Reshaping traumatic narratives and promoting posttraumatic growth
During their unit-based rounding in early 2020, Girgrah and Sawyer recognized a need for a space where clinicians could debrief their experiences with their peers.
Girgrah and Sawyer knew the research: Promoting posttraumatic growth can result in significant positive psychological changes after challenging life experiences. And with a large-scale stressful event such as the pandemic, how individuals remember the event can impact their development of anxiety or trauma.
As Sawyer put it, "part of PTSD is getting sucked into inaccurate and extreme narratives. For instance, if you tell yourself things like ‘it was all my fault’ or ‘nothing is safe anymore’ or ‘leaders never cared about me’ then personal and organizational growth becomes very difficult.” And by unpacking the experiences, people can have more balanced and accurate thinking in retrospect; they acknowledge the traumatic experience and feel acknowledged by their organizations, consider the organizational realities and multiple perspectives along with their perceptions, and allow themselves to also identify what can be learned now.
According to Girgrah and Sawyer, that dual focus on unpacking traumas and encouraging posttraumatic growth is critical to ensuring that individuals don't remain "stuck" on inaccurate, extreme, and harmful stories. Rather, they're able to discuss their experience, realize there are others who've shared in their pain, feel fully validated, and reflect on what they can do going forward.