Jeff Jernigan, PhD, BCPPC, FAIS

Stress and trauma injuries last a lifetime. They may diminish in impact over time, but you never heal totally from a stress or trauma injury. Wrong! Though some complexities of stress and trauma may take longer to recover from, healing is not only probable but possible in light of the advent of post-traumatic growth understanding. Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG) is a theory that explains the need for ongoing transformation post-treatment for stress and trauma-related conditions. There is healing that takes place during and after stress or trauma injury as a natural response of our body and mind in building resilience and moving us toward recovery. There is also continuing transformation as we implement a self-care plan.  

Recovering from physical or moral injury is not a one-and-done event. It is a process of adding and extending benefits as we grow in understanding how our mind and body respond to stress and what we can do about it to amplify healing. This is true for childhood and adolescent stress and trauma, as well as adult and senior trauma. There may be medical and mental wellness challenges to overcome. Adapting nutrition, exercise, and sleep habits may be necessary. Medication may be helpful at some point. There are tools available that have been demonstrated to lessen fear and anxiety associated with stress and trauma. These realities have changed my life as a disabled combat Veteran diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The emotional pain is gone. All that remains are learned behaviors our children think are funny. This issue of Contentment Magazine explores these and other related remedies, offering a path forward to healing, health, and hope. Following are the introductions to the authors and their articles. 

Nancy Jernigan, PhD, LPC, FAIS, is an internationally recognized leader and educator known for leadership development and developing healthy teams amid growth and change. She is the President and co-founder of Hidden Value Group, LLC, and serves as a Board Member and Finance Director for Olive Branch International, Inc. Together, the two organizations provide healthcare, education, leadership development, and family support in risk and conflict zones on three continents. Nancy gets personally involved internationally in teaching and training as a mental wellness expert, treating trauma and stress disorders. As an executive coach, leadership expert, and educator, she is passionate about developing and multiplying leaders. Nancy is also the co-author of Thin Spaces: Recognizing When God Breaks Through, which just released.  

In her feature article, Post-Traumatic Growth: Finding Hope in Adversity, Nancy introduces the concept of Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG) and, in broad brush strokes, lays out what this is, how it works, and the hope it provides those who think there is no remedy for the stress, anxiety, and trauma injury they have experienced. Experiencing a traumatic event can transform someone’s life and facilitate growth. PTG rests on the theory that healing comes through adversity and gives hope and renewed strength. This strength can often be more significant than before the event or experience. Nancy recommends a five-step self-care plan as a tool for sustaining and building resilience, enabling quicker recovery from stress and trauma injury. 

Josh Briley, PhD, BCMAS, FAIS, is a clinical psychologist providing mental health evaluations and treatment, helping people to overcome difficulties and live more productive, fulfilling lives. He is a board-certified Medical Affairs Specialist and certified Clinical Trauma Professional. Josh served as Clinical Education Director at Electromedical Products International, Inc. His experience spans private practice and working with prison inmates, Veterans, healthcare practitioners, and clinical support personnel.  

Josh’s article, Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation: Smoothing the Path to Post-Traumatic Growth, offers hope for those struggling with recovery from stress and trauma injuries. What it means to “get better” is described practically as getting unstuck from mistaken beliefs and embracing a change in perspective that offers freedom from preconceived notions. The biology and psychology of PTG are explained, leading to an understanding of the neurological changes experienced as symptoms of post-traumatic stress. What we think and feel is demystified to the point what to do about it becomes clear. Traditional means of managing post-traumatic stress are reviewed, and a modern approach to treatment is introduced: cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES). This therapy is FDA approved for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia and pain, as well as depression in Europe and most of the rest of the world. It is a very effective means of facilitating the progression from post-traumatic stress to post-traumatic growth.  

Richard Citrin, PhD, MBA, is a leadership and organizational psychologist whose career includes clinician, business entrepreneur, health care executive, and now a consultant helping organizations improve the performance of their employees and the success of their businesses. His 2016 book, The Resilience Advantage, co-authored with Alan Weiss, discussed ways organizations create a culture that moves away from the blaming mentality of stress management to an empowering mindset of resilience. Richard’s most recent book, Strategy Driven Leadership (2020), written with Michael Couch, provides an action playbook for how organizations can develop leaders focused on driving their business strategy so that their leadership grows the business and their professional skills. 

Richard’s article, Resilience in Grief: A Journey of Post-Traumatic Growth, moves the reader into his lived experience with post-traumatic growth. Facing the loss of two adult children within five years, he details the complexities of grief and how he and his partner drew strength from each other, their work, and their community. Taking different paths, they created new ideas to share with their clients and the broader community, transforming the tragedy into new learnings for themselves and others. This is a poignant, transparent, true story about loss, grief, and a search for answers. Their journey illustrates creative ways post-traumatic growth can be sustained, creating new resilience along the way.  

Don Middleton, DO, is a board-certified Family Practice and Addiction Medicine physician at internationally renowned Meadows Behavioral Health in Arizona and director of The Dunamis Initiative, a Christian 12-step program encouraging churches to become more involved in an addiction recovery team effort. He is enjoying long-term sobriety, and that, along with his medical experience and deep faith, have uniquely qualified him to educate, equip, and encourage churches to address addiction as a significant cultural problem. His passion is to care for, disciple, and mobilize those most affected by addiction. Don is the author of The Dunamis Effect, taking the decades-old 12-step Program and bringing it up to date with advances in addiction medicine.  More information is available at  

Don’s article, Resilience in Grief: A Journey of Post-Traumatic Growth, begins with his introduction of John sitting next to him in a 12-step program meeting. Only John was not his real name. Don has the privilege of becoming John’s sponsor and becomes part of John’s journey to sobriety. Don lays out how post-traumatic growth applies to failure in life and the consequences of addiction. Disease, including addiction, brings loss, anxiety, stress, and trauma into life in ways that require a process of recovery. Don describes recovery as a process and not a final destination. John becomes Lawrence, his true self, and moves into a new life of possibilities. 

Frank Forencich, PhD, DAIS, is a health, wellness, and fitness consultant and contractor. He is co-creator of an innovative training method, GoAnimal,® and a writer and speaker on health, stress, functional fitness, and human predicament. Frank has traveled to Africa several times to study human evolution in ancestral environments.  

Frank’s article, The Experiential Path to Post-Traumatic Growth, takes us out of the specific personal details of PTG to the bigger picture of socialization and enculturation as human beings. His thoughtful piece reminds us of the wealth of knowledge we already possess about how the body processes stress and trauma, the wide range of bio-medical remedies available to us, and the anthropological need humans have to experientially determine through lived experience that the world is a friendly, manageable space. Frank unpacks the social physiology of this process, taking us back to the basics of managing our stress.  

As editor for Contentment Magazine, I have enjoyed interacting with these authors while preparing this issue for publishing. Each unique perspective on post-traumatic growth brings other universal health and wellness concepts. This helps us understand that PTG is not a “thing” but many things working together to extend and amplify recovery from post-traumatic stress. 

We have gone from the big picture to the details and back again, from overarching concepts to personal experiences and from children to adults experiencing stress and trauma. The last article, Delayed Onset Post-Traumatic Stress, features a 91-year-old man experiencing post-traumatic stress, having never experienced or recognized any symptoms for nearly eighty years. No matter the age, now is the best time to focus on post-traumatic stress recovery.  

Thank you to our authors for writing and our subscribers for reading! May health, healing, and hope be your experience passed on to others.  

Jeff Jernigan, PhD, LPC, BCPC, FAIS 

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