Virginia Tech® home

Science behind CRM

The science behind the CRM model simplifies the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which is what controls our brain and body’s survival response. The ANS connects to every major organ in the body and catalyzes action in response to threats in both our present moment and threats recalled instantly from our past. CRM teaches the science behind our fight, flight, or freeze response through naming the sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight response the High Zone and the freeze response the Low Zone. CRM’s genius is to normalize these responses and teach us concrete skills to discover what ease feels like in the body, which we can then use as a compass to help us know what we are working to navigate towards when we get bumped in the High or Low Zone. Many of us can describe in detail our High and Low Zone experiences- they tend to arrest attention as they are cues that the body is in threat or overwhelm. CRM attempts to draw attention to sensations of neutrality, ease, or calm, which for many of us, is foreign or novel. Through repetitive practice in using this compass, we can access the brain’s neuroplasticity to rewire towards resiliency.