The Trauma Resiliency Model (TRM) is based on teaching people a basic set of self-stabilization skills that help reregulate the nervous system in the wake of upsetting and traumatic experiences. Below are the five biologically based TRM skills that we teach within this model.
Skill 1: Tracking is achieved through observation, self-report by the client, and attunement between the practitioner and client. As the nervous system is tracked, the client learns to discriminate between dysregulated states within the body (constricted muscles, rapid breathing, heart rate), and sensations of comfort (expanded breathing, slower heart rate, muscle relaxation). Tracking is used with all skills.
Skill 2: Grounding refers to our sense of the present time and space, and is the secure foundation upon which we build our interpersonal relationships. It’s introduced by inviting the client to bring awareness to how the body is physically supported at the moment. The sensory attention to the present stimulates in the nervous system a parasympathetic response that the practitioner can observe and the client can sense.
Skill 3: Resourcing is a technique for focusing awareness on positive experiences—highly valued relationships, fond memories, imagined events—that trigger a sense of well-being. For example, a person might be asked to think about a beloved family member, and then be instructed to attach the somatic sensations that arise to the inner image. Those positive sensations can then become resources for counterbalancing negative sensations and reregulating the nervous system.
Skill 4: Resource Intensification refers to the process of helping people enhance the multisensory sensations that arise from paying attention to personal resources. This helps override the stress and anxiety—tied to the amygdala’s strong survival focus—that are typically present in traumatized people.
Skill 5: Shift and Stay is a self-help skill. The client learns to shift attention from distressing sensations that may arise or be triggered during the day to more comforting sensations associated with Grounding and Resourcing, and then stay attuned to the comforting sensations until regulation occurs.
Laurie Leitch, PhD, is cofound and codirector of development and evaluation for the Resource Institute, which offers training in the brief stabilization model Trauma Trauma Resiliency Model First Aide. She’s the director of research for The Foundation for Human Enrichment.
Elaine Miller-Karas, MSW, LCSW, is a trauma therapist, lecturer, cofounder, and Director of Innovation at the Trauma Resource Institute, and founding member of the International Transformational Resilience Coalition. The author of Building Resiliency to Trauma: The Trauma and Community Resiliency Models, she’s a key developer of the Trauma Resiliency and Community Resiliency Models. Her radio talk show Resiliency Within: Building Resiliency During Unprecedented Times can be found on VoiceAmerica.