Louis Tinnin, M.D., and Linda Gantt, Ph.D., ATR-BC, two long-time researchers in trauma treatment and art therapy, developed their theories and treatment techniques based on cutting edge brain research, many years of clinical observations, and first-person accounts of trauma survivors. They have shown that healing is possible by applying simple principles that help the brain “recode” itself by finishing trauma stories.

The Instinctual Trauma Response™
The Instinctual Trauma Response (ITR) describes a universal, brain-based reaction to overwhelming, terrorizing events (such as feeling trapped or about to die or witnessing another person in such an event). As a result, a traumatized individual experiences a series of evolutionary survival responses. These 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.

The Graphic Narrative™Process 
Processing traumas using the Graphic Narrative™ process is a fundamental task of the method. The goal is to tell the verbal AND non-verbal story of your traumas. The creation of a detailed, coherent narrative with a beginning, middle, and an end brings together the fragmented images of the trauma. Drawing the story from start to finish, complete with all the non-verbal details is crucial to helping you bring closure to the traumatic memory. You do not need to be an artist to use this process. The drawings are often stick figures and can be done quickly.  It’s not about the drawing as much as it’s about the re-presenting to the brain with a beginning, middle, and end.

The Externalized Dialogue™ Procedure 
Most people who have survived a trauma become aware of separate parts or aspects of themselves that they may try to ignore or disown. These states may represent the traumatized part that now experiences flashbacks. You may have an internal part that manifests in a strong thought or in a voice that has a distinct point of view. The task of reversing dissociation is to engage in an active dialogue between these separated parts that are different or even opposed to other conscious thoughts. Our simple and rapid procedure of an externalized dialogue is effective in reversing dissociation and bringing unity. You will learn how to use video or writing to bring about internal peace. This is something you can do for the rest of your life, in fact, we encourage it to keep the positive results of the trauma processing.

How does the ITR™ approach work?

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 art-informed approach (which they later called the 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 the patients (a process called a “re-presentation”), the patients often spontaneously commented that they felt the event was truly over. Along with this, symptoms were greatly reduced or disappeared.

We find many people are given a  devastating diagnosis when in fact the it’s just a symptom caused from a traumatic event.  It’s not who you are, it’s what happened to you, AND it’s totally treatable.

Check out the videos on www.HelpForTrauma.com

Although doctors prescribe several types of medications for PTSD symptoms, there is no medication that goes to their root cause. Medications can be useful in taking the edge off your symptoms or in treating a co-occurring disorder. However, working with our therapists, you will learn ways to help manage any left-over symptoms without using medications.

If you are currently taking medications for your PTSD symptoms 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 www.HelpForTrauma.com and watch Dr. Tinnin’s video on medications.

For more information call 800-755-6105 or email us at Info@TraumaTherapy.us

Therapy Comparison

Instinctual Trauma Response™Other Therapies
Takes fragments of the traumas that cause flashbacks & nightmares and puts them into historical context so
they are no longer triggers
Focus on coping skills (progressive relaxation,
deep breathing, thought-stopping)
Uses images from the Graphic Narrative™ process
(doing play therapy with children) using the structure
of the Instinctual Trauma Response —“The image
comes first”
Uses cognitive skills and reframing
If a traumatic event is not thoroughly processed, it
feels like the event will happen again. The ITR method
makes it possible to truly “finish the story!”
Concentrates on how the person’s thoughts,
feelings, and behaviors are connected in the
As the traumas are truly finished, the person will have
more capacity for problem-solving
What happened in the past is not considered as
important as present-day functioning
Single traumas can be completed in a matter of hours;
a program can be done as an intensive (30 hours per
week), a long weekend (9 hours), or weekly sessions.
Some therapists insist on a long period of
stabilization before trauma processing begins;
can be years of weekly sessions
Can be used with children as young as 3 years old as
well as older children, adolescents, and adults.
Young children and those with developmental delays cannot be treated with some types of trauma work
Does not require re-living the event.Some approaches stress
abreaction (re-experiencing the emotion dissociated from
the original trauma) and others use prolonged exposure
Integrates nonverbal and verbal memories.Deals primarily with verbal material