Post-Traumatic Growth in Children and Adolescents
Introduction: Children and adolescents often suffer from adverse or even traumatic events. While clinicians and researchers so far have focused predominantly on their negative consequences more recently it has been postulated that traumatic events may exert positive effects in some individuals. In this context the concept of post-traumatic growth (PTG) has been investigated increasingly in adults. However, so far data in children and adolescents is rare.
Method: We performed a narrative review of the current literature regarding PTG especially in children and adolescents as well as the pertinent literature on the PTG framework in general.
Results: Data indicates that PTG in youth is quite similar to that observed among adults and can be assessed reliably in childhood and adolescents. However, mechanisms underlying the origination of PTG are still not sufficiently understood and further factors influencing its development have to be identified. Furthermore, there seems to be an overlap between PTG and concepts of resilience.
Conclusion: PTG should be considered in the aftermath of trauma and may be useful in therapeutic contexts. There is a considerable dearth of objective measures of PTG causing an intensive debate whether PTG is a real positive identity change or rather a kind of safety mechanism that may be interpreted as a subconscious strategy. Neurobiological data may help to further investigate the “real” character of PTG in the future.