Chapter 1

This pamphlet explains how to do TRT Phases Three and Four. The pamphlet number is: I-Ee

This material is for TRT participants. It also provides family members and friends information about the TR T 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


Welcome To TRT 

Phases Three and Four

Throughout the period in which the trauma went unreconciled, most recovering chemically dependent people believed that they were responsible for the trauma’s occurrence. Even though the contradicting behaviors that caused the trauma were the result of the drug’s influence on their brain chemistry , the behaviors still were clearly identifiable as having come from the “person.” People involved with the chemically dependent person, also hurt by the chemical influence and exasperated by the dependent person’s denial, supported the concept that the person – not the chemical relationship between drug and the neurotransmitters of that person’s brain- was the truly culpable force. As a result of such an assignment of responsibility, some of the chemically dependent person’s survival responses were confronted and reduced, whereas others, more deeply rooted, were strengthened. TRT is designed to counter-act this paradoxical aspect of chemical dependency.

How to Do Phase Three

Phase Three functions almost the same as Phase One. However, whereas the earlier phase identified the source of the behaviors that precipitated the original loss, Phase Three identifies the survival behaviors and thoughts that have fostered the additional hurt.

There are also several differences between the two TRT stages. First, Phase Three requires very little concentrated thought or profound introspection as did Phase One. All that is necessary now is that the list of survival responses (both thoughts and behaviors) be copied from the fifth column of the Phase Two Matrix. Once the list of survival responses has been transposed, you may add any additional survival responses remembered while copying the material. Second, you do not add times, feelings, emotional states or places to your writing as you did in Phase One. Phase Three is only a transitional process through which you are assisted in framing your responses, not dwelling on or emphasizing them for purposes of improving your awareness of how you act. If we do the latter, the tendency is to begin to blame ourselves again. (As you may be starting to see, blame and judgment and an intense emphasis on change are anathema to loss resolution; see Choice. Grief. Trauma and Control: An Explanation of Why and How TRT was Developed.)

The third difference involves workspace. Be sure to copy the survival response list onto a separate worksheet, one experience under the other, so that considerable margins remain to the right of each expression. We will use those margins later in Phase Four. (For an example, see pages 4, 5 and 6.)

Once the list is completed, check with your TRT counselor for an appropriate time to read what you have written. In addition, and as we have said before, also be sure always to check with your counselor if you have any questions about this or any phase of TRT.

TRT Phase Four

The fourth phase of TRT is similar to the second in that the matrix format is used. However, instead of five columns, the matrix for this phase has only three:

TRT Phase Four

We ask you to begin Phase Four by turning to your worksheet transcribed from the list of survival responses described in the previous phase.

For a sample of how to use the worksheet, we are going to borrow the third and fourth phases from the book, Trauma Resolution Therapy (TRT): A Structured and Experiential Approach to the Reconciliation of Loss. In that book, fictional examples of people affected by different kinds of trauma-causing events were followed to demonstrate to counselors how TRT should be facilitated. The example that we are reprinting here is a description of what we believe to be an average man’s survival response to the trauma of alcoholism. The sample worksheet taken from the third phase work follows:

Denied the arrest happened

Blamed the police, judge and society

Made jokes about what I did

Blamed my friends

Forgot that it happened

Manipulated others to cover for me

Blamed my boss

Blamed my company

Began to think of myself as scum

Lied to my friends

Pretended I wasn’t hurting these people

Blamed my friend’s girlfriend

Blamed my roommate

Made up psychological views to continue the blame

Began to believe the views I made up

Denied the baby was important from its birth



Decided the way that I acted when I was drinking was the natural way to act

Ignored my wife after she was almost killed in the accident

Didn’t talk about the accident

Denied that I had done anything wrong

Began to blame my wife for being the primary problem

Denied I was failing in my work

Blamed my boss

Blamed my wife

Blamed my children

Blamed my company

Blamed the country

Put the experience out of my mind

Denied that it happened

Lied to myself and blamed my wife

Decided lying was OK

Blamed everything on Helen

Denied that I had lost control

Lied to myself about control

Hid the loss of control from others

Began to believe there was no limit to the dark side of myself

Believed I was being controlled by a demon force

Blamed my wife

Lied to myself and everyone else

Blamed society

Became paranoid and blamed society

Joked about my suicide attempt

Denied it ever happened and blamed Helen

Forgot the wrecks,

Blamed the police and others involved (wrecker drivers)

Blamed the fight with my friend on him

Replaced my friends with drug addicts

Blamed everything on everyone else

Began to believe I was going insane


The first column of the Phase Four Matrix consolidates the individual responses into like groups so that eventually there is a much smaller listing of various categories of responses. This is done by starting at the top of the worksheet and progressing down the list, placing the responses, into categories where similarities exist. Each expression that represents a new or different category of response is given a new number in sequence.

For example, the first response recorded would be new and so far unduplicated. Consequently, we would place the number (1) in the margin to the right. The second and third responses are also new, so they are given new numbers as well:

Denied the arrest happened       . (1)

Blamed the police, the judge and society           (2)

Made jokes about what I did      (3)

The next response is not entirely new. It describes the use of blame to project1 the loss onto friends. Although “friends” is different from “judges” or “police” , the projection through blame, whether onto friends or the police, is the same. Consequently, the fourth response, “blamed my friends,” is assigned the number (2) to represent the similarities.

1Projection in this sense is used to explain how a person who feels emotional pain from loss, sees other people as responsible for that pain and thus responsible for the person’s predicament.

As we continue down the worksheet, we discover new categories of response but also find considerable duplication. The completed worksheet from this example might look like this:

  Category No.  
 Denied the arrest happened  (1)  
 Blamed the police, judge and society  (2)  
 Made jokes about what I did  (3)  
Blamed my friends  (2)  
 Forgot that it happened  (4)  
 Manipulated others to cover for me  (5)  
 Blamed my boss  (2)  
 Blamed my company  (2)  
 Began to think of myself as scum  (6)  
 Lied to my friends  (7)  
 Pretended I wasn’t hurting these people  (8)  
 Blamed my friend’s girlfriend  (2)  
 Blamed my roommate  (2)  
 Made up psychological views to continue the blame  (8)  
 Began to believe the views I made up  (8)
 Denied the baby was important from birth  (10)
 Lied  (7)
 Blamed  (2)
 Decided the way that I acted when I was drinking was the natural way to act  (8)
 Ignored my wife after she was almost killed in the accident  (11)
 Didn’t talk about the accident  (12)
 Denied that I had done anything wrong  (10)
 Began to blame my wife for being the primary problem  (2)
 Denied I was failing in my work  (10)
 Blamed my boss  (2)
 Blamed my wife  (2)
 Blamed my children  (2)
 Blamed my company  (2)
 Blamed the country  (2)
 Put the experience out of my mind  (8)
 Denied that it happened  (10)
 Lied to myself and blamed my wife  (7)(2)
 Decided lying was OK  (7)
 Blamed everything on Helen  (2)
Denied that I had lost control (10)  
Lied to myself about control (7)  
Hid the loss of control from others (5)  
Began to believe there was no limit to the dark side  of myself (6)  
Believed I was being controlled by a demon force (6)  
Blamed my wife (2)  
Lied to myself and everyone else (7)  
Blamed society (2)  
Became paranoid and blamed society (6)(2)  
Joked about my suicide attempt (3)  
Denied it ever happened and blamed Helen (10)(2)  
Forgot the wrecks, blamed the police and (4)  
others involved (wrecker drivers) (2)  
Blamed the fight with my friend on him (2)  
Replaced my friends with drug addicts (14)  
Blamed everything on everyone else (2)  
Began to believe I was going insane (6)  
Lied (7)  

The way that you consolidate your survival responses may differ considerably from the way we do it. This is fine; the division and merging of the responses will depend on their individual meanings to you. If you have additional questions, be sure to ask your TRT counselor.

Once this consolidation is complete, the next step is to list the different categories in the Phase Four Matrix all the way down the first column. Remember, this matrix is three columns across, rather than five, and focuses only on the initial survival response, the values contradicted by that response and the loss sustained as a consequence of the contradiction. The first seven categories of responses are reduced to simplified descriptions, as reflected in the following example:

TRT Phase Four


In summary, the numerical system is a means of identifying similar survival responses and determining the frequency of their use. From this identification, the losses resulting from those responses may also be identified, setting the stage for their reconciliation. As you can see, some of the categories, such as (3), contained only a few responses, whereas such as (2), were indicated repeatedly. The significance of this fact in terms of loss resolution those responses repeated most often usually reflect the greatest contradictions and subsequent loss.

Even though Phases Two and Four both identify and help to reconcile loss, there is a significant difference between the two. The second phase addresses loss on an extremely specific level. That is, exact trauma-causing behaviors are correlated with the particular emotions experienced, values contradicted, loss sustained and immediate survival responses made. Through that approach, loss is reconciled not only at individual levels but also through the wider view that comes from seeing the myriad of events as a single life experience. The result of that approach is a rigorous and uncompromising confrontation of the heart of the trauma. In Phase Four, on the other hand, we are looking only at the remnants of the trauma. We are saying, this is what happened to us. This is how we adapted and how we were changed by the trauma.

Had there not been the original trauma, there would be nothing now to write about. Consequently, we approach this phase with special care, and ask that you give that same special care to yourself. The special care (exemplified by the use of “categories” in the fourth phase) is intended to provide some distance from the experience of survival change and adaptation by making the survival behaviors more generalized. Consequently, when you fill in the rest of the fourth phase matrix, think in terms of what values were contradicted if, for example, “blaming others” was a response of your own. In this case, the matrix would reflect a summary or overview of your values and beliefs about inappropriate assignment of responsibility.

Identification of loss should be handled similarly to that of contradicted values. An example of category (2)’s application to the Phase Four Matrix follows.

TRT Phase Four


When the fourth phase matrix is completed, arrange with your counselor to share it with your group. He or she will assist you in sharing as much of the matrix in each sitting as is believed appropriate for your individual needs.

Of special note the experience most often reflected at this juncture of TRT is a profound sadness that accompanies all true mourning. Again, it is important to maintain your close contact with your TRT counselor.

Once the reading has been completed, most people find that the trauma and its effects have been thoroughly addressed. Usually, self-blame as protection against the formerly retained trauma is no longer required. In its place is a better understanding of the depths of the devastation that resulted from chemical dependency and an equally deep appreciation of having survived.

Once the fourth phase reading experience is completed, you ~ will be ready to enter the last phase of TRT.


TRT and Behavioral Therapy

TRT does not exist in an information vacuum. There are many other methods of therapy, both professional and self-assistance, available ugh the various helping elements of society. Almost all of these approaches proliferate within media as well. We believe each of these methods has value given its own limits and goals. However, each can also create problems when used inappropriately with TRT. One of the most prevalent methodologies, a cognitive and behavioral approach frequently utilized in the chemical dependency field, has a special significance for Phase Three of TRT in that it directly conflicts with TRT’s loss resolution efforts. TRT participants exposed to both TRT and the other approach may become confused unless the differences between the two approaches are explained.

The conflict between TRT’s third phase and the cognitive-behavioral method comes from the latter program’s interpretation of survival responses functions. Unlike TRT, the behavioral approach does not recognize the necessary utility of the survival responses in protecting the Person from the internally retained trauma. In other words, where the trauma is seen as the problem in TRT, the behavioral-cognitive approach argues that the survival responses are or have be- come the problem. Consequently, from the behavioral-cognitive perspective, survival responses are viewed as character defects, personality disorders, maladaptive defenses, indicators of sickness or improperly learned ways of interacting, depending on the interpreter’s training. A natural objective of that approach, then, is to help people become aware of the different patterns of behavior that are considered to be unproductive (dysfunctional) with the idea that once these patterns of learned dysfunction are understood, the individual can recognize his or her defects or disorders and then change those characteristics or ways of behaving or learn new ways to interact. The goal is an improved quality of life.

Where the behavioral program intends to change the way people act, the single purpose of TRT is the resolution of loss. Phases Three and Four of TRT are no exceptions to this rule, as they are designed only to help resolve the loss resulting from the survival response to the trauma. When survival responses are identified in Phase ‘Three, the intent is to describe instances in which they contradict the individual’s system of values and belief so that whatever loss was sustained can be identified and reconciled. There is no need to change the behavior, as they usually are already beginning to dissipate as a result of the loss resolution process completed in Phases One and Two. In the TRT approach, there also is no therapeutic need to label the survival responses as defects in character, compulsive disorders, maladaptive defenses, learned dysfunctional interactional patterns of behavior or indicators of sickness. Rather, survival responses can be seen for what they are: an ongoing trauma-caused decision-making process that is naturally born out of the shock of the assault and a process that is always following the unreconciled trauma’s direction. Rather than diverting attention from the trauma to the survival responses by thinking of those responses as bad and subsequently in need of change, the survival responses are seen instead as providing necessary and valuable assistance that paradoxically also tend to pit the person’s best strengths against himself or herself without that person’s permission. In other words, from the unresolved grief perspective, the victim of trauma is behaving in ways that although most probably do not conform with outside perceptions of the norm as measured by those not directly affected by that same trauma, the survival responses most certainly are offering vital aspects of assistance that the individual has to have for himself or herself given the particular trauma’s reality.

In TRT, victims of trauma, through their talents and abilities to survive, are seen as attempting to resist the trauma-causing assault that is still directed to the heart of their beings. Consequently, TRT is always facilitated with the intent to end the assault itself by resolving the trauma directly and never with the intent to alter the natural and necessary protective adaptations to the individual’s experience of the trauma.


The Survivor’s trauma-perpetuated existence is slowly diminished as the trauma is resolved, but not before it attempts to prevent the trauma’s resolution. During these periods of resolution and less dependence on survival methods, other therapeutic views outside of TRT can affect the trauma resolution process. Specifically, some behaviorally oriented programs tend to focus on the survival responses in a way that is different from TRT’s approach. Conflict may result if the TRT participant does not understand the differences. TRT’s treatment of survival responses is not to see those responses as indicators of sickness or dysfunction, but rather solely as indicators of trauma. In TRT, the Survivor is respected for the help it has given the individual during that person’s incapacitation. If this respect and understanding for the person who has survived is not provided (as it is deserved) along with the recognition of the Survivor’s less-productive role, the trauma and loss discovered in these later phases of TRT will be only partially resolved. Providing this sometimes difficult understanding of the Survivor’s often simultaneously productive and less productive accomplishments is one of the most important elements of the next and last phase of TRT.



The next pamphlet is the last TRT instructional aid. The pamphlet number is:




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