Trauma & Transformation: Growing in the Aftermath of Suffering


Richard G. Tedeschi & Lawrence G. Calhoun

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  • Back Matter
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  • Dedication

    For Mary Lynne, Eliza, and Mary Laura. The joys of my life.

    L. G. C.

    For Joan, Michael, and my parents, for all they have given.

    R. G. T.


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    This volume is an attempt to weave together material from various writings in philosophy, religion, and especially psychology to account for a phenomenon that has been recognized since ancient times but given little attention by psychologists: the experience of personal growth or strengthening that often occurs in persons who have faced traumatic events. We use an essentially cognitive framework to explain this experience because changes in belief systems seem to be so often reported by persons who describe their growth, and these beliefs appear to play a central role in relieving emotional distress and encouraging useful activity.

    Although both of us have experienced traumatic events in our lives, we are personally unfamiliar with many of the events mentioned in this book. Our teachers have been the clients with whom we have worked as clinicians, and the people who have agreed to talk with us, sometimes for hours, as part of our research studies in this area. It is to these people we owe the greatest debt. They have not only informed us as psychologists, but made us more sensitive to the struggles and victories of those who have been most painfully touched by life.

    We hope that we have presented information in a way that is accessible to clinicians, laypersons, and especially in Chapter 9, other people who have experienced trauma. We have also tried to summarize a far-flung literature and describe a way of understanding the process of growth that will encourage more attention from researchers. In addition, we believe that this book can be used as a supplementary text in courses on human development, crisis intervention, and introductory courses in counseling and psychotherapy. It is also our hope that this book will be useful as a resource for helping professionals in a variety of disciplines, including psychology, social work, psychiatry, family counseling, human services, nursing, and sociology.

    We wish to acknowledge the assistance of Arnie Cann, Lori Folk, Carl Frye, Donna Harding, and the other students and colleagues with whom we have the pleasure to work. We thank Raymond Berger for his helpful and incisive review of our manuscript. We are especially grateful for the reassignment of duties granted to the senior author by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. This greatly facilitated the completion of this project. Finally, we express our appreciation to our editors at Sage, Marquita Flemming and Jim Nageotte, for supporting our work.

    Richard G.Tedeschi, Lawrence G.Calhoun, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Appendix: The Post Traumatic Growth Inventory

    Indicate for each of the statements below the degree to which this change occurred in your life as a result of your crisis, using the following scale.

    • 1 = I did not experience this change as a result of my crisis.
    • 2 = I experienced this change to a very small degree as a result of my crisis.
    • 3 = I experienced this change to a small degree as a result of my crisis.
    • 4 = I experienced this change to a moderate degree as a result of my crisis.
    • 5 = I experienced this change to a great degree as a result of my crisis.
    • 6 = I experienced this change to a very great degree as a result of my crisis.
    • My priorities about what is important in life. (IV)
    • I'm more likely to try to change things which need changing. (I)
    • An appreciation for the value of my own life. (IV)
    • A feeling of self-reliance. (Ill)
    • A better understanding of spiritual matters. (V)
    • Knowing that I can count on people in times of trouble. (II)
    • A sense of closeness with others. (II)
    • Knowing I can handle difficulties. (Ill)
    • A willingness to express my emotions. (II)
    • Being able to accept the way things work out. (Ill)
    • Appreciating each day. (IV)
    • Having compassion for others. (II)
    • I'm able to do better things with my life. (I)
    • New opportunities are available which wouldn't have been otherwise. (I)
    • Putting effort into my relationships. (II)
    • I have a stronger religious faith. (V)
    • I discovered that I'm stronger than I thought I was. (Ill)
    • I learned a great deal about how wonderful people are. (II)
    • I developed new interests. (I)
    • I accept needing others. (II)
    • I established a new path for my life. (I)
    NOTE: Scale is scored by adding all responses. Factors are scored by adding responses to items on factors.

    Factor I: New Possibilities

    Factor II: Relating to Others

    Factor III: Personal Strength

    Factor IV: Appreciation of Life

    Factor V: Spiritual Change

    The Development of the Post Traumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI)
    Item Development

    The first step in developing the PTGI was a general review of studies of perceived benefits. Thirty-four items were generated.

    Factor Analysis

    A factor analysis was performed on these items using a principal component extraction and varimax rotation, yielding six factors. These accounted for 55% of the common variance and included 21 items that loaded greater than .5 on one of the five factors without loading .4 or greater on any other factor. There was a Pearson product-moment correlation of r = .98 between total score based on the 21-item version of the PTGI and the total score based on 34 items.


    Females reported more benefits (M = 75.18, SD = 21.24) than males (M = 67.77, SD = 22.07), t(1, 590) = 3.94, p < .001. Females also scored higher than males on every factor except New Possibilities.

    Internal Consistency and Test-Retest Reliability

    The internal consistency of the PTGI is α = .90, and for the factors, a ranged from .67 to .85. Corrected item-scale correlations (r = .35 to r = .63) indicated that all items are measuring a similar underlying construct, but none is overly redundant with the others. The Pearson product-moment correlations among the subscales ranged from r = .27 to r = .52.

    In a sample of 28 persons, the test-retest reliability over a 2-month period for the 21 items was r = .71.

    Construct Validity

    Some discriminant validity work has been done with samples ranging from N = 318 to N = 449. Only the Appreciation of Life factor is related to social desirability, but the modest relationship (r = −.15) indicates that persons reporting more appreciation of life are less likely to present themselves in a socially desirable fashion. The PTGI is modestly correlated with optimism (r = .23), as measured by the Life Orientation Test (Scheier & Carver, 1985). Among the “Big Five” factors of personality, as measured by the NEO Personality Inventory (Costa & McCrae, 1985), the PTGI is most strongly related to Extroversion (r = .29). It is also related at more modest levels to Openness to Experience (r = .21), Agreeableness (r = .18), and Conscientiousness (r = .16). There is no relationship with Neuroticism, indicating that persons who report benefits from experiencing trauma are neither more nor less well adjusted than persons who do not report these benefits.

    Persons experiencing severe trauma reported more benefits than those who did not, on the PTGI score and on the following factors: New Possibilities, Relating to Others, Personal Strength, and Appreciation of Life. Females who experienced trauma received higher scores on the PTGI (M = 90.26) than did males (M = 73.48). Complete data on scale development and validity studies are reported in Tedeschi and Calhoun (in press).


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    About the Authors

    Richard G. Tedeschi is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a practicing clinical psychologist. He is the author of articles on coping and growth in response to trauma, with bereavement being a particular area of study. He has been interested in the process of mutual support as a facilitator of parental and sibling bereavement support groups for many years. His university teaching has focused on the psychology of personality and on clinical training and supervision, especially integrative therapy techniques and clinician responses to client trauma. His nonprofessional time is taken up with tending to his patch of land in the country.

    Lawrence G. Calhoun is Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a practicing clinical psychologist. He is the coauthor of Dealing With Crisis (1976), Psychology and Human Reproduction (1980), and numerous scholarly articles, and he is currently on the editorial board of Omega—Journal of Death and Dying. His scholarly activities have focused on the responses of persons encountering significant life crises and on the social responses of others to the individuals directly affected by trauma. He has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in a variety of applied areas, and his clinical work is focused on adults facing depression and anxiety or coping with highly challenging life circumstances. His nonprofessional interests include reading, pickup games of basketball, and, as a Brazilian-born American, a fanatical devotion to World Cup soccer.

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