Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 374–386 | Cite as

Centrality of Traumatic Events: Double Edged Sword or Matter of Valence?

  • Michelle J. N. Teale SapachEmail author
  • Samantha C. Horswill
  • Holly A. Parkerson
  • Gordon J. G. Asmundson
  • R. Nicholas Carleton
Original Article


Event centrality, as measured by the Centrality of Event Scale (CES), refers to the degree to which a salient traumatic memory becomes central to individual identity. The current investigation modified the CES to capture valence (positive vs. negative) of event centrality (i.e., CES-V) and determine whether the valence of event centrality for traumatic events differentially relates to trauma responses (i.e., posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD], posttraumatic growth [PTG]). Trauma-exposed community members (n = 512) completed measures of trauma experiences, PTSD, PTG, and the CES-V. Exploratory factor analysis supported the use of the CES-V. Trauma outcome response profiles were compared between event centrality valence group (i.e., central-positive, not central, central-negative) and factors influencing event centrality valence were explored. Most participants appraised their trauma as central and positive (54.7%), while others appraised their trauma as central and negative (32.8%) or not central (12.5%). Central-positive event centrality ratings were positively related to PTG and inversely related to PTSD, whereas central-negative event centrality ratings were positively related to PTSD and inversely related to PTG. The central-positive group reported the most PTG, and the central-negative group reported the most PTSD. Future research should explore the clinical utility of using event centrality valence to predict trauma responses and track treatment progress.


Event centrality Event centrality valence Posttraumatic stress disorder Posttraumatic growth Post-trauma outcomes 



This work was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research [Grant Numbers 357489, 131150, 131152, 285489].

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Michelle J. N. Teale Sapach, Samantha C. Horswill, Holly A. Parkerson, Gordon J. G. Asmundson and R. Nicholas Carleton declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The current research was reviewed and approved by the University of Regina Research Ethics Board (File # 11S1314). All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Research Involving in Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

10608_2018_9983_MOESM1_ESM.docx (35 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 35 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle J. N. Teale Sapach
    • 1
    Email author
  • Samantha C. Horswill
    • 1
  • Holly A. Parkerson
    • 1
  • Gordon J. G. Asmundson
    • 1
  • R. Nicholas Carleton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ReginaReginaCanada

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