The Language of the Nervous System


The Language of the Nervous System

The 5 TRM Self-Stabilization Skills

By Laurie Leitch and Elaine Miller-Karas

November/December 2010


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…

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