From the website of the Trauma Resource Institute, TRM is defined as a mind-body approach and focuses on the biological basis of trauma and the automatic, defensive ways that the human body responds when faced with perceived threats to self and others, including the responses of “tend and befriend”, fight, flight and freeze. TRM explores the concept of resiliency and how to restore balance to the body and the mind after traumatic experiences. When the focus is on normal biological responses to extraordinary events, there is a paradigm shift from symptoms being described as biological rather than as pathological or as mental weakness. As traumatic stress symptoms are normalized, feelings of shame and self-blame are reduced or eliminated. Symptoms are viewed as the body’s attempt to re-establish balance to the nervous system.
TRM has been designed as both a trauma reprocessing treatment model as well as a self-care model. The nervous system is re-set or rebalanced through a skills-based approach that can be learned and practiced independently. The skills help develop a sense of personal mastery and self-management over intense physical and emotional states. Survivors often report a renewed sense of hope as the activities of daily living become easier to manage as skills are incorporated into life as a wellness practice.
Traditional talk therapy primarily focuses on changing limiting beliefs leading to insight and problem solving strategies. These interventions can be helpful, however, the part of the brain responding to traumatic experience may not benefit fully from cognitive-based interventions. Thus there is a need for a sensory-based stabilization model that focuses on sensations associated with internal resiliency. The TRM skills can be a stand-alone intervention but they can also be integrated into other treatment modalities.
TRM skills have been used internationally in projects in Guatemala, China, Rwanda, Kenya, Haiti and Japan. TRM has been used domestically within the United States in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, in the Department of Behavioral Health of San Bernardino County following the firestorms in Southern California.
Organizations that have co-sponsored TRM trainings include the World Health Organization, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Bethesda Naval Center PTSD Unit, VA Los Angeles, Department of Veterans Affairs, San Bernardino County, California, Department of Behavioral Health, San Bernardino County, Sierra Tucson Treatment Center, Stanford University, Smith College, Southern California Counseling Center, Multicultural Counseling and Consulting Center and Canyon Rehab.
TRM has been reviewed by the US Congress as a Best Practice Intervention, and the Department of Defense named TRM a promising practice in a white paper to congress that was published in March of 2011.
TRM can be used to treat any person who has experienced or witnessed any event that was perceived as life threatening or posed a serious injury to themselves or to others. It is helpful for workers in the front lines after traumatic events as it can reduce vicarious traumatic reactions and be used for self-care.