Chapter 1

This pamphlet is the first TRT instructional aid for recovering chemically dependent people. The pamphlet number is:






This material is for TRT participants. It also provides family members and friends information about the TRT program so that their support for the participant may be enhanced. The TRT Educational Program, including this material, is not intended for general interest reading. It is not a solicitation to engage in TRT. Neither is it authorization to provide TRT to anyone. TRT is authorized for use only under the supervision and facilitation of a Certified TRT Counselor. The authors of TRT, and or their designates, are the TRT certifying authority.







© 1988 Collins & Carson

Sobriety, Trauma and TRT

TRT for chemically dependent people is designed to meet very specific needs under specific conditions. The goal of the program is to help the recovering chemically dependent person to resolve trauma resulting from addiction. The assumption is that the chemically dependent person is leading a chemically free life and is well motivated to continue that effort before entering the TRT process.

TRT Phase One:Identifying and Describing the Trauma-Causing event(s).

The first phase of TRT is intended to help you identify and then describe trauma-causing experiences or events that resulted from you’re drinking/drug use. There are two parts to this descriptive process: writing and reading.


Begin the TRT process by selecting one incident from your chemical-use history that stands out to you. For example, you might recall getting drunk and behaving in a way that later did not seem appropriate to you or someone you cared about. The incidents you select can cover almost any experience from an arrest, to letting the family down, to a failure on the job.

The form used to describe the incident has five different elements. First, we ask that you use “I” or lime” in your writing when describing your experience of the episode. For example,

I was supposed to meet my wife for dinner, but I ….”

Second, use only the past tense of verbs to describe the experience.

“I was drunk when they arrested me.”

Third, begin the description with the approximate time and place in which the incident occurred:

“It was just before Christmas.”

“I think we had been married about 12 years and we lived on Holland Street”.

Fourth, make the form as accurate an account as possible of what transpired. Do not confuse the reporting process with expressions of philosophy and judgment or a discussion of prospective remedies. In addition, even if the chemical use at the time may have distorted your recollections of the incident, record the facts as well as you can remember them. Do not be concerned that your description may not be entirely accurate. As the TRT process continues, clarity about the different experiences probably will increase. If not, your TRT counselor will help you with this part of the reconstructive process.

The fifth element of the description is the inclusion of what you either felt at the time or what you feel now as you re-encounter the incident. Again, keep clear of philosophical and judgmental expressions or any form of moralizing. Simple expressions of feeling such as “sadness,” “hurt,” “anger,” “embarrassment,” “shame,” “depression,” “disbelief,” “numbness,” “fear” and ‘.’terror” are all that is required at this stage of TRT. For example:

“When I hit her, I felt rage. Later I felt disbelief, shame and then terror at what I had done. ”

The following is an example1 of a complete description of a single trauma-causing drinking/drug use-related incident written in TRT’s format for the first phase:

“It was my daughter’s eighth birthday. I had just been promoted. I was supposed to meet you and the children at Astroworld. I went out to celebrate my promotion with friends and got drunk. When I got to the park, my family was leaving. I began to argue with them. I started yelling at my wife and then got into a fight with the security personnel. I was arrested. I felt rage and out of control when I was drunk. I felt shame, guilt and disbelief when I was arrested. I feel shame now describing the experience.”


1 This as well as all examples are fictional and created by the authors for the purpose of explaining how to do TRT correctly.

Remember, even though you may feel emotional pain while recalling such episodes, it is very important that you not incorporate moral judgments, critical blame or any kind of self- evaluation that might divert your attention from your progress through the grieving process. Responses to trauma other than the sharing of what happened and the accompanying experience of grief usually retard the trauma-resolution process (see Choice. Grief. Trauma and Control: An Explanation of Why and How TRT Was Developed).


Once the description is written in the proper form, discuss with your TRT counselor the appropriate time to begin the reading portion of this phase. After you have read your description to the group, the counselor will direct the group members’ feedback to you so that the grieving process may be appropriately shared. If TRT is being done through individual sessions, the TRT counselor will provide the appropriate response.

After one description has been shared, the process of writing, reading and responding to TRT group-member feedback accelerates. You may find yourself recalling and writing down as many as five incidents at a time. Sometimes, people remember an especially important event. Although it may be painful to recall, it still is very meaningful to be able to address the experience when the proper time comes.

Reading is a non-static process. Sometimes, you find yourself reading only one incident in a session. At another time, you may read three or four descriptions, depending on what you have written. At still other times, you may for some reason have recorded a large number of trauma- causing events yet refrained for many sessions from reading. Once you decide to share them, your counselor may ask that you read as many of them in one session as possible. In addition, your counselor may ask you to slow your reading, because he or she may believe that you are missing important aspects of the grief-resolution process. The counselor may also help you to write or read when you feel stuck. (see Giving Feedback in TRT)

Once the drug induced incidents have been identified and their accompanying emotions given special attention, the losses resulting from those events become available to be identified and eventually reconciled. To help in that process is the purpose of TRT Phase Two.



The next pamphlet is the second TRT instructional aide. It explains how to do TRT Phase Two for chemically dependent people. The pamphlet number is:




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