post-traumatic growth

Listen in to hear Jen, Melissa and Bridger discuss the concept of post-traumatic growth and how this understanding can help you through your healing journey.

What is Post-Traumatic Growth?

  • Post-traumatic growth is a concept that means that you have grown in resiliency and personal emotional strength as a result of healing from your trauma.  You are stronger and more resilient than you were before. 
  • Important to note that PTSD and post-traumatic growth are not mutually exclusive. You can experience one or the other or both at the same time.
  • PTSD and post-traumatic growth are two identifiers of common reactions to trauma. 

What if I haven’t felt my growth?

  • Sometimes, it is there but because of some of the trauma symptoms, we feel disconnected from it. We also tend to diminish our own growth and strength in the midst of a healing journey.
  • Part of the therapeutic process is helping you connect with and identify the strengths you have developed in the aftermath of the trauma.

Most Common Elements of Post-Traumatic Growth

  • Example: Enhanced empathy
  • Our general sense of empathy becomes much deeper and our understanding becomes much stronger. 
  • Connecting and empathizing with others who may have shared similar experiences  
  • Adult children of abuse, sexual assault victims, adult children of divorced parents, etc. 
  • Knowing we are capable of handling incredible hardships and continuing to move forward in life.
  • Learning who the people are that are truly supportive to us.

Post-traumatic growth is not just about surviving, it’s about thriving.

  • Resolving the trauma and reducing the need for our coping strategies
  • Shift in perspective is a huge part of post-traumatic growth
  • Another element would be the ability to actually experience life again, not through all the insulation that was necessary for protection during and after the trauma. 
  • You can experience life in real time and know that it’s safe to engage with life again.

Trauma Bonding v.s. Post-Trauma Growth 

  • An example of trauma bonding would be meeting someone who shares a similar traumatic experience and dwelling on it. 
  • Feeling seen and understood.
  • Instead of post-traumatic growth, which is coming forward and becoming stronger.

The way people speak about their trauma is an indicator of whether or not they are experiencing post-traumatic growth

  • Deep acceptance of trauma 
  • Total release of shame associated with going through that experience 
  • Not false positivity; 
  • Knowing oneself and our capabilities 
  • Meaning-making 
  • Feelings of gratitude 
  • Your feelings are so valid- you never have to invalidate that experience.

The Effect of Trauma on the Brain and Body

  • Our brains develop in a way that is dependent on our experiences 
  • The mind is a result of all the experiences we’ve had throughout our lives
  • “I know that is it over in my mind, but it doesn’t feel like it’s over.”
  • Parts of our brain is still processing our trauma when it hasn’t been resolved.
  • When we truly believe that both our mind and body are safe in connection, then we can begin to grow.
  • The agreement of what I think and what I feel, then growth is almost inevitable.
  • When we are put in an ideal environment, it is almost inevitable that growth and healing will occur. 


  • Just because we come into a triggering situation, doesn’t mean your growth is no longer real.
  • There is no shame in the impulse to self-protect
  • Noticing an overreaction in someone you’re close to allows you to have a sensitivity to where they are coming from. Understand it may not be about you personally.

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