Posttraumatic growth in military populations

Theory, research, and application

Authored by: K. C. Kalmbach , Bret A. Moore

The Routledge International Handbook of Military Psychology and Mental Health

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367237066
eBook ISBN: 9780429281266
Adobe ISBN:


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Many religious, philosophical, and historical texts contain the theme of the hero's struggle through extraordinary trauma and tribulation to emerge with profound and transformational wisdom and growth. Although the experience is not new, it has only been in the last two decades that the term posttraumatic growth (PTG) was coined and researchers began to define the construct, which appears to be reflected in personal narratives of diverse cultures and regions worldwide. Researchers have described PTG as both a process and an outcome; a transformational positive psychological change as a result of the struggle with traumatic or highly challenging life-altering circumstances. PTG is argued to be distinct from—yet potentially overlapping—the recovery process from traumatic stress exposure as is common in interventions for stress disorders. Factor analysis of the posttraumatic growth inventory (PTGI) yielded five domains: greater appreciation of life and changed priorities; warmer, more intimate relations with others; greater sense of personal strength; recognition of new possibilities; and spiritual development. Over the last two decades, systematic research with both military and civilian trauma survivors has validated the PTG model. Findings are complex and sometimes paradoxical; nonetheless, common themes have emerged. A number of factors that appear to promote or be predictive of PTG are identified. An overview of theory, research, and best practice for facilitating PTG with trauma survivors is provided.

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