Dr Rebekah Smith
Clinical Psychologist, Older Persons Mental Health, Canterbury DHB, Christchurch, NZ
Dr Rebekah Smith is interested in positive psychology and the application of this to clinical practice, to help individuals build resilience and thrive. She completed her PhD at the University of Canterbury, examining the expression of posttraumatic growth in resilient Cantabrians after the earthquake sequence of 2010 and 2011. She works as a Clinical Psychologist at Older Persons Mental Health, Christchurch.
How Can We Support the Process of Posttraumatic Growth for Children Experiencing Chronic Pain?
Posttraumatic growth refers to the positive psychological changes that can occur as a result of the struggle with adversity, such as feeling stronger, improvement in relationships, and a sense of new possibilities. Posttraumatic growth is distinct from resilience in that it infers an improvement in some areas of functioning after trauma, but can also co-exist with acknowledged difficulties such as anxiety or PTSD symptoms. Posttraumatic growth has been explored after various traumas in adult populations over the last 3 decades, and has more recently been explored with children. Factors involved in the process of posttraumatic growth in adults include trying to find meaning in one’s experiences, the ability to reflect deliberately on positive and negative outcomes of one’s experience, the availability of social support, gender, the level of distress experienced, active coping strategies, and religiosity. Dr Smith examines the research on posttraumatic growth in children, and how we might apply this as clinicians to support children and their families with chronic pain.