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12 Oct 2023

Post Traumatic Growth (PTG)


The opportunities for growth and development are bounteous.  Even in times of adversity and challenge great things can occur.  Mostly it depends on one’s attitude and purpose

Just ask 2018 Nobel Prize winning economist Dr Paul Romer. He is of the opinion that "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste."   Evidence suggests that good things can come out of extremely trying circumstances.

The thinking around the positive aspects of growth came in the 1990’s when, US-based psychologists Dr Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun, developed a concept called post-traumatic growth (PTG)—a variation of the more common PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  They researched the impact of trauma and the long-term outcomes following an impact on mental or emotional functioning.

The evidence showed that people did suffer post a traumatic event, but the unexpected outcome was that half to two thirds of PTSD patients experienced PTG and the ability to thrive after adversity. They honed down the indicators to produce ways to measure and monitor the possibility of positive results.

The scale

The scale they developed is called the Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory. It looks for positive responses in five areas:

  • Appreciation of life.
  • Relationships with others.
  • New possibilities in life.
  • Personal strength.
  • Spiritual change.

The scale drills down into more specific areas that are relevant to ageing and wellbeing as well as some of the more important potential ‘negative’ influences of traumatic events.  This focus is on: 

  • A deeper appreciation for life and each other.
  • Increased compassion across the world for the experiences of others.
  • Enriched relationships with others – research shows positive relationships and long-term satisfaction with life correlate.
  • Forgiveness
  • Openness to new possibilities in life.
  • A spur of innovation like better health care systems, prevention of future outbreaks, and new treatment options.
  • Resilience and psychological strength.
  • Spiritual changes.
  • Re-evaluating our choices and what is most important to us leading to positive outcomes.

When there is seemingly no end to ‘dark times’, building your resilience will pay dividend and introduce a much-needed source of positivity and hope. Purpose, also, is one of the factors to produce a new found direction of growth out of adversity becoming opportunity. 

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Date Published: August 2021

Reviewed: September 2022

To be reviewed: September 2025