An Affective–Cognitive Processing Model of Post-Traumatic Growth


Stephen Joseph, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK.



A topic that has begun to attract interest from clinical psychologists and psychotherapists is post-traumatic growth. First, we provide a general overview of the field, setting out the historical development, main concepts, measurement issues and research findings. Second, we review evidence showing that the relationship between post-traumatic stress and post-traumatic growth is likely curvilinear. Third, a new affective–cognitive processing model of post-traumatic growth will be introduced in which post-traumatic stress is understood to be the engine of post-traumatic growth. Fourth, points of clinical intervention are described showing the ways in which therapists can facilitate post-traumatic growth. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Key Practitioner Message

  • No one approach to the treatment of trauma is able to help all people all of the time.
  • Post-traumatic growth emerges out of satisfactory affective–cognitive processing.
  • A common-factor approach that recognizes that there are many points of therapeutic intervention is described.