Primer On Posttraumatic Growth: An Introduction And Guide by Mary Beth Werdel and Robert J. Wicks

075756d0a8e3115.jpg Author Mary Beth Werdel and Robert J. Wicks
Isbn 9781118106785
File size 9.7 MB
Year 2012
Pages 257
Language English
File format PDF
Category personality


ffirs.indd 2 7/4/2012 3:09:14 PM Advanced Reviews for Primer on Posttraumatic Growth: An Introduction and Guide Mary Beth Werdel and Robert Wicks provide a solid introduction to the field of posttraumatic growth. Their primer will be invaluable to students new to the field as well as those who work closely with survivors of trauma. Their Primer is packed with the latest research findings, positive psychology applications, and richly illustrated with clinical cases and examples from philosophy. Engaging and informative this book will help counselors to nurture the seeds of growth in their clients by becoming more mindful of the process of post-trauma change. A book full of wisdom and compassion. Stephen Joseph, Ph.D. Professor, Center for Trauma, Resiliency and Growth University of Nottingham, UK Author, What Doesn’t Kill Us: The New Psychology of Posttraumatic Growth How eye-opening to read this fascinating analysis of posttraumatic growth and to realize that, as a nurse/nurse educator, I have witnessed patients, families, students and colleagues struggling to find meaning in a loss, trauma, or significant change without fully considering the value of the trauma as setting the stage for growth. The authors share meaningful anecdotes throughout each chapter as well as clinical cornerstones at the end of each chapter which summarize the discussion and provide the clinician with thoughtful recommendations to incorporate into practice . . . This book is a gift not only to clinicians but to those dealing with posttraumatic stress, their families and friends. I am most appreciative of the opportunity to have it in my library. Anne E. Belcher, PhD, RN, AOCN, ANEF, FAAN Associate Professor and Director, Office for Teaching Excellence The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing In the book Primer on Posttraumatic Growth, Mary Beth Werdel and Robert Wicks offer a sophisticated and multi-factorial introduction of possible positive adaptations after traumatization. They are sensitive to the delicate balance that exists between decline and growth and introduce a spectrum of responses that can develop over time in a subjective and non-linear fashion. For many, after the devastation of trauma comes the opportunity to rework a number of life dimensions. This book is an important and integrative addition to the literature on posttraumatic growth. Christine A. Courtois, PhD, ABPP Psychologist, Private Practice Courtois & Associates, Washington, DC Author, Healing the Incest Wound: Adult Survivors in Therapy (Revised Edition) Recollections of Sexual Abuse: Treatment Principles and Guidelines Co-Author (with Julian Ford), Treating Complex Trauma Stress Disorder. ffirs.indd 1 7/4/2012 3:09:14 PM ffirs.indd 2 7/4/2012 3:09:14 PM   Primer on Posttraumatic Growth An Introduction and Guide Mary Beth Werdel & Robert J. Wicks John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ffirs.indd 3 7/4/2012 3:09:14 PM This book is printed on acid-free paper. Copyright © 2012 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. Published simultaneously in Canada. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 750-8400, fax (978) 646-8600, or on the web at Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, (201) 748-6011, fax (201) 748-6008. 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If this book refers to media such as a CD or DVD that is not included in the version you purchased, you may download this material at For more information about Wiley products, visit library of congress cataloging-in-publication data: Werdel, Mary Beth.   Primer on posttraumatic growth : an introduction and guide / Mary Beth Werdel, Robert J. Wicks.    p. cm.   Includes bibliographical references and index.   ISBN 978-1-118-10678-5 (pbk.)   ISBN 978-1-118-22406-9 (ebk.)   ISBN 978-1-118-23337-5 (ebk.)   ISBN 978-1-118-26228-3 (ebk.)   1.  Emotions.  2.  Distress (Psychology)  I.  Wicks, Robert J.  II.  Title.   BF531.W44 2012   155.2'4—dc23   2012015369 Printed in the United States of America 10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1 ffirs.indd 4 7/4/2012 3:09:14 PM Mary Beth Werdel In memory of my brother, Thomas John Nazzaro; and my role model, Crescentia Healy True Robert J. Wicks In memory of Kelly Murray and her daughter, Sloane, and in honor of her husband, Sean, and their daughters, Jillian, Meghan, Maeve, Quinn, and Kieran Kelly and her daughter, Sloane, died when a tree limb crushed part of their car during a terrible storm. Kelly was only 40 years old at the time, and Sloane was only 7. Kelly was a fine psychologist, passionate professor, gifted author, supermom, and loving wife. As her mentor and friend, I shall not only remember her in all those ways but also as the younger sister I never had. The passion and resilience she had she shared with her husband, Sean, with Sloane, who died with her, and with her other children Jillian, Meghan, Maeve, Quinn, and Kieran, who live on. Since her death, Sean and Kelly’s children have modeled what posttraumatic growth looks like in the flesh. Though they have never stopped loving Kelly, they have looked this tragedy in the eye and come out on the other side, developing talents and having insights that might never have been possible if this terrible event had never happened. They would trade it all I am sure to have her back, but because they cannot they have moved on in ways that inspire us all. Thank you. I am grateful to you all, and to you as well as Kelly and little Sloane I gratefully dedicate this book. ffirs.indd 5 7/4/2012 3:09:14 PM ffirs.indd 6 7/4/2012 3:09:14 PM C ontents Acknowledgments  ix Introduction  xi   1 ◆ Posttraumatic Growth: Concise History, Definitions, and Implications  1   2 ◆ Posttraumatic Growth: Truth or Myth?  35   3 ◆ Meaning  57   4 ◆ Cognitive Processing  77   5 ◆ Positive Emotions and Growth  95   6 ◆ Personality and Personal Attributes  113   7 ◆ Relationships  129   8 ◆ Forgiveness  145   9 ◆ Faith, Suffering, and Religious Coping  159 On the Road to Wisdom: Being a Mindful Companion on the Path to Posttraumatic Growth: An Epilogue  179 References  199 Subject Index  221 Author Index  227 vii ftoc.indd 7 7/3/2012 8:08:54 PM ftoc.indd 8 7/3/2012 8:08:54 PM A cknowledgments Every book has at least several heroes who come to the aid of a project and make it better. This Primer on Posttraumatic Growth: An Introduction and Guide is certainly no exception. We wish to thank Tina Buck for her editorial and research assistance. She repeatedly carefully reviewed the material to see if content and readability lived in the same manuscript. Patricia “Tisha” Rossi, Executive Editor of John Wiley & Sons, had the enthusiasm and encouragement needed to help the coauthors transform an idea into a manuscript. Her involvement in this project made a difference, and the authors are deeply grateful to her for her presence and desire for excellence in a clinical area that is so important to so many people who have experienced serious trauma, yet hold out hope that something wonderful will still come of it, today. ix flast.indd 9 7/3/2012 8:09:36 PM flast.indd 10 7/3/2012 8:09:36 PM I ntr oduction Many people, for much of their lives, are guided by a set of basic assumptions: The world is safe; bad things do not happen to good people; young people are not supposed to die. However, extremely stressful and traumatic life events can violate and even shatter these basic assumptions, resulting in experiences of distress as well as a sense of loss of control, meaning, and predictability. Renowned trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk (2006) described the experience of a traumatic event as one that may leave individuals feeling as if they have “lost their way in the world” (p. 278). This metaphorical language by van der Kolk highlights the close relationship between trauma and loss that is noted throughout the traditional psychological literature. Even though trauma and extreme stress are arguably somewhat rare, everyone experiences internally framed negative events that have the capacity to challenge basic life assumptions in various forms at different times: rejection, illness, caring for an aging parent, unwanted dramatic changes at work, and divorce. More startling events such as rape, abuse, war, or physical attack can cause people to have a complete shutdown. Stressful events such as these, and xi flast.indd 11 7/3/2012 8:09:36 PM xii Introduction the physical and psychological pain that may accompany them, are certainly an undesirable part of life. Current psychological research highlights that even with full acknowledgment of the undesirability of negative life events, the process of enduring and learning from distress can offer a reward that has never before been encountered. This experience may provide new purpose or appreciation for life, creative coping skills, or improved relationships with self and others. The French existentialist philosopher Albert Camus (1968) wrote, “In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer.” Camus’ words provide a clinical metaphor to compliment the one quoted earlier by van der Kolk. Sometimes, only once one finds the self in the depths of a significant stressful life event (that they did not cause but, like the seasons, by merely existing, are asked to encounter) can one ever come to discover within oneself this new source of light (perspective and meaning). A benefit of this new sense of perspective and meaning has been both hinted at and boldly claimed by seekers and searchers in life. Yet, now as an outgrowth of the positive psychology movement, research demonstrates in greater detail—after numerous quantitative and qualitative studies—that how we respond to distress depends on several personal and environmental factors, some out of, but many within, our locus of control. In a moment of self-reflection (often after further guidance that is informal or formal, such as therapy or counseling), we can ask ourselves, do the factors that are within our control ultimately lead us to respond in ways that may deepen and make us more compassionate with ourselves and others or lead us only to numbness and bitterness? These movements in the behavioral sciences in the field of positive psychology help inform us about the myriad ways that people can and do respond to stress and trauma. With a full awareness of the significant negative impacts of such events, the field of positive psychology has taken an interest in the positive benefits that people flast.indd 12 7/3/2012 8:09:36 PM Introduction xiii may come to experience as a result of enduring and learning from a traumatic or stressful life event. Although several terms exist to describe similar constructs, posttraumatic growth, a term coined by Tedeschi and Calhoun (1996), is perhaps the predominant term used now in the psychological literature to describe such positive life changes. Posttraumatic growth conceptually falls into one of three categories: changes in the perception of self, changes in relating to others, and philosophical changes of priorities, appreciations, and spirituality (Calhoun & Tedeschi, 2006). Research on the process of posttraumatic growth states that the path to growth starts with people’s pretrauma cognitive schema about the world and themselves. If they experience a stressful event that conflicts with their personal previously held assumptions about the world and themselves, distress is experienced. When this occurs, they then engage in both an automatic and deliberate rumination process about the stressful event and their responses to the event. Rumination ceases only when they are able to revise their old schema and/or adopt a new one. Changes in schema can include new understandings of the self, new values placed on relationships, or a different purpose in life (Calhoun & Tedeschi, 2006). The implication is that the loss associated with trauma need not represent the full trauma narrative. As a matter of fact, for some people, along with loss, and through enduring and learning from the loss, there is a sense of positive discovery. In addition, the process that can enhance such desirable results is informed and formed by such factors as social relationships, personality characteristics of the individual, the intensity of the stress, and even the relationship some people have with their understanding of the divine. In the following example, Emily, a high school senior, reflects on how she responded to her mother’s diagnosis of breast cancer in December 2001 and their journey together. Emily’s mother had her first mastectomy that year when Emily was in fifth grade and flast.indd 13 7/3/2012 8:09:36 PM xiv Introduction her second in 2002. Emily writes about how she met the stress and trauma and its impact on her, her mother, and her younger sister: I took care of my mother after her chemo treatments, which left her completely drained and exhausted. I also made my sister smile, when reality was becoming too clear for her. With every treatment I grew up a little bit, accepting the level of maturity that was asked of me. Cancer made me grow up a lot quicker then I would have without it in my life. It made me take on responsibility. Most importantly it brought awareness and even hope into my life. . . . After completing the treatments with flying colors, my mom participated in a 3-day walk for breast cancer sponsored by Avon. I stood on the sidelines gazing up with pride at my mother, thinking, “She is the strongest and bravest person I know. She beat breast cancer.” Not only did Emily’s mother survive her double mastectomy, but in 2004 she started a nonprofit program designed for children ages 10 to 18 whose loved ones suffer from cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. In Emily’s words, “It’s a program designed for kids to have fun and to know that they are not alone.” However, when Emily entered her freshman year of high school, her mother’s cancer returned. So did Emily’s stress and trauma, and so did Emily’s growth. The cancer was back, and it was far more severe this time. It was spreading. My mom being the optimistic and determined woman that I loved decided to look into trial drugs. She went through months of tests and treatments. I stood by her side every step of the way. When I was 14-years-old, my mother’s cancer had spread to her stomach and bones. By January of 2006 I knew that flast.indd 14 7/3/2012 8:09:36 PM Introduction xv my mother would most likely only be with me for another two years. In February I was given a rude awakening when my mother sat me down and told me those years had turned into a few months. Life became more real, and each day became more precious. On March 12th those months turned into weeks. The next morning my sister and I were woken up by our aunts who told us that we were going to play hooky from school. Later that day, upon our arrival home, my sister and I were hit with the final blow. My mother was dying. The next day, March 14th, 2006, my mother passed away. I grew up that day. I learned to take advantage of each day, and never take anything for granted, because life is more valuable then gold. You only have one life to live. My mother took advantage of hers; even with her cancer she made a difference in this world. I can only hope that one day I will do the same. Thank you, cancer. Emily thanked cancer. As a 17-year-old, she grasped that the very disease that took the most precious person in her life, her base of emotional and physical security, was in some way presenting her with an opportunity to come to understand something about life for which she was quite grateful. At first glance, she seems to be either in denial or someone tremendous. But Emily’s story, while individual, is neither merely anecdotal nor unique. There is strong data to support the psychological phenomena that what Emily described is also experienced every day by others who are psychologically traversing their own journeys with stress and trauma. However, even though clinicians in the field and those who support clients (friends, family, coworkers, clergy) may be somewhat aware of the phenomena of posttraumatic growth, they may not be aware of the terminology, the abundance of research on the subject, and perhaps most importantly, the significant clinical implications flast.indd 15 7/3/2012 8:09:36 PM xvi Introduction of the research. Given this deficit, Primer on Posttraumatic Growth: An Introduction and Guide seeks to mine the empirical and theoretical material on posttraumatic growth and relate the two in order to provide insight, depth, and applications for both the clinicians who work with those who have experienced dramatic negative events in their lives and for the other people who support victims of trauma and extreme stress. This book will link the latest research in the area of posttraumatic growth with accessible clinical insights that will stress how a certain degree of mindfulness on the part of the counselor/therapist/cojourneyer can significantly contribute to a fuller, more accurate, clinical case conceptualization and thus to more successful clinical interventions relative to stress, trauma, and growth that are more efficacious. Throughout, this primer will stress that clinicians and counselor educators need to be aware that there is an important balance when working with people who have experienced traumatic and extremely stressful life experiences. If clinicians expect certain growth on the part of the clients too quickly, then the clients may begin to feel guilty or shameful that they are not living up to the therapist’s or others’ understanding of what they ought to be discovering as survivors of trauma or stress. Clinicians and caregivers coming from such a vantage point would represent a great misreading of the literature on posttraumatic growth and would consequently have significant negative impacts on therapy or the informal helping relationship. On the other hand, if clinicians and caregivers operate without an awareness of the growth that can follow trauma, then they may miss the possibility to explore a real, and perhaps healing, place within the client’s new schema. Clinically, the goal is the middle path: openness and awareness to the process of growth in clients, with no preconceived expectations or need for clients to undergo the experience. The aim of this book is to lead clinicians and those in the clients’ interpersonal circle who are available to support them into a deeper flast.indd 16 7/3/2012 8:09:36 PM Introduction xvii understanding of reality. If we remain curious, open, and mindful of positive possibilities, clients in the midst of their personal winters may slowly begin to exhibit in external ways the recognition of a newly discovered internal invincible summer. The orientation guiding this book is that in the case of trauma, extreme stresses, or major losses, the clinician’s primary role is to be aware of the major elements of posttraumatic growth so, should they appear, the clinician is then prepared to nurture them in ways that welcome their taking root and growing during therapy when clinically appropriate. In Primer on Posttraumatic Growth: An Introduction and Guide, the approach to each topic is fairly uniform. A succinct coverage of the topic is offered so access to the current thinking and research can be quickly reviewed. Each chapter concludes with three helpful sections. First, a quote from the research literature is presented so that clinicians may orient themselves and continue to fathom the ways the material may resonate with their work. Second, the clinical implications presented in each chapter are outlined at the conclusion of each chapter in order to allow readers to readily appreciate clinically relevant material. Finally, each chapter ends with a short suggested reading list for those who wish to take a deeper look at primary sources on the topic at hand. To accomplish this overview, nine topics have been chosen as a way for the clinician, and those available to informally support the client, to become familiar with some of the central material on posttraumatic growth. Chapter 1, Posttraumatic Growth: Concise History, Definitions, and Implications, begins this process by presenting an historical context for the concept of posttraumatic growth, providing a timeline for work done thus far in the psychological field, as well as clarifying the up-to-date research on the theory of how growth occurs and the psychological factors that growth associates with the research literature. It points to various studies in the empirical research that document that flast.indd 17 7/3/2012 8:09:36 PM xviii Introduction posttraumatic growth may be experienced by persons undergoing such diverse trauma and the extreme stress that is part and parcel of HIV/AIDS diagnosis, cancer, bereavement, domestic violence, physical illness, brain injury, or experiencing 9/11-type terrorist attacks. The authors then read across the studies to broaden consideration of the essential question: Who may experience growth from struggle? In addition, this chapter considers growth, which in the past has sometimes been erroneously viewed as being only a form of resistance or denial, as a possible profound beneficial cognitive shift in the making. This viewpoint is shown to be important for therapists to appreciate, because their vantage point can and does affect how they intervene and will in turn influence the outcomes of therapy. Chapter 2, Posttraumatic Growth: Truth or Myth?, presents some of the main voices in the controversy surrounding posttraumatic growth that centers on the argument of whether the subjective experience of posttraumatic growth is a reality or an illusion (Sumalla, Ochoa, & Blanco, 2009). The argument exists partly because obtaining pretrauma scores of growth is, practically speaking, quite difficult (Ransom, Sheldon, & Jacobsen, 2008). Therefore, the chapter discusses a belief by some in the field that posttraumatic growth is not actual but perceived. It has been proposed that the experience of trauma drops an individual’s level of functioning to a decreased level following the occurrence and that the growth a trauma victim reports is actually only a return to baseline functioning. Two theories that support this view of growth as being illusionary are reviewed: They are the temporal comparison theory (Albert, 1977) and the cognitive adaption theory (Taylor, 1983). The chapter then concludes with what researchers consider a less extreme response to the argument against growth—Maercker and Zoellner’s (2004) Janus face model of self-perceived posttraumatic growth. From the vantage point of this model, posttraumatic growth is considered as flast.indd 18 7/3/2012 8:09:36 PM

Author Mary Beth Werdel and Robert J. Wicks Isbn 9781118106785 File size 9.7 MB Year 2012 Pages 257 Language English File format PDF Category Personality Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare “From the inspiring chapter quotes, to relevant historical and current research, to practical clinical directions, Primer on Posttraumatic Growth takes a giant step toward both grounding us and moving us ahead with strong hope for adjustment and growth in the post-trauma/loss world. This is a comprehensive, practical, and readable work that should be at hand for any mental health clinician, pastoral care professional, or student preparing for these professions.” —J. Shep Jeffreys, EdD, FT, author of Helping Grieving People—When Tears Are Not Enough: A Handbook for Care Providers, Second Edition A guide for helping your clients overcome negative events, based on the latest research on posttraumatic growth Drawing on the growing empirical and theoretical material on posttraumatic growth—an outgrowth of the positive psychology movement—Primer on Posttraumatic Growth provides insight, depth, and treatment recommendations for both the clinicians who work with those who have experienced dramatic negative events in their lives and for other professionals who support victims of trauma and extreme stress. This essential primer examines: The connections between meaning and growth The impact of cognitive processing on posttraumatic growth Positive emotion and posttraumatic growth Posttraumatic growth and an “open” personality The human drive to be in positive and important interpersonal relationships Forgiveness: can it be extended towards all areas of posttraumatic growth? Posttraumatic growth and religious and spiritual variables Wisdom and posttraumatic growth     Download (9.7 MB) Beyond Iq: Scientific Tools For Training Problem Solving, Intuition, Emotional Intelligence, Creativity, And More Simple Lessons For A Better Life: Unexpected Inspiration From Inside The Nursing Home Right-brained Children In A Left-brained World: Unlocking The Potential Of Your Add Child Psychopathology: History, Diagnosis, And Empirical Foundations, 2 Edition A Casebook of Cognitive Therapy for Traumatic Stress Reactions Load more posts

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