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date: 18 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

The purpose of this chapter is to review research on the prevalence of traumatic life events, risk factors for exposure to traumatic events, the psychological effects of traumatic life events, risk factors for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the effectiveness of interventions for PTSD, and posttraumatic growth. This research suggests that virtually everyone experiences a traumatic event in their lifetime, although some individuals are more at risk for exposure than are others (e.g., members of racial minority groups). Although the vast majority of people exposed to traumatic events do not develop PTSD, several individual (e.g., gender), trauma-related (e.g., event type), and posttrauma (e.g., social support) factors are reliably associated with greater risk. There are several effective psychotherapeutic interventions for PTSD, including exposure therapies and cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBT). Most individuals who have experienced traumatic events report that the event led to positive changes in their lives, although recent evidence suggests that self-reported growth may not be associated with actual positive changes from pre- to posttrauma. Future research directions related to each of these topics are discussed.

Keywords: trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder, posttraumatic growth

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