Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises Explained | TRE®

Published: Feb 17, 2024
Edited by: Team TB

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Developed by Dr. David Berceli, the Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE®) are a set of seven exercises that support the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of tension that where created in the body during a traumatic experience or through chronic stress.

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According to Dr. Berceli, TRE® “… activates a natural reflex mechanism of shaking or vibrating that releases muscular tension, calming down the nervous system. When this muscular shaking/vibrating mechanism is activated in a safe and controlled environment, the body is encouraged to return back to a state of balance.”

Six of the seven TRE® exercises are carried out in a standing position while the final seventh exercise is performed lying flat on the back with the feet together, knees bent out and downward towards the floor. The tremors (shaking) are induced while lying in this last position.

The exercises are based on the idea that stress, tension, and trauma express themselves as both psychological and physical phenomena, a Body-Mind i.e. Body-Psychotherapy approach that was pioneered by Dr. Wilhelm Reich, the famous Austrian physician and psychoanalyst who conceived of the concepts of Character Armor and Body Armor (Muscular Armor).

The way TRE® functions is as a body-based, somatic process which, when done correctly through a Certified TRE Provider, can allow an individual to discharge tension from the body, which often does not require “revisiting the story” as Dr. Berceli states, meaning that one doesn’t need to further verbally describe or talk about the traumatic experience that is flushed out of one’s system.

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It’s claimed that the reflexive muscle vibrations generally feel pleasant and soothing, and that after doing TRE®, many people have reported feelings of peace and wellbeing. Moreover, TRE® is designed to be an easy to learn self-help tool that, once learned, can be used independently when needed, thereby continuously supporting and promoting personal health and wellness.

According to the TRE® website, the reported benefits are numerous and include less worry and anxiety, reduction of PTSD symptoms, more energy and endurance, improved marital relationships, less workplace stress, better sleep quality, less relationship conflicts, reduced muscle and back pain, increased flexibility, greater emotional resiliency, decreased symptoms of vicarious trauma, healing of old injuries, and relief from chronic medical conditions.

Apart from being a self-help tension reduction technique, TRE® can be used by professional healthcare providers as a complementary practice when integrated with other treatment modalities.

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