Dayna Sharp, LCSW
Resilience and Post-Traumatic Growth
"Determination, creativity, courage and perseverance to survive are among the most important and poorly recognized resources of many survivors"
--Dr. Odelya Gertel Kraybill
The Trauma-Informed Movement has added a new dimension to therapy, social care organizations, schools and healthcare. It has pushed us to understand trauma and childhood adversity as a public health issue, and I hope provides irrefutable evidence that poverty, community violence, racism and family instability should be a social priority.
However, too often Trauma-Informed dialogue turns into a "thin" story--it can miss the complexity of human experience. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study shows us that childhood stress can lead to "disrupted neurodevelopment", "impaired social/academic/cognitive ability", and even lead to chronic adult health problems. This story of adversity paints a very dire--and I would argue inaccurate--picture for survivors of trauma and childhood adversity.
I think a more layered story would sound more like this. Children who grown up facing serious adversity or survive trauma may be more at risk for experiencing emotional or behavioral issues, but they are always growing and changing, and importantly, creatively seeking out new, restorative experiences. Sometimes, we just have to try to understand them so that we can respond in ways that nurture growth.
Resilience is not a necessarily simply a skill that people either have or don't have. Instead, it's something that's built into everyone of us. Character education is great, but it isn't true that people suffering with anxiety or trauma symptoms somehow don't have resilience. In fact, sometimes those very symptoms that cause us so much pain are also the evidence of the mind and body's drive for survival and overcoming (Read my blog post on Trauma for more info).
At Creating Space Counseling and Wellness, I have witnessed the inherent drive and desire of children, adults and families for overcoming. I'm honored to say that I've sat with incredible determination and overwhelming courage. Almost to the point that it's pretty unbelievable! It's often easy for me to see these qualities in others. And as your therapist, it's my job to support "Post-Traumatic Growth"--to help you to see these remarkable qualities inside of yourself.