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Understanding Post-Traumatic Growth by Attending to Contextual Influences and Developing Wise Interventions to Promote It

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Abstract

Jayawickreme and Blackie offered recommendations on how the conceptual framework of post-traumatic growth can benefit from greater attention to measurement and methodology. We offer two additional considerations. Emerging research suggests that brief and specific psychological interventions produce lasting changes in how people view themselves and their environment. In the early post-trauma phase, these interventions are worthy of exploration. Additionally, a focus on who is experiencing what type of trauma offers a contextual lens missing from the hunt for universal, silver-bullet approaches to mental health promotion. Copyright (C) 2014 European Association of Personality Psychology

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... However, there are few studies that appropriately address how to promote PTG in people, especially in the case of refugees. To quote Blalock, Calton, and Kashdan (2014): "greater attention to post-trauma interventions, particularly those that are both effective and efficient, is necessary to make research practically useful" (p. 333). ...
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There are good reasons to be skeptical about any efforts to bring together two fields of inquiry that have historically had little to do with each other - that is, personality psychology and the study of human development. Personality psychologists are by training, and maybe even temperament, suspicious of the idea of development, for to them it means change (i.s. instability, inconsistency), and personality is nothing if it is not at least somewhat enduring. Developmentalists, on the other hand, specialize in a certain kind of change - meaningful and orderly change over time.
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Hedonic adaptation refers to the process by which individuals return to baseline levels of happiness following a change in life circumstances. Dominant models of subjective well-being (SWB) suggest that people can adapt to almost any life event and that happiness levels fluctuate around a biologically determined set point that rarely changes. Recent evidence from large-scale panel studies challenges aspects of this conclusion. Although inborn factors certainly matter and some adaptation does occur, events such as divorce, death of a spouse, unemployment, and disability are associated with lasting changes in SWB. These recent studies also show that there are considerable individual differences in the extent to which people adapt. Thus, happiness levels do change, and adaptation is not inevitable.