Post Traumatic Growth Comes Full Circle

The brain likes what is familiar. Trauma creates a loss overall and the brain has difficulty attaching a meaningful story to it because it is not familiar. Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) coming full circle is the result of successfully processing such trauma. PTG is what happens after trauma has been processed and a different story is attached to the event. When one experiences trauma directly or indirectly, it often creates disconnection, depressive symptoms, avoidance behaviors, startle reflex, lack of safety, hyper vigilance, feeling detached from others and at times, psychotic states (dissociation). Once the trauma is fully processed, the therapist will often move the patient into what is termed the “Post Traumatic Growth” stage in order to heal the heart.

There are 3 important stages to PTG. To fully experience the healing of the heart, the patient is, first, encouraged to re-establish connections. Humans rely on social contexts and frameworks to feel a sense of belonging and comfort. Re-establishing connections requires trust and risk, which may be a challenge at this stage. Secondly, feeling a sense of compassion for self and others begins to develop with time. It is expected that, at this stage, that the patient will begin to continue with self care techniques, while developing and maintaining an empathic response within their social circles. Finally, when the patient is able to extend his or her compassion into a meaningful contribution to help others, a true genuine connection is made. It is often at the contribution stage where the PTG comes full circle. And, when a patient comes full circle, hope emerges. And, hope can change the world.

~Lisa Schiro, M.S., LPC