At the Center for Post Traumatic Growth (CPTG) we promote and support the healing of combat veterans, first responders, and their families, from moral injury and trauma.
The field of mental health has only begun to recognize the role of moral injury in the suffering of veterans and others. Yet, despite all of the discussion and recent writings regarding the concept, very few interventions have been developed to address moral injury directly. The current evidence-based treatments have been developed to address the symptoms associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but they fall short in addressing the core issues of moral injury including unresolved loss, guilt and shame. Moral injury often co-occurs with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), but one condition may exist without the other. We look at them as the “same species, but a different animal." For us to assist those with moral injury to heal, we must know what we are treating and use the appropriate interventions or we risk making moral injury worse. We are also convinced integrated couple/family services are also imperative for healing moral injury.
At the Center for Post Traumatic Growth, it is our contention that moral injury is not a disorder. Moral injury develops when highly competent and principled individuals (people of service) are repeatedly exposed to events which violate their deeply held moral values and expectations. It is the most competent, compassionate, and principled people that are most vulnerable to these kinds of wounds, as these very qualities that help them excel, are also what makes them more vulnerable to being morally injured. One of our veterans expressed his internal experience of moral injury this way, ”I feel like I have forfeited my membership card in humanity.” Moral injury creates a sense of alienation from others and the rest of humanity because they believe they have violated the basic convents of human conduct regarding how we treat one another. In short, moral injury stems from broken relationships between people; the severing of human connection through traumatic loss or perceived transgression against others.
Post Traumatic Growth
The concept of Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) was initially defined by Calhoun and Tedeschi (2006). PTG is a construct of positive psychological change that occurs as the result of one’s struggle with highly challenging, stressful, and traumatic events. In the past few years, many other authors and researchers have elaborated on Tedeschi and Calhoun's central idea that trauma can result in positive change (Kilmer et al., 2010; Triplett et al., 2012). The Center for Post Traumatic Growth (CPTG) is founded on the belief that traumatized individuals can thrive in the wake of trauma and that they inform our society in unique and essential ways. They have endured profoundly painful and extraordinary experiences that have deeply changed them as people. They no longer see the world the way others do. Many of them have been fundamentally harmed by being mislabeled, maltreated, and misunderstood by both individuals and institutions. At the CPTG, it is our conviction that these men and women are far from “disordered,” “broken,” or “sick.” We have had the privilege to facilitate and witness their healing process. These resilient, passionate, and courageous men and women have shown us over and over that they are some of the most principled, compassionate, loyal, strong, and honorable people you will ever encounter. It is our mission and our honor to assist these veterans to use their profound experiences to grow and thrive as human beings. We see trauma and moral injury as resulting from broken attachments to oneself, others, and the community. Therefore, our program prioritizes and strives to help veterans heal those broken attachments, allowing reconnection to themselves, to their families, and to their communities.
Executive Director and Founder: Melinda J Keenan, PhD
Family Programs & Education: Laura Williams, MBA, MA, LPC, AMFT
Veteran Advocate & Outreach: Carlos Echevarria, MSW-I