The Power of the Post Traumatic Growth Research Lab

Sep 4, 2020

Sometimes, one person can make all the difference in someone else’s life.

Shelby Jane Seyburn was so inspired by Dr. Kanako Taku’s work in the Post Traumatic Growth Lab at Oakland University that she was determined to advance the work even further.

Her parents, Alisa and Marc Seyburn, said Shelby was honored to be a part of the team and to be able to attend psychology conferences as a result. For that reason, they are focused on ensuring that Shelby’s mission is accomplished through the Shelby Jane Seyburn Foundation.

History of the Post Traumatic Growth Lab at Oakland University

Dr. Taku, who was then an associate professor in the Psychology Department, 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.

Through collaboration within Oakland County, throughout the United States, and with other countries, the PTG Lab has contributed cross-cultural research on PTG. The lab distributes results of such studies at national and international conferences and in professional journals.

Based in Rochester, Michigan, the Post Traumatic Growth Lab also advances graduate and undergraduate students’ research skills through active involvement in the research process.

Shelby’s Work with the Lab

Shelby, who graduated from OU in April 2017 with a degree in psychology, had been on the research lab team at the university beginning in the fall of 2015.

Shelby was determined to use her skills in statistics to prove Post Traumatic Growth theories with a focus on resiliency.

She was asked to be the lab manager during her senior year, and she led a team of students researching this topic. There had been 60 applicants for this one position, and the lab typically only accepted graduate students for this role. Shelby’s drive and her knack for statistics set her apart from the rest, however, and she was brought onto a team that included graduates and doctoral students.

Through the Post Traumatic Growth lab, she had the opportunity to attend psychological conferences and became a published author.

Keeping Her Dreams Alive

Her parents said the experience of going to these conferences and presenting research was a boost for Shelby, who gained confidence from interacting with people on this level. Her parents appreciate that she was able to have this experience, and that’s why they want to allow other students to have the same opportunities.

“The first thing we did with our foundation was to create a grant program so that others in the Psychology Department could go to conferences as well,” Alisa said.

Shelby was especially passionate about Post Traumatic Growth because she suffered from anxiety at an early age. It was a very difficult obstacle, but she learned to grow and take the positive from it.

Today, her parents have found strength from their daughter’s tenacity, and they are growing from their grief in their own ways.

Among other avenues, one comes in the form of the Shelby Jane Seyburn Foundation, which will carry on Shelby’s dreams of helping others find strength through the trauma.