Posttraumatic growth (PTG) describes the experience of positive changes following one’s struggle with trauma. Calhoun and Tedeschi (1999) recommended counseling strategies for how therapists may facilitate the process of PTG within psychotherapy with clients. Because the efficacy of these strategies had not yet been assessed empirically, this study sought to qualitatively explore their use by trainee therapists, an unstudied population in the PTG literature. A total of 9 videotaped psychotherapy sessions conducted with 5 clients at 2 community counseling centers were selected for analysis. Directed content analysis using a coding system developed for this study was employed to analyze therapist responses to clients’ discussions of trauma. Results indicated that the therapists in this study most commonly used responses consistent with Calhoun and Tedeschi’s (1999) Recommendation #1 Focus on Listening Without Trying to Solve. Specifically, the most frequently used responses were minimal encouraging (M = 86.9, SD = 69.7), followed by closed-ended questions about factual information (M = 20.8, SD = 16.1) and reflecting factual information (M = 20.6, SD = 15.7) in both early and later sessions. Overall, therapists responded to descriptions of the clients’ traumatic events and evaluative content such as thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes about the traumatic event, more so than affective content such as one’s feelings and emotions. Across participants, Recommendations #2, #3 and #4 were rarely used to promote growthful experiences among individuals suffering from trauma and adversity, and missed opportunities for growth were also identified by the researcher. As a result, this study offers additional recommendations to include in Calhoun and Tedeschi’s (1999) counseling strategies for facilitating PTG, and speaks to the need for graduate clinical psychology programs to train students in facilitating client strengths and PTG following trauma.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Posttraumatic growth -- Case studies; Psychotherapy -- Outcome assessment; Psychotherapist and patient; Psychotherapists -- Training of

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Hall, Susan;