Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling & Counseling Psychology

Committee Chair

Jennifer Taylor

Committee Co-Chair

James Bartee

Committee Member

Jeffrey Daniels

Committee Member

Christa Lilly

Committee Member

Christine Schimmel


Specific ways in which an individual makes meaning following a stressful life event have been conceptualized as contributing to the emergence of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, little is known about how meaning making impacts the trauma trajectory and how that transition affects the outcomes of PTSD, Posttraumatic Growth (PTG), or resiliency. In this study, 166 combat veterans nationwide completed self-report surveys that were analyzed using a multivariate Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) method to create a model of how PTSD, PTG, and resiliency are impacted based upon meaning making. The results suggest that following a stressful life event, individuals who maintain intact world beliefs are more likely to be resilient. Individuals who experience a shattering of their world beliefs are hypothesized to report symptoms of PTSD. Likewise, individuals who experience a shattering of world beliefs and engage in avoidance coping are more likely to experience PTSD. However, individuals who experience a shattering of world beliefs but then make meaning from their experience are more likely to report an experience of PTG. Limitations and future directions of this research are also discussed in relation to the field's movement toward outlining factors that positively impact PTG following deployment.