Date of Award

Spring 4-4-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

e Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Urban Education: Counseling Psychology


Department of Graduate Studies

First Advisor

Toman, Sarah

Second Advisor

Catherine A. Hansman

Third Advisor

Elizabeth R. Welfel


Most people experience some type of traumatic event in their lives, such as physical or sexual assault, serious medical illnesses, accidents that cause injury, the death of a loved one, and military combat exposure. There is variability in how people respond to trauma. Survivors could benefit from learning more about trauma responses, including the process of healing. In recent times, society has been challenged to examine their perceptions of sexual assault and those who survive these experiences. Much research has been done on the negative impact oftrauma. Further research is necessary to gain a deeper understanding of both the positive and negative responses to trauma, particularly among sexual assault survivors as this population is not well-represented in the current research. Posttraumatic growth (PTG) has been defined by Calhoun and Tedeschi (2006) as a positive transformative experience among people who have been exposed to trauma that may coexist with symptoms of psychological distress. The purpose of this narrative study was to better understand the lived experiences of PTG in adult sexual assault survivors. The current qualitative narrative study used a social constructivist interpretive paradigm to explore PTG among eight sexual assault survivors. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, transcribed, coded, and interpreted. Restorying was used to introduce the participants to the readers and to organize their narratives. Findings indicated that the participants had similar experiences of negative and positive life vi changes and reported experiences of PTG domains, appreciation for life, relating to others, new possibilities in life, personal strength, and spiritual change.