Examples of How To Foster Post-Traumatic Growth with PTGI Worksheets




Published on

December 7, 2023


Updated on

January 18, 2024

Medically Reviewed by

Ben Ahrens, HHP


As “trauma healing” has come into the foreground of many mental health initiatives with such books as “The Body Keeps the Score” and Gabor Mate’s “The Myth of Normal” rising in popularity, there is another, less known concept that describes how we not only survive traumatic events but can actually thrive because of them. The concept of Post Traumatic Growth, or PTG, says that past traumas are not set in stone, insofar as how they will continue to impact us in the future. Rather,  through self-reflection, emotional awareness, and cognitive reappraisal or “reframing,” those who have suffered from a traumatic experience may be able to develop into stronger and more resilient people due to their trauma.

According to the Posttraumatic Growth Research Group at the University of North Carolina, post-traumatic growth (PTG) can be comprehended as positive change stemming from the struggle in dealing with a traumatic event or major life crisis[1]. In this article we will explore some practical tools which can potentially aid in healing from trauma, increasing resiliency and overall well-being and gain a newfound appreciation of life[2]. The following handout worksheets are commonly used in clinical settings for those suffering from PTSD, anxiety, and post-trauma syndrome.

Worksheet 1: Self-Compassion Scale

It is so important to practice being kind and forgiving to yourself and begin to increase your personal strength. This activity is a self-scored worksheet made up of 26 statements that reveal both feelings and actions. All responses are scored on a 5-point scale(1=rarely to 5=always); the sum of the scores signifies the level of compassion we are giving ourselves[3]. Below is the complete list of questions to give you a picture of the worksheet. If you are looking to know your exact score you can click the link here to complete the worksheet online which is self-scoring!

  1. I’m disapproving and judgmental about my own flaws and inadequacies.
  2. When I’m feeling down I tend to obsess and fixate on everything that’s wrong.
  3. When things are going badly for me, I see the difficulties as part of life that everyone goes through.
  4. When I think about my inadequacies, it tends to make me feel more separate and cut off from the rest of the world.
  5. I try to be loving towards myself when I’m feeling emotional pain.
  6. When I fail at something important to me I become consumed by feelings of inadequacy.
  7. When I’m down and out, I remind myself that there are lots of other people in the world feeling like I am.
  8. When times are really difficult, I tend to be tough on myself.
  9. When something upsets me I try to keep my emotions in balance.
  10. When I feel inadequate in some way, I try to remind myself that feelings of inadequacy are shared by most people.
  11. I’m intolerant and impatient towards those aspects of my personality I don’t like.
  12. When I’m going through a very hard time, I give myself the caring and tenderness I need.
  13. When I’m feeling down, I tend to feel like most other people are probably happier than I am.
  14. When something painful happens I try to take a balanced view of the situation.
  15. I try to see my failings as part of the human condition.
  16. When I see aspects of myself that I don’t like, I get down on myself.
  17. When I fail at something important to me I try to keep things in perspective.
  18. When I’m really struggling, I tend to feel like other people must be having an easier time of it.
  19. I’m kind to myself when I’m experiencing suffering.
  20. When something upsets me I get carried away with my feelings.
  21. I can be a bit cold-hearted towards myself when I’m experiencing suffering.
  22. When I’m feeling down I try to approach my feelings with curiosity and openness.
  23. I’m tolerant of my own flaws and inadequacies.
  24. When something painful happens I tend to blow the incident out of proportion.
  25. When I fail at something that’s important to me, I tend to feel alone in my failure.
  26. I try to be understanding and patient towards those aspects of my personality I don’t like.

Worksheet 2: Radical Acceptance Worksheet

Post-traumatic growth starts with accepting your current situation and going forward without attempting to revise it. While it might appear to be a challenge, acceptance is the primary launching point for personal growth and better mental health.

Using the radical acceptance or distress tolerance activity worksheet, you are able to pinpoint areas of complete self-acceptance and dedicate time to valuing yourself after experiencing any struggles or disappointments that life throws our way. The worksheet is made up of open-ended questions, and the responses to each indicate where we lie in terms of self-acceptance[4]. Below is the complete list of questions for you to get started! The goal of this worksheet is to identify, consider, and understand situations or emotions you are struggling to accept and gain a better understanding of your mental health as you begin your journey of post-traumatic growth.

  1. What is the problem or situation that you find problematic or painful?

What happened prior to the situation that arose? How did it occur? How did it unfold? Who was there? What emotions did you experience during this situation?

  1. What role did your behavior play in this situation? How about others’ behavior?
  2. Describe your actions and behaviors during this experience and consider how your actions influenced what occurred. Remember, you cannot control how others will act.
  3. How did other people’s behavior influence the situation? How did their actions contribute to what happened?
  4. What were you able to control during this situation? What were you unable to control?
  5. Consider and describe your reactions to the situation.

How did you react, act, or behave to what occurred? What effects did your reactions have on you emotionally? Remember that a response is considered, deliberate behavior. A reaction, in contrast, is when you allow emotions to guide your behavior.

  1. What was the impact of your reaction on others around you?

Describe how they acted or behaved when you reacted the way you did.

  1. How might you behave next time so that you can minimize your reactive response?

How could you respond, instead of reacting, to reduce your own emotional distress?

No matter who you are, the aftermath of trauma can redefine how you live your life. The set of beliefs, worldviews, and assumptions that ground us can become broken and uncontrollable after being confronted with trauma. This earthquake-like event which can shatter our perceptions allows us the opportunity to reconstruct ourselves and our mindset. When the foundation of self is shaken, new growth can flourish[5].

Of course, if you are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, poor mental health, intense flashbacks, or negative coping strategies it is important to speak with a clinician who can provide you with additional handout worksheets, a workbook, or treatments such as psychotherapy. Post-traumatic growth may seem like a daunting task but clinical psychology, positive coping skills, and personal strength offers new possibilities towards positive change[6].
In addition to this, re-origin offers a comprehensive and science-based brain retraining program aimed at helping people overcome traumatic illnesses and events through self-directed neuroplasticity or “brain rewiring” therapy.  Unlike self-help, brain retraining is one approach to trauma recovery that is actually aimed at undoing its underlying cause which is the continued firing of obsolete neuropathways that formed during a time of great stress. The Trauma worksheet above can help you get started by gaining a better understanding of where you presently are in your journey. And when you are ready to recondition the old pathways, regain full self-esteem, reduce symptoms of PTSD, and return to who you really are – re-origin is here for you.

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  1. Posttraumatic Growth Research Group. (2014). What is PTG? UNC Charlotte Department of Psychology. Retrieved from https://ptgi.uncc.edu/what-is-ptg/
  2. Tedeschi, R.G., & Calhoun, L.G. (1996). The Posttraumatic Growth Inventory: Measuring the positive legacy of trauma. , Journal of Traumatic Stress, 9, 455- 471. doi: 10.1002/jts.2490090305
  3. Take the Self-Compassion Test. (2021, October 26). Self-Compassion. Retrieved September 20, 2022, from https://self-compassion.org/self-compassion-test/
  4. Radical-Acceptance-Worksheet. (2017). https://positivepsychology.com/. Retrieved September 20, 2022, from https://positive.b-cdn.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Radical-Acceptance-Worksheet.pdf
  5. Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (2004). ” Posttraumatic growth: conceptual foundations and empirical evidence”. Psychological inquiry, 15(1), 1-18.
  6. Collier, L. (2016, November 1). Growth after trauma. Monitor on Psychology, 47(10). https://www.apa.org/monitor/2016/11/growth-trauma