27 June 2023

Beyond Brave: Posttraumatic Growth with Jane Shakespeare-Finch

Jane Shakespeare-Finch, PhD, is Professor in the School of Psychology and Counselling at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Jane’s primary area of teaching is trauma, and her primary area of research is in posttraumatic growth (PTG).  Starting her research with emergency service personnel more than 25 years ago, Jane continues to work with emergency services in the promotion of positive post-trauma outcomes. 

PTG is the positive psychological change experienced as a result of struggling with highly challenging, highly stressful life circumstances. 

“We realised that it was not trauma that affected first responder families; it was the way we dealt with trauma that was the issue. PTG scores are significantly related to anxiety, stress, trauma severity but most strongly to giving (receiving) social support.” 

Following the use of the Boulder Crest Foundation’s Warrior Pathh Program, Jane saw significant improvement among participants: “After 18 months there was a 57% reduction for PTSD.” 

What are the key ingredients someone should have to empower them to recover from trauma? 

“These strategies and resources of coping can be taught, so organisations have a responsibility to have psychoeducation courses available to first responders. They need to be available from the onset and for family members which is why Fortem is important. Where there is a foreseeable risk of trauma, there needs to be training for those who supervise first responders as well.” 

How common is PTG?  

“PTSD is more researched, but resilience is the default for a human being. PTG is far more common than PTSD or Depression or Anxiety.” 

What are some of the pressing questions that remain unanswered and where should research go? 

“We need to foster PTG cross-culturally. What may work for first nations people may not work for another culture. We need to understand and unpack this. I think more work in terms of epigenetics to really get the message out that we can promote mental health.” 

Click here to view the session.