Conceptualization of Post Traumatic Growth in the Work of Expert Trauma Therapists
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The concept of Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG), focusing on positive outcomes and transformations occurring in the aftermath of trauma, opens a new line of thinking about trauma's effects. This turn to the potential for growth in the wake of trauma has emerged only after decades of research and experience with the negative effects of exposure to trauma. While the concept of PTG has been investigated in recent years, it is still relatively new in clinical practice. The purpose of this study is to shed light on the concept of PTG and how it is viewed and manifested in clinical practice. The study examines the conceptualization of trauma expert therapists of PTG, regarding different kinds of trauma, and related concepts such as resilience, well-being and symptoms reduction. These terms, although depicted in the literature, appear under different definitions and the view of therapists of these concepts and the relationship between them have not been deeply explored. Eight trauma expert therapists active in the Seattle area were recruited and interviewed. The interviews, using sensitization by an interview guide, were coded using grounded theory and the finding summarized in nine themes. Interviewees were not familiar with PTG as a term, but recognized it as an important concept in their work, as a phenomenon that enables survivors thrive in spite of the trauma. Among the main themes emerged in this study: PTG is viewed as more subjective rather than objective, manifested in clients' reported perception changes and not limited to external behaviors; Resilience and PTG were recognized as different concepts, while resilience was addressed as a mental state or ability to recover, PTG was addressed as progressing and thriving. The implications for social work practice and research based on the study's findings include the need for recognition of concepts of PTG by clinicians that work in the trauma field, social workers as well as policy makers.