Posttraumatic Growth

Posttraumatic Growth Areas    Source: Calhoun and Tedeschi (2004)

Posttraumatic growth (PTG) is about positive, life-changing psychological shifts in thinking resulting from struggling with highly challenging and stressful life circumstances. This concept is thousands of years old, as evidenced by the early writings of the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and Christians, as well as a variety of other faiths. It is often characterized by the thought that suffering has potentially transformative powers.

Although it is a similar concept, resilience is about rebounding to a previous level of functioning before a traumatic event. Posttraumatic growth, on the other hand, goes beyond that in the sense that one finds actual benefits from the challenges. Of course, a single traumatic event may result in benefits in some areas and detriments in others.

Posttraumatic Growth Inventory

The Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI) can help to identify areas of improvement that have resulted from highly challenging or traumatic events in your life. Thinking about and discussing these areas of growth can substantiate your feelings of strength and ability to cope with life's demands.

Tedeschi and Calhoun published this inventory in 1996 using a 21-item scale built on the five-factor model of Tedeschi. It is one of the most valid and reliable resources for evaluating personal growth that follows a stressful encounter. The statements included in the inventory are related to the following five factors:

  • Personal Strength
  • New Possibilities
  • Improved Relationships
  • Spiritual Growth
  • Appreciation for Life

Each of the 21 items falls under one of the five factors and is scored accordingly. A summation of the scores indicates which area of self-development is predominant in us and which area might be behind.

Take the survey below by clicking on one of the buttons for each statement where

  • 0 implies I experienced no change as a result of my crisis
  • 1 implies I experienced this change to a very small degree as a result of my crisis
  • 2 implies I experienced this change to a small degree as a result of my crisis
  • 3 implies I experienced this change to a moderate degree as a result of my crisis
  • 4 implies I experienced this change to a great degree as a result of my crisis
  • 5 implies I experienced this change to a very great degree as a result of my crisis

#

Statement

0

1

2

3

4

5

1

I changed my priorities about what is important in life

2

I have a greater appreciation for the value of my own life

3

I developed new interests

4

I have a greater feeling of self-reliance

5

I have a better understanding of spiritual matters

6

I more clearly see that I can count on people in times of trouble

7

I established a new path for my life

8

I have a greater sense of closeness with others

9

I am more willing to express my emotions

10

I know better that I can handle difficulties

11

I am able to do better things with my life

12

I am better able to accept the way things work out

13

I can better appreciate each day

14

I have new opportunities that were not available before

15

I have more compassion for others

16

I put more effort into my relationships

17

I am more likely to try to change things that need changing

18

I have a stronger religious faith

19

I discovered that I'm stronger than I thought I was

20

I learned a great deal about how wonderful people are

21

I better accept needing others



Category

Description

Score
(0-100)

Personal Strength

Increased resilience, self-reliance, confidence, humility, deepened meaningful narrative, more authentic

 

New Possibilities

New interests, new perspectives, adaptability, openness to new ways of living and working

 

Improved Relationships

Increased sense of belonging, increased emotional vulnerability, loving, empathetic, supportive, stronger bonds

 

Spiritual Growth

Deeper developed and meaningful beliefs and philosophies of life, deeper level of awareness, deeper faith, clearer purpose

 

Appreciation for Life

Increased gratitude, altruism, clear sense of priorities, appreciation for what's good

 


Reflection Questions

To further substantiate your feeling of growth, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What areas have I experienced growth? What impact is that having on me?
  • What areas do I score moderate or low? What is contributing to my experience?
  • What do I want to celebrate?
  • What is one area I would like to make some adjustments so I can improve myself?

Sources

Calhoun, L. G. & Tedeschi, R. G. (2004). The foundations of posttraumatic growth: New considerations. Psychological Inquiry. 15, 93-102.
PositivePsychology.com - Posttraumatic Growth (2021)
Tedeschi, R. G. & Calhoun, L G. (1996). The posttraumatic growth inventory: Measuring the positive legacy of trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress. 9, 455-471.
Tedeschi, R. G. (2020). Growth after trauma: Five steps for coming out of a crisis stronger. Harvard Business Review. July-August