Instinctual Trauma Response®

Instinctual Trauma Response theory describes how the brain and body are instinctually hard-wired to survive during a traumatic event: Trauma memories get stuck—frozen in the non-verbal/emotional brain where there are no words and no sense of time—causing a person to relive the event over and over.

The ITR components include the startle, a thwarted intention to fight or escape, the freeze, an altered state of consciousness, body sensations that are not attached to words, automatic obedience, and self-repair. Many people find after events they get "stuck" in one of these components.

The Intensive Trauma Resolution program eliminates or greatly reduces disturbing trauma symptoms. gently, quickly, and effectively. It gets to the root of the traumatic stress by helping a person recognize these stages while telling the story of the non-verbal narrative using Graphic Narrative™. Externalized Dialogue™  helps a person work with their internal landscape of "parts" frozen in time, their beliefs, and or behaviors.

 The ITR program is especially useful for emergency responders and for resolving traumatic memories from the earliest years.


Graphic Narrative™

  • Graphic Narrative is a timeline guided and uses storytelling aspects to end triggers. This service consists of tasks compiling the trauma story with a series of drawings, storyboarding, and compassionate recounting of the story to reveal and sequence fragmented trauma memories (“memory shrapnel”) and put words to them—providing a beginning, middle, and end. The event then feels settled, completed, and in the past. This is time-limited based on a person's history and is used with the Externalized Dialogue for a full ITR Program.


Externalized Dialogue™

  • Externalized Dialogue™ is an ongoing task needed to bring to light and understand parts of the person that are frozen in the past, and are the source of negative symptoms, behaviors, or beliefs (Victim Mythology). The person learns about these parts and how to best help them in the present-day with their True Self. Dialogue between the True Self and parts helps the person settle and bring together their parts so they can move ahead fruitfully. It is a tool for life. This service can be separate sessions or added on at any time.

The ITR program schedule is flexible. It can be done virtually or in person. It can usually be completed in 20-30 hours, 2-6 hours per day, over a period of a week or two.


"Resolve the trauma first and see what's left."

In the 1990s, Dr. Tinnin conducted clinical studies to compare different methods of accessing traumatic material. He compared hypnosis, sodium amytal, and nitrous oxide. He discovered that the catharsis of reliving a trauma was not the curative element as he had predicted. He realized that the key to a person’s improvement was being able to finish the story. Those whose stories were told in an unemotional fashion did better than those whose stories were emotionally told but interrupted before the ending. With this important finding, Dr. Tinnin and Dr. Gantt began working on specific methods to keep a person from reliving painful events. They devised an image narrative approach (which they later called Graphic Narrative™). They soon found if they used the components of the Instinctual Trauma Response as an outline for each story, it enabled them to identify many of the fragments of a story that caused troubling symptoms. Once the stories were complete and then told back to a survivor (a process called a “re-presentation”), they often spontaneously commented that they felt the event was truly over. Along with this, symptoms were greatly reduced or disappeared. The next step is Externalized Dialogue™ where a person learns to communicate and understand the dissociated parts of them that hold "victim Mythology" (negative beliefs or behaviors) based on those now finished past events. We call this a "tool for life."

We find many people are given a  devastating diagnosis when in fact they are "stuck" in a fixed state of the ITR caused by a traumatic event.  It’s not who you are, it’s what happened to you, AND it’s totally treatable.

During sessions of intensive trauma resolution, memories are re-coded into the verbal brain so the while brain understands the event is over. The chaos of visual, auditory, and body memories left from traumatic events are now organized n a logical and natural way.

The approach of Graphic Narrative, or storytelling with images in the third-person, with the cognitive component of Externalized Dialogue, is quickly becoming the "gold standard" for trauma resolution. There is no re-living and a person soon sees how these simple tasks work for them no matter how disturbing the event was.

Although doctors prescribe several types of medications for conditions such as anxiety, there is no medication that goes to the root cause. Medications can be useful in taking the edge off however, our motto is: Resolve the trauma first and see what's left

If you are currently taking medications we urge you to stay on them until you complete your program. After you return home you will be able to evaluate your experience and decide with your doctor whether your medications can be reduced or eliminated.

Visit and watch Dr. Tinnin’s video on medications.


Intensive Trauma Resolution is self-pay. We do not diagnose or take insurance. It is 100% confidential work. No notes are taken unless requested. We will recommend follow up work. We are happy to discuss your program with your primary mental health provider (with release).