Instinctual Trauma Response (ITR)

Instinctual Trauma Response (ITR) is a therapy modality developed by Dr. Louis Tinnin and Dr. Linda Gantt. It is designed to address trauma-related symptoms and disorders, particularly those resulting from complex trauma and attachment disruptions. The approach is rooted in neuroscience, attachment theory, and the understanding of the instinctual responses to trauma.

Here are some key features and principles of Instinctual Trauma Response therapy:

  1. Focus on Instinctual Responses: ITR recognizes that traumatic experiences can trigger instinctual responses in individuals, such as fight, flight, freeze, and collapse. These responses are deeply ingrained in the nervous system and can persist long after the traumatic event has ended. ITR aims to work with these instinctual responses to facilitate healing.
  2. Somatic Orientation: The therapy places a strong emphasis on the body and somatic experiencing. Trauma is understood as not only psychological but also physiological, and thus, the body’s responses play a crucial role in the healing process. Techniques may involve breathwork, body awareness exercises, and movement to help release stored trauma energy.
  3. Attachment Perspective: ITR acknowledges the impact of attachment disruptions and relational trauma on an individual’s well-being. Therapeutic interventions are aimed at repairing attachment wounds and fostering secure connections between the therapist and client.
  4. Bottom-Up Approach: Unlike traditional talk therapies that primarily engage the cognitive functions of the brain, ITR utilizes a bottom-up approach. This means that it starts with regulating the body’s physiological responses before addressing cognitive and emotional aspects of trauma. By calming the nervous system, individuals can better tolerate and process traumatic memories and emotions.
  5. Integration of Neurobiological Research: ITR draws on the latest findings in neuroscience to inform its therapeutic techniques. This includes understanding how trauma affects the brain’s structure and function, as well as incorporating interventions that promote neuroplasticity and resilience.
  6. Phase-Oriented Approach: Therapy is often structured in phases, beginning with stabilization and safety-building before progressing to deeper exploration and processing of traumatic memories. This phased approach helps ensure that individuals have the necessary resources and coping skills to engage with their trauma effectively.
  7. Trauma-Informed Care: ITR is grounded in trauma-informed principles, which emphasize safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, and empowerment. Therapists are attuned to the unique needs and experiences of trauma survivors and work to create a supportive and validating therapeutic environment.


Overall, Instinctual Trauma Response therapy offers a comprehensive and integrative approach to healing trauma, addressing its physiological, psychological, and relational dimensions. By working with the body’s instinctual responses and leveraging neurobiological insights, ITR aims to promote lasting recovery and resilience in trauma survivors.