Understanding the Relationship Between Posttraumatic Growth and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Through Social Acknowledgement as a Survivor
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Posttraumatic growth (PTG) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are individual responses to a traumatic event that result in vastly different outcomes. Successful PTG results in growth past the pretrauma state, and PTSD can lead to distressing symptoms which usually require therapeutic intervention to remedy. Literature on posttraumatic growth and PTSD is mixed between identifying either a linear relationship, a curvilinear relationship, or no relationship between them. Discerning the exact relationship between PTG and PTSD could provide insight into how individuals recover from a highly distressing event as well as how the two constructs interact with each other. This study proposed social acknowledgement as a survivor as a means to assess the relationship. PTSD has an established negative relationship with social acknowledgement, however there is very little research on PTG and social acknowledgement. The study will focus on how PTG, PTSD, and social acknowledgement interact, and this will be done through the use of a positive acknowledgement group and a neutral acknowledgement group. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of the two groups and will be instructed to discuss life after trauma. A discussion moderator/experimenter will verbally provide acknowledgement to the disclosed experiences related to trauma. In the positive group, the experimenter will provide statements expressing appreciation of participants’ hardship. In the neutral group, the experimenter will offer no acknowledgement of trauma whatsoever. The groups will meet once a week for four weeks, after which their perceptions of social acknowledgement, PTG, and PTSD symptoms will be assessed. I predicted that high levels of positive acknowledgement will be related to high levels of posttraumatic growth. As shown in the literature, PTSD symptoms are often unaffected by positive acknowledgement, thus I predicted that positive acknowledgement will show no change in PTSD symptoms. Finally, I hypothesized that neutral acknowledgement will result in increased PTSD symptoms.
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