The aftermath of traumatic experiences often leaves an indelible mark on the lives of those affected. These events can activate a range of emotions, from fear and anger to sadness and confusion. However, amidst the turmoil, there emerges resilience – a strength born out of adversity. This phenomenon is known as post-traumatic growth (PTG). According to research, about 50% to 75% of trauma survivors experience some form of PTG.
The Potential for Growth Amidst Trauma
Often, the narrative around traumatic events focuses on the debilitating effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but less is said about the possibility of growth that can follow. While PTSD affects approximately 8 million adults in the U.S. each year, many of these individuals also experience PTG, transforming their trauma into an opportunity for positive change.
The Role of Give an Hour
Give an Hour has been instrumental in fostering an environment where post-traumatic growth can flourish. Our peer work and support group programs have become a beacon of hope and a safe harbor for many on the journey of healing. One such initiative is the Route91Heals Grant Project in collaboration with Ventura County Behavioral Health.
Since its inception, this project has supported 1,434 survivors and family members, forging 50 partnerships with various organizations. The impact of these efforts cannot be overstated.
“To say I’m incredibly grateful for each and every one of you and the group as a whole is a vast understatement… This group has played such a huge role in my healing journey…Thank you for providing us a safe place to share our struggles, triumphs, tears and many laughs.” – L.N. (Peer Group Member)
Current Work in Uvalde, Texas
In the wake of the incident in Uvalde, Texas last year, Give an Hour, led by Clinician Bob Stead, continues to provide support to local families affected by the tragedy. In an effort to support healing and resilience in the younger population, a specially designed coloring book has been created and will be available for free download for students and children affiliated with Uvalde.
Experiencing Post-Traumatic Growth
Outreach Coordinator, Michael Morisette, joined Give an Hour as a volunteer following the loss of his daughter, Kristina, who was working at the Borderline Bar and Grill during the shooting. Michael has found purpose through the pain of this tragedy by supporting others and sharing his lived experience. He has since become a key team member for the Route91 Heals Project.
Reflecting on his own healing journey, Michael notes: “One of the hardest parts of suffering through a ‘lived experience’ is that feeling that others simply don’t understand what you are going through, that you are alone. Being able to provide a place where impacted folks can come together to connect, learn, and grow both individually and as partners in a journey towards healing, is an honor and a privilege.”
Michael emphasizes that healing is not a destination but sometimes a lifelong journey following trauma. He continues to unmask his trauma in the pursuit of helping others do the same.
“Sometimes, reaching out to folks impacted by traumatic events can be about showing them ways, through the sharing of stories, to pull themselves out of a dark spiral, or to help them climb out of a ‘stuck’ and dangerous place. Sometimes it can be about showing them ways that others have been able to move forward, even as a changed person, towards the elusive idea of ‘healing.’ But, healing is not a destination, it is a direction to be favored and a choice to be made. Sometimes intensely productive coping mechanisms can be confused with post-traumatic growth, but true growth does not replace the work that is needed to heal, it encourages it. When we can turn from where we were, not forget it, but move beyond it… when we can accept that we have a story that not only gives us strength but others too… when we can see that finding and pursuing a purpose in embracing our changed identity, even through all the pain, is not just the path towards healing ourselves, but others… then we are on the road towards post-traumatic growth.”
Giving the Journey of Healing a VOICE
One of the ways we can support and foster post-traumatic growth is by giving a voice to the journey of healing – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Give an Hour Ambassador, Alan Simmons, has been vocal about his own struggles with PTSD following his time in service. Speaking on his own struggles, he notes:
“I want Veterans to know that your trauma is always going to be with you; the PTSD, the anxiety is always going to be present, BUT if you own up to it, persist, and take back power over it, you can overcome it.”
His words emphasize that for some, the process of healing can be lifelong. Allen channels his experience through Give an Hour and by being vulnerable and authentic, he helps others who are still stuck in the darkness, find the light.
Become a Give an Hour Wellness Ambassador
One of the ways Give an Hour invites you to grow your resilience is by becoming a Wellness Ambassador. We invite you to become a part of this transformational journey and take the opportunity to volunteer within your own communities to promote self-care, healing, and collaboration. Use your lived experience to promote resilience and foster post-traumatic growth within your community. Sign up to become a wellness ambassador by visiting: https://giveanhour.org/wellnessambassador/
A Final Note on Post-Traumatic Growth
Post-traumatic growth is a testament to the human spirit’s resilience and the power of support, compassion, and understanding. It is a reminder that while we cannot control the events that happen to us, we can control how we respond to them, and in doing so, we can transform our trauma into a catalyst for growth. For resources on how to cope following a traumatic event, visit https://giveanhour.org/resources/