Kilpatrick, et al., (2013) found that (89.7%), people were exposed to multiple traumatic event types using the DSM criteria. Trauma experiences have been associated with both benefits and consequences. One effect is the loss of control throughout the trauma may be linked to cognitive dispensation (Dekel, Mandl, & Solomon, 2011). Joseph and Lindley (2006) noted that people have a tendency to assimilate positive and negative parts of their traumatic experiences with other aspects of human experience. This process works on a timeframe unique to each person’s experience. Organismic Valuing theory suggests that the natural direction for successful processing occurs through post-traumatic growth (Joseph et al.,). During the sequence of perceptions, regulation, and functioning a person may work to accommodate pre-trauma cognitions and post-trauma meanings (Joseph et al., 2012). Trauma survivors who experience trouble integrating the aspects of their experience might benefit from a professional helper (Joseph et al., 2012).
Psychological adjustment to trauma is not regularly associated with negative outcomes but related with several PTG outcomes (Cordova and Andrykowski, 2003). The perception of trauma experience can be influenced by a person’s culture, environment, spirituality, and support system, etc. Trauma experiences navigate people through spiritual pathways to help accommodate post-traumatic growth. The use of a broader conceptual framework could help assist trauma survivors in their processing work (Bray, 2011). Research reveals that trauma survivors compared to people who have not experienced trauma, report higher levels of positive change (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1996). Linley and Joseph (2004) indicated in their research that positive change is usually reported by survivors at 30 to 70 percent regarding countless traumatic incidents. Survivors often experience this change by gaining a new positive outlook (Joseph, Williams & Yule, 1993). Often survivors report valuing their support system more and gaining a greater perception of their self-resiliency. People often experience a transformation in their life philosophy and their meaning-making process (Joseph, Murphy & Regel, 2012).
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Trauma, though experienced by most people, is perceived differently based on the person’s interpersonal meaning. Posttraumatic growth is when a person has experienced aspects of psychological growth post-trauma (Park, 2010; Park & Ai, 2006). The meaning developed after a traumatic experience demonstrates a person’s ability work toward positive change. Several aspects are thought to be associated with post-traumatic growth in trauma survivors and their view of sacred worldviews. Some examples include connecting to others, new prospects, spiritual transformation, gratefulness of life, etc., (Harms and Talbot, 2007).
Previous research by (Park et., 2010) notes that meaning-making and adjustment following trauma suggest that individuals experience anguish when inconsistencies exist between their global beliefs and established reasoning of the trauma. Such inconsistencies can lead to distress and depending on the severity of distress it can affect the likelihood of post-traumatic growth being experienced. In a longitudinal study Gunty et al., (2011) indicated that a change is based on the degree of distress; those who have experience more distress having a weaker correlation for change than those who experienced less distress post trauma. Distress helps to establish the distinction between post-traumatic stress and post-traumatic growth. (Tedeschi and Calhoun, 2006) established that post-traumatic growth is related to how a person grows from their traumatic experience despite the event’s stressors, which proposes that positive growth can be achieved through the severe suffering of trauma survivors.
Spirituality and Trauma
Trauma survivors are able to identify greater dimensions of their experience, which allows for a foundation in spiritual factors in grief work (Shaw et al., 2005). Calhoun et al., notes that the post-traumatic growth and psycho-spiritual transformation model combines two approaches to trauma and grief work; subsequently comparing spiritual views pre and post trauma after a traumatic event has occurred. (2006). A meta-analysis of 103 studies demonstrated that spirituality, coping, religious coping, optimism, the support system has been linked with post-traumatic growth (Prati and Pietrantoni 2009). It has been shown in numerous studies that traumatic experiences can lead to positive spiritual coping and participation in religious communities (Michael & Cooper, 2013). Bray (2006), noted that a trauma survivor has the potential to grow and gain a spiritual experienced. This form of post-traumatic growth is recognized through the psychological and the psychodynamic integration (Bray, 2006). The perception of God is often categorized into two; the benevolent or authoritarian Previous research by (Aten et al., 2008) notes the amount of increased interest in believers of faith meaning-making processes after a traumatic event; specifically perceiving adversity as God’s plan. Johnson and Friedman (2008), Transpersonal Psychology provides a way to interpret the influence of spirituality on bereavement and factors of post-traumatic growth. Transpersonal psychology focuses on the deeper dimensions needed for people to cope spirituality after surviving a trauma (Bray, 2001). The psycho-spiritual and transpersonal model helps to assist clinicians in concentrating on the spiritual and religious factors that many people rely on in the coping process.
Spirituality and Growth
Research specifies that people often use spirituality and religion as means of coping with traumatic events (Wortmann and Park, 2008). Wortmann et al., noted that spiritual challenges experienced after a traumatic event can lead to a correlation between trauma and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Trauma survivor’s perception of life’s meaning and purpose can be influenced by their beliefs and religious practice (Park, 2007). This type of religious influence can help aid a person in spiritual growth (Park, 2005). Religious coping acts as a predictor of post-traumatic growth and positive outcomes (Gall et al., 2009). Research studies have shown the importance of focusing less on religion and more on the existential questions that survivors seek after a traumatic event (Calhoun 2006, 2008). Peteet et al. 2010, noted that more focus on how the client’s spirituality and religiosity during their distressful events can support professional helpers in differentiating positive growth and irrational progressions.
Post-traumatic growth was associated with coping skills related to emotions, such as religious coping, positive outlook, for older women (Park, 2005). Park (2005), suggested that such forms of positive regards of the trauma event during the coping process could influence the women to use religion as means of avoidance coping in the future. Avoidance, surrender, and acceptance are a few of the various forms of religious coping. In certain situations of desperation, trauma survivors may depend on their active surrender to help them make meaning (Galla, Charbonneaua & Florack, 2009). However, this form of meaning-making might present an unresolved meaning-making process (Galla et al., 2009). The theory of meaning reconstruction affirms the belief that people who deal with spiritual and religious disturbances are challenged to assess how they create their meaning (Neimeyer, 1998). Research in western bereavement has started to recognize that in most cultures, appreciate spiritual experiences even if traumatic, due to the amount of growth it produces (Bray, 2011). Though many cultural worldviews influence how trauma experiences are perceived spiritually, such spiritual conceptualizations may adversely impact a survivors meaning structure (Stroebe et al. 1992).
Attachment to God
Research shows that people who rely on prayers prospects have a stronger link between prayers and positive mental health results. Positive prayer prospects also tend to help in relieving mental health distress stemming from complex trauma (Ellison et al., 2014). In studies focused on older persons, the ones who believed that their prayers would be answered had more beneficial outcomes in comparison to those who believed God was not answering their prayers (Krause 2004; Krause and Hayward 2013). There have been several strides in the research of religious coping, but it is still less understood how religious coping is related to the several styles of God attachment (Kelley and Chan, 2012). There are several types of attachment styles to God, but there are three main styles recognized in the most literature (secure, insecure, and anxious). People with a secure attachment style to God recognize God as being benevolent, while those with an insecure attachment view God as authoritative and people with an anxious style perceive God to be unpredictable (Kirkpatrick and Shaver 1992; Rowatt and Kirkpatrick 2002). Each style’s more often used in some cultures more than others. Such attachment styles can influence the amount of post-traumatic growth, healthy coping skills, and meaning-making person experiences (Ellison et al., 2014).
Certain attachment styles are theorized to be indicative of a person’s relationship with God (Johnson, Okun, and Cohen, 2014). As previously stated specific styles help a person to develop their view of prayer and thus effect post-traumatic growth. Theory of Mind (Barrett, (2004) noted how the theory focuses on the attainment of possessing aspects and notions of God in times of unfortunate events. The Theory of Mind focuses on the person’s interpretation of an event and the meaning-making process that brings them to peace or more distress. This theory and many others have been researched to focus on how to better assist people in the psychological processes. In the present paper, the role of spirituality and norms in post-traumatic growth is investigated. It is hypothesized that a benevolent view of the sacred will be more closely associated with growth/positive adjustment (e.g., less distress, greater PTG). The subsequent literature review attempts to establish and support this premise.