Trauma Release Exercises: An Introduction to an Innovative Method of Healing Trauma

Mar 03, 2023

 ''The body, not the thinking brain, is where we experience most of our pain, pleasure, and joy, and where we process most of what happens to us. It is also where we do most of our healing, including our emotional and psychological healing. and it is where we experience resilience and a sense of flow. ''

- Resmaa Menakem


Trauma is a unique experience that can have long-term, negative effects on the mental and physical health of those who have experienced it. Many people struggle to cope with these effects, often turning to therapy sessions or medications to help them manage their trauma. However, there is one innovative approach to healing trauma that has been gaining traction in recent years: David Bercelli's Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). Let’s explore how this method works!


The Science Behind TRE

TRE was developed by David Berceli, a former war zone therapist who had seen the devastating consequences of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After many years of research and development, he discovered a simple two-step process for releasing trauma from the body. The first part involves allowing the body to move into positions that trigger the release of tension and stored energy. This is done by gently shaking or quivering different parts of the body while lying down on a yoga mat or floor. The second part involves learning relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and mindfulness meditation.

Photo credit: Nikola Murniece @Unsplash

A Clinical Vignette

Let’s look at an example of how TRE might be implemented during a therapy session.

Claire is a 35-year-old woman who recently experienced significant trauma in her life. She comes into her session feeling overwhelmed and anxious about her current situation. Her therapist introduces TRE as an intervention that may help her release some of her pent up energy and emotion related to her trauma. Together, they begin by talking about how she feels in her body as she lies down on the yoga mat. After several minutes of discussion, Claire begins gently shaking different parts of her body as she allows herself to surrender into the movement without judgment or expectation. As she does this, she begins to feel a sense of relief and connection with her body as she becomes increasingly aware of how it feels to let go in this way. Her therapist then guides Claire through some mindful breathing exercises which further helps her relax into the tremor movements and eventually brings them both back into conversation about what Claire has experienced throughout the process.


Contraindications & Benefits

It should be noted that TRE should not be used if someone is experiencing active symptoms associated with mental illness such as dissociation or psychotic episodes due to its potential power to increase arousal levels; instead, other modalities may be considered more appropriate in these cases. Additionally, even though it can be incredibly helpful for many people struggling with trauma, it should not replace traditional forms of treatment such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or medication management when deemed necessary by clinicians or other professionals involved in care planning for individuals working through their trauma experiences. The benefits are vast, however; TRE can help clients become more mindful and connected with their bodies after traumatic experiences while also providing them with tools for self-regulation so they can better cope with intense feelings associated with traumatic memories. Ultimately, it can be hugely beneficial for helping individuals manage their symptoms related to PTSD and other traumas.

In summary, TRE offers an innovative approach for helping individuals heal from traumatic experiences. Developed by David Berceli, it utilizes gentle shaking movements combined with mindful breathing exercises in order create physical release within the body while also promoting relaxation. When used appropriately, TRE can provide significant benefits while avoiding some potential pitfalls associated with too much arousal activation or contraindicated mental health conditions. With proper guidance from clinicians and therapists, TRE offers great potential for helping individuals work through their trauma.

Photo credit: Balu Gaspar @Unsplash

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