Existential Questions And Post-Traumatic Growth

Upon hearing the stories of sometimes horrific atrocities clients or client families have experienced, you as a social worker may find yourself confronting existential questions such as Why? For example, Why do horrible events happen to good people? Why do people abuse their children?

Trying to make sense of such trauma is not easy, and you may seek answers to these existential questions your whole life. And yet, there are opportunities for growth despite trauma for both clients and social workers. This is known as post-traumatic growth, where a renewed sense purpose or a more profound outlook on life is the by-product.

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In this Discussion, you work to seek meaning from the trauma your clients experience and the subsequent healing you help your clients achieve in your social work practice.

To prepare:

  • Read about trauma-informed social work, and read this article listed in the Learning Resources: Vis, J.-A., & Boynton, H. M. (2008). Spirituality and transcendent meaning making: possibilities for enhancing posttraumatic growth. Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work, 27(1/2): 69–86. http://dx.doi.org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1080/15426430802113814

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  • In 1 sentence, identify an existential question with which you have grappled in relation to a client who has been traumatized.
    • Reflect on your fieldwork, or perhaps identify an existential question that might arise in working with the client in the case study you have selected throughout the course. (Case Study of Jack Levy)
  • In 3 to 4 brief sentences, describe where there is potential for growth for the client as a result of the trauma.
  • In 3 to 4 brief sentences, explain where there is potential for growth for you, the social worker, as a result of listening to the client’s stories and bearing witness to their trauma.
  • Describe any challenges you may experience between the meaning you hold based on your personal beliefs and working within the client’s potentially different belief framework.

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