Post Traumatic Growth

Dr. Kanako Taku, associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Oakland University, built the Post Traumatic Growth Lab at Oakland University in 2008. The PTG lab aims to further the understanding and knowledge of PTG as well as resiliency by studying these phenomena after highly impactful life events, such as death of a loved one, natural disaster, academic failure, relationship break-up in college students, adults, high school students, middle school students, teen parents, and medical staff.

Through collaboration within the county, community, country, and world including Turkey, Australia, China, and Japan, the PTG Lab has contributed cross-cultural research on PTG. The Lab distributes results of such studies at national/international conferences and in professional journals. The PTG Lab also trains and fosters graduate and undergraduate students’ research skill attainment through active involvement in the research process. A total of 40 students have worked in the Lab for the past 9 years.

Shelby joined in 2015 Fall and became a lab manager in 2016 Fall due to her exceptional talents and motivations.

What is PTG?

The common sayings ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, and ‘when a door closes, a window opens’ are anecdotal descriptions of post traumatic growth (PTG).

PTG has been researched in the literature since the early 1990s. It is defined as the experience of positive changes after the struggle with stressful or traumatic events (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1996).

People who experienced PTG may say that they come to understand others’ pain, are more spiritually connected, and/or better able to appreciate the small things, such as the sight of a dragonfly or a child’s laugh. If you know someone who experiences these changes after stress or trauma, it is likely that they have struggled through an event that has changed their beliefs about world. Although PTG is positive, it does not mean that a person is struggling less than others.

Experiencing a traumatic event or a very difficult situation isn’t enough alone to experience PTG. Research has shown that children and adults who have gone through traumatic events are more likely to experience PTG if they have social support from a family member, a friend, a loved one, a coach, a mentor, or a teacher. The Shelby Jane Seyburn Foundation hopes to help others experience PTG by furthering PTG research and outreach programs.

Learn more about our PTG Programs