What is Traumatic Stress Relief?

Definitions taken from the Traumatic Stress Relief manual.

Basic stress

The ‘baseline’ or underlying stress caused by various ‘ordinary’ sources of personal, family and social tensions. It may also be increased by changes in the day-to-day environment, and normally decreases after the situation is over.

Cumulative stress

Cumulative stress is a common experience for people who live or work in chronically stressful conditions that build up over time without a period of time for the body and mind to recover.

Traumatic Stress

Traumatic Stress (TS) is caused by events that are emotionally overwhelming situations that may involve actual or threaten death, serious injury, or threat to physical integrity.

Reactions to traumatic stress vary considerably ranging from relatively mild, creating minor disruptions in the person’s life to severe and debilitating. (Confronting Stress and Trauma, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, Available at: istss.org/public-resources/what-is-traumatic-stress.aspx)

It is a mental state

  • in which the individual suffers from extreme anxiety and a variety of other potentially disabling symptoms
  • caused by events that involve actual or threatened death or serious injury to self or others, provoking intense fear, helplessness or horror
  • that overwhelms an individual’s capacity to cope


Symptoms of TS can include (more than usually experienced)

  • Overwhelm
  • Worry and over-thinking about the situation and its consequences
  • Poor concentration on other things and easily distracted
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Feelings of panic
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness and fidgeting
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Poor daily functioning and difficulty carrying out routine tasks
  • Avoidance of usual tasks and routines
  • Feelings of helplessness and loss of control
  • Fatigue and muscle ache


The Traumatic Stress Relief (TRS) programme is a low-intensity trauma curriculum developed in 2018/19 by an international team of leading researchers and clinicians. Based on the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model, it was originally intended for training paraprofessionals, first-responders and allied professionals in low- and middle-income countries to respond to manmade and natural disasters and for self-care where mental health professionals are in very short supply.

The TSR programme uses two evidence-based EMDR protocols, the Integrative Group Treatment Protocol (IGTP) of Dr Ignacio Jarero and the Group Traumatic Episode Protocol (G-TEP) of Elan Shapiro which were developed in the field to treat disaster survivors.

Parts of this TSR program are being rapidly adapted by a broader team of NHS colleagues to be delivered remotely in a phase-based approach within the existing NHS structure, starting with these phase 1, self help techniques for self care and also with colleagues and clients.