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Counseling as a Predictor of Posttraumatic Growth among the Garissa University Terrorist Attack Survivors 

Asatsa Stephen, Ph.D. Candidate in Counseling Psychology., Sr. Sabina Mutisya, Ph.D., Catholic University of Eastern Africa; and Bethwell Owuor, Ph.D., Kisii University

Abstract

The study investigated the predictive relationship between counseling and posttraumatic growth among Garissa University terrorist attack survivors. The study was anchored on the organismic valuing theory after adversity, and it adopted the explanatory sequential mixed method research design. The study took a two-phase model starting with quantitative data collection and analysis followed by qualitative data collection and analysis. A total sample of 210 participants was selected using simple random sampling and extreme case sampling techniques. Quantitative data were collected using a standardized questionnaire; the 21-item Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI). Qualitative data were collected using interview guides. Quantitative data were analyzed using univariate analysis multiple regression analysis. Qualitative data were analyzed using themes and narratives from participants. The study found positive significant relationship between the number of counseling sessions attended and posttraumatic growth among the survivors of Garissa University terrorist attack. The study further found that participants who attended between 5 and 10 counseling sessions after the attack reported the highest posttraumatic growth while those who attended critical incident debriefing only reported the lowest growth. The participants who did not attend any form of counseling reported higher posttraumatic growth compared to those who attended critical incident debriefing only. These findings may be relevant in designing future interventions for trauma survivors that are growth focused as complementary approaches to the existing crisis-focused counseling. The findings further raised curiosity on the effectiveness of critical incident debriefing as a trauma intervention strategy which warrants further research on the construct.

Keywords: posttraumatic growth, critical incident debriefing, counseling, trauma, terrorism, posttraumatic stress disorder.

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