Title

Creating Educational Environments that Nurture Post-Traumatic Growth in Students Overcoming Trauma

First Presenter's Institution

Mercer University

Second Presenter's Institution

N/A

Third Presenter's Institution

N/A

Fourth Presenter's Institution

N/A

Fifth Presenter's Institution

N/A

Location

Sloane

Strand #1

Mental & Physical Health

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

Trauma and ongoing distress, such as substance abuse of close family members, or physical, emotional and sexual abuse have devastating effects on student success. While this topic is relevant for students in both urban and rural settings, the challenges presented are largely reflective of those faced in urban environments.

Brief Program Description

The purpose of this session is to introduce the concept of post-traumatic growth, as well as to offer research-driven strategies designed to support, advocate for, and empower students who are managing traumatic or distressed home and family environments. Results are focused on how educators and health professionals can implement strategies and impart coping skills that nurture post-traumatic growth, helping students better integrate into the educational environment and advance to college while managing current or past traumatic experiences.

Summary

This program will address an area of student success that is not often addressed when we discuss persistence and support of our youth. We often talk about college preparation, support, socioeconomics, and race. While these factors certainly have impacts on student persistence, the element of trauma is one that impacts students across race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and levels of college preparation. Educators are often not prepared to address the needs of or even identify the signs of students who are battling varying levels of post-traumatic stress. When all standard practices of persistence are in place, this is one area that often slips through the cracks, as trauma does not have a universally, distinguishable face.

Evidence

When we experience our most difficult trials or our most debilitating, heart-breaking losses and still find the strength to not only bounce back from those situations, but to grow even stronger as a result, we experience a phenomenon called post-traumatic growth. This how we eventually learn to thrive and overcome challenges, even in the midst of most dire of situations. Post-traumatic growth is described as positive psychological change experienced as a result of the struggle with major life crisis or a traumatic event.

The result is post-traumatic growth five-fold: growth in our connection to others, the phenomenon of seeing new possibilities for our lives, enhanced personal strength, a greater sense of spirituality and purpose, and greater appreciation for life. Individuals who experience growth to this extent find that they are much more capable than they thought of overcoming the very trials that once debilitated them (Cann, et. al, 2010).

Trauma and ongoing distress can have a devastating effect on student success. Students from a variety of backgrounds come to college and find refuge from traumatic and distressful situations including, the alcohol abuse of family members, physical, emotional and sexual abuse, violence in their neighborhoods, and a lack basic resources such as healthy food and water. As a means of educating and preparing educators to work with students who face traumatic or distressed home lives, intervention models and theories will be introduced and translated into coaching strategies that can be employed by higher education professionals to help students better integrate into their educational environments while managing their lives at home. These models include: Post-traumatic growth (Calhoun & Tedeschi), self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci), and the conceptualization of hope (Snyder, et. al, 1991).

Snyder, Harris, and colleagues (1991), conceptualized that the development and maintenance of hope involves two essential components: agency and pathways. Agency - the internal component - is the idea that one has the ability to navigate his or her own path to the accomplishment of a goal. Pathways - the external component - refers to the available resources and forms of support needed to implement goal-oriented strategies. Agency and pathways are two very different concepts, and although a sense of hope can exist through agency alone, both must work together for an optimal disposition of hope (Irving, Telfer & Blake, 1997).

The benefits of hope after trauma was well articulated by Snyder, et. al (1991) in the following statement:

“...high hope persons reported a greater number of life goals, perceived themselves as having more control over their goals, and generated a greater number of strategies for attaining goals. In addition, high hope persons were found to focus on success rather than failure while pursuing goals, and to rely on adaptive coping strategies in pursuing goals, even in the face of obstacles.”

A self-determined disposition, according to Ryan and Deci (2001), is possible when individuals possess three particular psychological needs, including a sense of competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Families and support systems make it possible for loved ones to develop each of the three psychological needs necessary to foster self-determination by: expressing love, validating strengths, encouraging personal development, encouraging socialization, and maintaining high, but realistic expectations. As the findings of Peters’ study suggest (2012), nurturing the psychological needs that cultivate self-determination are a precursor to enacting personal improvement. This foundational support of the family is crucial, as it brings to life the self-determined disposition needed to achieve success.

As was noted in the previous section, hope and self-determination are precursors to achieving one’s life goals and also serve to reduce symptomatology of PTSD. Thus, instilling a strategy for support is an essential element of nurturing post-traumatic growth. Strategies for implementing support include ways to express love, strength validation, encouragement of personal development, encouragement of socialization, and maintenance of high expectations.

Cann, A., Calhoun, L. G., Tedeschi, R. G., Taku, K., Vishnevsky, T., Triplett, K. N., & Danhauer, S. C. (2010). A short form of the posttraumatic growth inventory. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 23(2), 127-137.

Peters, P.A. (2012). Inspired to be the first: How African American students make it to college. In Pitre, A. & Hicks, T. (Eds.), Research studies in higher education: Educating multicultural students (chapter 2). Maryland: University Press of America.

Lobo Prabhu, S., Molinari, V., Bowers, T., Lomax, J. (2010). Role of the family in suicide prevention: An attachment and family systems perspective. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic; 74(4), 301-327.

Ryan, M., & Deci, E. (2000). Self-Determination Theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist , 55 (1), 68-78.

Snyder, C R., Harris, C, Anderson, J. R., Holleran, S., Irving, L. M., Gibb, J., Yoshinobu, L., Langelle, C, & Harney, P. (1991). The will and the ways: Development and validation of an individual differences measure of hope. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 570-585.

Vogt, D., Smith, B., Martin, J., Drainoni, M., Elway, R., Schultz, M., Eisen, S. (2011). Predeployment, deployment and postdeployment risk factors for posttramautic stress symptomatology in female and male OEF/OIF veterans. Journal of Abnormal Psychology; 120:4 (819-831).

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Pamela Larde is an associate professor of resarch and education at Mercer University's Tift College of Education, where she teaches higher educaiton and qualitiative research courses. She holds a Ph.D. in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service. Additionaly, Dr. Larde has received training in suicide prevention, motivational interviewing, professional coaching, and substance abuse counseling. Her research focuses on interpersonal relationships, self-motivation, inspiration, resilience, and post-traumatic growth. She has presented her work at national conferences and has published three books, as well as three book chapters as an invited contributor. The bulk of Dr. Larde's career has been spent in higher education and student affairs, where she has sixteen years of professional experience.

Keyword Descriptors

post-traumatic growth, trauma, PTSD

Presentation Year

2018

Start Date

3-5-2018 3:00 PM

End Date

3-5-2018 4:15 PM

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Mar 5th, 3:00 PM Mar 5th, 4:15 PM

Creating Educational Environments that Nurture Post-Traumatic Growth in Students Overcoming Trauma

Sloane

The purpose of this session is to introduce the concept of post-traumatic growth, as well as to offer research-driven strategies designed to support, advocate for, and empower students who are managing traumatic or distressed home and family environments. Results are focused on how educators and health professionals can implement strategies and impart coping skills that nurture post-traumatic growth, helping students better integrate into the educational environment and advance to college while managing current or past traumatic experiences.