their relationships, and their view of the world.”

Post-traumatic growth and the pandemic

The pandemic certainly qualifies as a worthy catalyst for this type of growth, says clinical psychologist Aimee Daramus, PsyD. “Trauma often involves an unwanted change to your sense of identity—like losing a cherished job or no longer being a parent due to the loss of a child—or your sense of reality, and COVID-19 changed most people’s reality in a very short time,” she says.

Of course, not every person who’s living through the pandemic is traumatized by it. “Individuals do not respond to traumatic situations in the same way; whereas one person may be deeply traumatized by a life event, another person in the same situation may experience no distress whatsoever,” says Dr. Manly. “What is traumatic to one individual may be perceived as barely a ripple to another—so much depends on personal history, lifestyle factors, and personality characteristics.”

“An individual’s ability to use trauma to propel self-development depends on myriad factors including personality type, level of support, prior unresolved trauma, and environmental factors.” —Carla Marie Manly, PhD

… keep reading the full & original article HERE