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Positive and negative changes after trauma | Psychology Today

Trauma can shatter peoples’ world assumptions. In the process of rebuilding an assumptive world people often report ways in which they change positively. It is becoming increasingly important to integrate this idea into trauma work.
To help do this my colleagues and I have developed a new self-report psychometric tool – the Psychological Well-Being Post-Traumatic Changes Questionnaire (PWB-PTCQ) with which to assess positive changes following trauma.

To illustrate, a sample six items are shown below.

Read each statement below and rate how you have changed as a result of the trauma.

5 = much more so now

4 = A bit more so now

3 = I feel the same about this as before

2 – A bit less so now

1 = Much less so now

1. I like myself____

2. I have confidence in my opinions____

3. I have a sense of purpose in life____

4. I have strong and close relationships in my life____

5. I feel I am in control of my life____

6. I am open to new experiences that challenge me____

Responses to these statements provide an opportunity for people to reflect on how they have changed. 

Did you score over 3 on any of the items? 

Can you think of think of one or two examples in your life that illustrate these changes?

Are there things you can do in the coming weeks that will help you build on and strengthen these changes?

Clinicians will also find the new tool useful as it allows them to bridge their traditional concerns of psychological suffering with the new psychology of posttraumatic growth. The full scale is 18 items so it is not too time consuming and can be used alongside traditional measures of PTSD.

This is not the first such measure of positive changes to have been developed. But there is a difference.

Those of us who study positive changes following adversity are sometimes criticised for offering an unrealistically optimistic view of the world. I don’t think this is true as the literature makes it clear that change can also be in a negative direction. But the critics may be right that this needed to be more fairly recognised in our measurement tools. 

At any single point in time people will have changed in either negative or positive ways.

But existing measures do not offer the opportunity for people to say how they have changed in a negative direction as well as in a positive direction.

Thus, an important and novel aspect of this new instrument is that it recognises that people may also experience themselves as having changed in negative ways.

Did you score under 3 on any of the items?

If you scored under 3 on one or more of the items, is this causing you considerable problems at home or at work?  Is it leading to significant difficulties with family, friends or colleagues?  Have you tried dealing with the problems already, maybe through reading self-help or talking to others? If so, it may be appropriate to seek professional advice.

So as well as giving indications of how people may grow following trauma the PWB-PTCQ can also help people understand the ways in which they need to look after themselves better or flag up areas in which they might need professional help.

The full questionnaire is described in my new book, What Doesn’t Kill Us: The New Psychology of Posttraumatic Growth http://www.whatdoesntkillus.com.

But the book does not go into full technical detail on its psychometric development. For those who do want to learn more the research paper describing the development of the new tool is now available online in the journal Psychological Trauma http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2011-17454-001/

In the paper we describe the logic behind the questionnaire, its advantages and the research showing its reliability and validity.

I hope this work will interest people. I am always eager to meet new research collaborators – there is so much more yet to be done in this field – so if this new tool does spark some interest in you to use in your own research or clinic please do get in touch.

Ron Huxley’s Reaction: It is good to see a “strength-based” approach to trauma. Trauma has many negative impacts in someones life but it is not destiny. Many people do become stronger and more resilient following a traumatic event. How would score yourself on the measures listed above?

10 Tools for Positive Attachment | Psychology Today

It’s never too late to have a close relationship with someone you love. If you had a connection before, you can have it again. If you need a model for building a good relationship, consider what the word “attachment” spells out:

A: Attachment is about creating a bond with those you love. It requires that you accept life’s imperfections and get okay with things being “good enough.” When you have a good attachment with the ones you love almost any obstacle can be overcome.

T: Touch is a very important part of being attached. If you’re not getting enough, talk with your mate about it. Physical connection is a necessary part of creating a healthy attachment. If you don’t want or need to be touched, that’s okay, but if your partner isn’t on the same page, it will chip away at your foundation.

T: Thoughtfulness means that, even in times of strife, you somehow always manage to consider your partner first. You need to want your partner to be happy, and thinking about him or her should make you happy.

A: Affirming verbally how you feel is very important for many people. To never hear “I love you” from your mate can leave you feeling as though you are not truly wanted. Many men and women need to hear they are valued. This is a case where actions do not speak louder than words.

C: Connecting with your partner by looking into his or her eyes, holding hands, and just saying “thank you for being in my life” or holding each other tightly for several minutes are both powerful tools. Give them a shot.

H: Hoping for a better tomorrow is critical for relationships that are in healing mode. If you both honestly commit to working on your relationship together, you will have the best chance of getting through a rough patch.

M: Memories of happier times will help you find the strength you need to get things back on track if you have lost your feelings of attachment. Knowing that you were once in love can give you the motivation you need to find it again.

E: Emotional availability and support are the cornerstones of a loving intimate relationship. Your partner needs to know that you’re going to be there for him or her.

N: Needing another person is not a sign of weakness. Yes, people can be too needy, and insecure behavior can make it difficult for a couple to bond appropriately. But everyone needs to feel valued and that his or her feelings won’t be dismissed.

T: Trusting that you are loved is essential. If you have any doubts, it’s best to sit down and talk about them. Communicating, verbally and nonverbally, is the best tool for creating what you want.

After a little time, what you may find is that your partner isn’t perfect and neither are you. Of course, that means that your relationship isn’t perfect either. It is, however, good enough.

Ron Huxley’s Additions: As a family therapist, parenting educator and parents, I welcome any movements toward building strong families. It is what the Parenting Toolbox web site has always been about. These 10 tools give some great advice on how to establish the building blocks of relationships. It is actually based on some serious science but that isn’t important here. Practice these parenting tools today.