The reenactment protocol for trauma and trauma-related pain



After a trauma, an individual is often tormented by the images of the tragic incident. These recollections return as nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and flashbacks. Physical pain related to the trauma triggers recollections of the trauma. These images reinforce the victimization. Those who take flight or who fight back during a trauma hold images of being active while those who freeze have more passive images. The Reenactment Protocol (RP) is a process of developing a new active image that reflects control, safety, and efficacy that is then associated with the trauma to allow the client a new set of meanings. I've never seen an abreaction, or reexperiencing of the trauma, arise during the RP. After the RP, clients report feeling in control. Their Subjective Units of Distress Scale (SUDS) have significantly lowered. Their physical pain has often lessened or disappeared. Clients often laugh at the point of reenacting their story, and the positive affect remains for the rest of the session. In therapies that have relied heavily on the RP, many clients gain a sense of control and sureness and increase their assertive behaviors.


Book Section




Jim W. Cole

Original Work Citation

Cole, J. W. (2005). The reenactment protocol for trauma and trauma-related pain. In R. Shapiro (Ed.), EMDR solutions: Pathways to healing (pp. 213-227). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co



“The reenactment protocol for trauma and trauma-related pain,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed March 1, 2021,

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