Traumatic Incident Reduction


Category: Complementary and Alternative Therapies

What is it?

Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) is a systematic desensitization procedure for reducing or eliminating the negative impact of a traumatic experience by uncovering and resolving repressed memories related to the trauma.

How does it work?

A therapist, called a facilitator guides the patient, called a viewer, repetitively through an imaginary replay of the trauma. The process then involves repeated viewing of the traumatic memory under conditions designed to enhance safety and minimize distractions. It is thought to allow the patient to review and revise their perspective on the trauma and resolve negative emotions attached the memory.

Is it effective?

There has only been one randomized controlled trial in which female inmates, identified with PTSD, underwent the TIR process. After being compared to a wait list control group the study reported a significant difference in favour of the intervention group for depression and anxiety scales. Overall the use of TIR as treatment for PTSD has not been research adequately to give an effectiveness measure.

Are there any disadvantages?

To date there has been no reports of adverse reactions to TRI.

Where do you get it?

The international Traumatic Incident Reduction webpage has a directory of practitioners offering this technique from around the world. While these strategies are pursued, it is also important that the person with PTSD is under the care of a certified health professional.

What are the evidence limitations?

The one study identified as assessing TIR for PTSD did not use the DSM-IV criteria for their sample involving female inmates. This study sampled subjects with a questionnaire focusing on anxiety or depressive emotions attached to a previous traumatic incident. Therefore interpreting this evidence should be undertaken with caution.


Based on the current lack of high quality evidence, TIR cannot be recommended as a first-line intervention for those diagnosed with PTSD. More research is required.

Key References

Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health 2007, ‘Australian guidelines for the treatment of adults with Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Practitioner Guide’ National Health and Medical research Council, viewed 11 December 2008,

Devilly, GJ 2005, ‘Power therapies and possible threats to the science of psychology and psychiatry’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 39, pp. 437-445.

Valentine, PV & Smith, TE 2001, ‘Evaluating Traumatic Incident Reduction Therapy with Female Inmates: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial’, Research on Social Work Practice, Vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 40-52.

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