Ben Rivers, 2016.

The following protocol offers a safe and effective approach for processing trauma and restoring a sense of aliveness and wellbeing to survivors. 

It is essential to note however, that therapeutic benefit can only occur if the Protagonist is enabled to progress through each stage of the model while remaining within their window of tolerance.  In other words, ‘too much, too soon, too fast’ can result in harm and potential retraumatization. 

For this reason, some TSM dramas may revolve solely around resourcing via connection to the prescriptive roles.  The full ‘working through’ of trauma may therefore require time and multiple interventions before a full, or ‘good-enough’, resolution can be achieved. 

ARTICULATING THE CONTRACT

The protagonist describes the issue they wish to work on and what they hope to gain from the drama.

BUILDING PRESCRIPTIVE ROLES

The Director guides the Protagonist to select and concretize prescriptive roles (including roles of observation, containment and restoration), focusing especially on resources that appear most appropriate to the protagonist’s current state and the therapeutic task at hand. 

Traditionally, a Containing Double (CD), and, if necessary, a Body Double (BD) are prescribed at the commencement of any drama where the Protagonist intends to look at, or revisit a trauma scene.  

(Additional prescriptive roles are sometimes added at later points in the drama, as and when needed.)

DESCRIBING TRAUMA

The Protagonist describes the traumatic event/s and conditions that occurred.

OBSERVATION

If the Protagonist is able to access their memories without emotional overwhelm, the traumatic experience can be concretized as a still image/tableau.  (If overwhelming affect is expressed, the Protagonist will need additional input from their Containing Double and/or Body Double before moving further.)

The Protagonist views the tableau and then articulates their observations from the position of Observing Ego (OE).

(Please note: here, and at other points throughout the drama, various defenses and internalized trauma roles may try to eclipse or ‘blend’ with the OE.  In such cases, the director must use the prescriptive roles and the Manager of Defenses to re-connect the protagonist to an experience of calmness, confidence and clarity.)

WITNESSING

When the Protagonist is ready, the ‘trauma tableau’ is activated to become a full scene with sound, movement and dialogue. 

The Protagonist continues to witness from outside. 

They are then invited to express thoughts and feelings that arise in response to the scene. 

If a sense of courage and compassion does not naturally arise, this may indicate that internalized trauma roles are (still) present, in which case they should be identified, separated out, and distanced from the Protagonist-as-witness. 

RESCUE

When the Protagonist is ready, they enter the scene as their adult/protective self (usually with the support of various prescriptive roles) in order to halt the abuse and rescue their victim/oppressed self. 

As part of this scene, the perpetrator is demobilized and removed to an appropriate place outside the circle of safety.

If the Protagonist remains tentative about entering the trauma scene, they may need to re-connect with their prescriptive roles or even witness their rescue first before enacting it themselves.

CONSCIOUS RE-EXPERIENCING WITH DEVELOPMENTAL REPAIR

The Protagonist is role reversed into the position of victim/wounded child in order to experience the previously established rescue scene.

The Protagonist, in role as their wounded child, is able to express their pain and other emotions while being held by their adult/protective self (who also connects with qualities of tenderness, nurturing and compassion).

In some cases, the Protagonist may desire a ‘post-rescue’ encounter with the perpetrator.  Such encounters should always occur with the Protagonist in an empowered, adult role.  (In these scenes, the Protagonist rarely role-reverses with the perpetrator.  However, role reversal may occur where the experience of an apology or some other reparative act is desired.)

TRANSFORMATION

The Protagonist experiences a final scene that celebrates their newfound sense of safety, freedom, empowerment and integration. 

Surplus reality scenes that concretize other wished-for experiences may also be enacted.

CLOSURE

As the drama comes to a close, the Protagonist is invited to articulate in words what they wish to remember and ‘take’ from the drama.

Group sharing concludes the process.