Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches and Lectures


Counter-Growth: How Working with Trauma Survivors can Foster Therapists’ Personal Development

Event Location / Date(s)

Chicago, IL

Document Type


Presentation Date


Conference Name / Publication Title

Annual Conference of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation


In the early days of trauma studies it was believed that a traumatic stressor “would evoke significant symptoms of distress in almost anyone” (DSM-III, ApA, 1980). Research soon revealed, however, that the majority of people exposed to a particular type of traumatic event would not go on to develop PTSD. Eventually, a body of investigation emerged suggesting the traumatic events could lead to growth as well as impairment. Analogously, it has long been assumed that working with trauma survivors almost inevitably entailed the risk of secondary traumatization among therapists. In this workshop three therapists at various stages in their careers will discuss how working with trauma survivors has contributed to their own development, illustrating their experiences with personal vignettes. It is argued that just as client transference can elicit therapist counter-transference, client traumatization and resiliency can promote therapist counter-growth.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Distinguish posttraumatic growth from posttraumatic resiliency.
  • Describe counter-growth as a phenomenon manifested by trauma therapists
  • Identify two approaches of psychotherapeutic practice with complex trauma clients that foster personal development in therapists.


Professor Gold was the primary presenter at this session.