Psychology, Professional

Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Consuelo E. Cavalieri, Salina Renninger


There is a high rate of comorbidity between individuals with cumulative trauma (also referred to as complex trauma) and addiction. In addition, SAMSHA (2014) highlighted that individuals with cumulative trauma and addiction are the hardest population to treat for substance abuse disorders (SAMSHA, 2014). Research examining trauma, addiction and their comorbidity has focused on the mechanisms (e.g. neurobiology, attachment, etc.) leading to maladaptive personality traits, and effectiveness of outside resources in supporting healing. Post traumatic growth literature has highlighted that certain personality traits or characteristics may be important in facilitating growth as it pertains to trauma survivors. Due to complexity of comorbid trauma and addiction, it is important that we learn from those who have been successful along the path to healing. From a post-traumatic growth perspective, this study is a first step in understanding how certain individuals can heal. This study included five male survivors of cumulative trauma and addiction who were receiving treatment services at a community mental health clinic. Using grounded theory, I analyzed common categories and themes that participants identified as aiding in healing. The categories that were identified to possibly impact healing include: psychological mindedness; intelligence and creativity; compassion; openness and willingness; compartmentalization. These results can help to lay the groundwork for future research into what individuals identify as healing and how can this be used to inform treatment efficacy.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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