George Bonanno, Ph.DGeorge A. Bonanno is a Professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University. His research focuses on how people cope with potentially traumatic events, such as the death of a loved one, terrorist attack, disaster and medical emergency. His studies have documented our natural resilience to these events and explored the factors that help us cope effectively; these include our repertoire of emotional reactions, especially positive emotion and laughter, personality, and the context of our lives. He is author of the Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us About Life After Loss.

Dr Bonanno will be presenting a Keynote on Trauma, Flexibility, and Meaning.

Click here for additional information about Dr. George Bonanno.

Presentation Abstracts:

Workshop: Loss, Trauma, and Human Resilience

George A. Bonanno, Ph.D

We tend to assume that meaning making is essential after potentially traumatic events (PTEs). However, understanding the way we make sense of such events requires that we first understand what PTEs are. In this workshop I will review research studies on natural disaster, loss, combat, traumatic injury and medical emergency. These studies consistently show that not only are PTEs more common than is usually assumed, most people also typically cope much better than is usually assumed. We will consider traditional approaches to PTE and then more recent approaches that have identified the most common responses. These studies show that outcome following PTEs is neither random nor the same for everyone. Rather there are is small set of prototypical patterns or trajectories. The most common trajectory is almost always one of minimal impact and consistent positive adjustment or resilience. I will present video clips of some of the typical responses to PTEs and review some many factors that predict resilient outcomes.

Keynote: Trauma, Flexibility, and Meaning

George A. Bonanno, Ph.D.

Bad things happen. Most of us are confronted with at least one and often several potentially traumatic events (PTEs) during the course of our lives. We tend to assume that meaning making is essential for successful resolution and health adjustment following PTEs. Yet, the research evidence suggests a mixed pattern of results. Sometimes meaning making is associated with healthy adjustment. Sometimes, however, meaning making is unrelated to adjustment and sometimes meaning making is even predictive of a worse outcome. In this talk I will ask three questions: Is meaning making necessary and adaptive? Does meaning making change over time? Is meaning making the same for everyone? The answers to these questions are not perfect but I will consider what we can learn from the available research. I will conclude the talk by introducing the construct of psychological flexibility as a means of integrating and to some extent understanding the seemingly conflicting findings from the literature.