Dealing with unresolved trauma
- Neural science has shown how unresolved trauma causes an “amygdala hijack” in the brain, which inhibits rational thinking in the neocortex and causes the continued release of stress hormones long after the traumatic event has passed – with long-term adverse health impacts.
- Typical symptoms of unresolved trauma are: upsetting flashbacks; emotional overreactions to certain triggers; hypervigilance, emotional numbness and dissociation etc. that continue beyond three months after the traumatic event.
- The inhibited neocortex often resists therapy that attempts to resolve the trauma via cognitive processes.
- The viewing technique used by AM addresses the emotional effects of trauma directly by guiding the client (called a “viewer”) through visualisation in a safe environment. This reconditions the amygdala to “realise” that the traumatic circumstances are not present anymore and the client is now safe and the brain may return to its original healthy state of functioning.
- In Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) the counsellor is called a “facilitator” because the TIR process empowers and supports clients to work at their own pace, come to their own conclusions and decisions, and reach an endpoint when the traumatic experience is resolved.
- The role of the facilitator is, firstly, to empower clients through an understanding of why they experience the symptoms they do and how the TIR process works and, secondly, supports clients through the structured visualisation process.
- Client’s/viewer’s responses are accepted by the facilitator without judgement, without offering guidance or giving advice, and without making comments or making any diagnosis beyond identifying whether unresolved trauma exists.
- The National Registry of Evidence-Based Practices, which is a service of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the USA acknowledges TIR as one of the accepted effective techniques to address Trauma and PTSD in USA war veterans.
Unblocking is an Applied Metapsychology technique which is one of three methods taught in the TIR Workshop. This technique makes use of repetitive questions concerning a particular relationship, situation, choice or issue that a client does not have clarity about.
We block our own awareness, or allow it to be blocked for different reasons – we may be afraid of the consequences of knowing the truth about a particular situation; we may be ashamed of what we have to face if we become fully aware or we may be scared of having to take responsibility for a particular situation. We prevent our own awareness by adopting some sort of avoidance strategy. We may deny or rationalize the fact that we have an abrasive way of speaking to our colleagues; we may ignore our own contribution to a conflict-ridden relationship or conceal certain information in order to create a better image. This is usually out of our own awareness and prevents us from fully confronting and resolving a particular situation of concern or discomfort.
The questions in the Unblocking technique are designed in such a way that it allows the client to inspect a number of such blocks repetitively, one at a time, without any inputs from the facilitator, in order to “see-through” or remove the block in order to reach clarity about the area of interest.
Expanded Application (EA) techniques
On the TIR Expanded Applications workshop, the skills taught in the basic TIR workshop are further developed and strengthened. In addition, a number of new techniques designed to address other traumatic situations are included such as a way to handle a feared future trauma. This will equip the facilitator (counsellor) to deal with more diverse situations presented by viewers (clients).
Harvard Business Review Article: Calming Your Brain During Conflict: https://hbr.org/2015/12/calming-your-brain-during-conflict
TEDx Talk: The effect of trauma on the brain and how it affects behaviors | John Rigg | TEDxAugusta https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9Pg4K1ZKws
National Library of Medicine: DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for PTSD https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207191/box/part1_ch3.box16/
Anxiety & Depression Association of America: Screening for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) https://adaa.org/screening-posttraumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd