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date: 16 November 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Following adverse life events, many people report positive outcomes, sometimes referred to as benefit finding and growth (or BFG). Some people experience a new appreciation of their own strength and resilience or an increased self-reliance. Others describe strengthened relationships and increased closeness with others, greater compassion or altruism, a heightened sense of the fragility of life, or changes in life philosophies and spirituality. This chapter addresses several unresolved issues in the study of BFG, including whether an individual's ability to find benefits in a stressful or traumatic life event is an important contributor to subsequent quality of life and adjustment; how BFG perceptions develop and are maintained over time; shortcomings of current indicators purporting to measure benefits in the context of adversity; future directions for research in this area; and clinical applications of research in BFG. In this chapter, we take a new look at the BFG literature, revisit concerns identified in the first edition of this Handbook, and raise new concerns regarding how BFG is currently assessed and translated into new treatments. We caution against the rush to create interventions to enhance BFG in light of the potential detrimental effects on victimized individuals created by our societal emphasis on the power of positive thinking.

Keywords: benefit finding, positive life change, posttraumatic growth, stress-related growth, thriving

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