How Trauma Can Trigger Positive Transformation

By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

There’s a common misconception surrounding trauma. We assume that after someone experiences trauma, they might develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or return to their old life.

But many individuals also experience something else: positive change. In fact, in 1996 psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun coined the term “post-traumatic growth” to describe this phenomenon (in this paper).

In the book Upside: The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth , journalist Jim Rendon writes: “In study after study, research shows that about half or more trauma survivors report positive changes as a result of their experience. Sometimes these are small changes — they feel that life has more meaning, that they are closer to their loved ones. For some the changes are life-altering, sending people on career and life paths they never would have considered before, transforming who they are and how they view the world.”

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