By | March 18, 2014


Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE™) were developed by trauma specialist Dr. David Berceli to reduce the impacDr. Bercelit of traumatic experiences on the body. TRE™ was designed to be taught to large populations for whom trauma and PTSD are pervasive (such as military personnel, and natural disaster survivors), but also benefits anyone who may be holding stress and tension in their body. Benefits and reduction of stress related symptoms are usually reported within the first few sessions, and consistently include a reduction in anxiety and chronic pain, and improvements in sleep quality.

TRE™ was developed after observing the survival behavior of mammals in the wild. Having escaped life-threatening fight or flight situations, mammals automatically release excess energy from their body and restore balance to their nervous system via an innate neuro-muscular tension-release mechanism in the body. As mammals, humans also have access to this natural stress-release mechanism, and can benefit from it in the same way. TRE™ makes this possible via a short series of physical exercises that stretch the core muscles involved in the stress-release process, creating a shaking like mechanism in the musces that expel stress- and trauma-related tension from the body. As the pattern of muscular tension in the body changes, the brain establishes a neural pattern related to relaxation, releasing endorphins and other stress-reducing chemicals, and restoring the individual to their natural state of bio-chemical balance.

In contrast to the trembling that one can sometimes experience during fear, anxiety, or illness, the muscular movement evoked by TRE™ is both self-generated and self-controlled, and is therefore experienced without disturbance or displeasure. On the contrary, TRE™ is consistently reported to leave individuals feeling revitalized and restored, both mentally and physically. Resiliency (the ability to respond to crisis and then return to balance) appears to be significantly enhanced in individuals who use TRE™, and with practice, the stress-release mechanism reportedly takes less and less time to evoke. The Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE™) can be learned in a few sessions and then self-applied without professional guidance or equipment, making this an affordable therapeutic tool for all populations. TRE™ was recently given a Level 3 status by the prestigious Defense Centers for Excellence, and further study is now required to better understand the extent to which this technique could benefit our military personnel, their families, and our society as a whole.

TRE™ works best in combination with other type of bodywork modalities such Tai Chi, Yoga and Meditation, experential therapies such as art and equine therapy, as well as other type of trauma treatment modalities such as EMDR, EFT and Somatic Experiencing. TRE™ is a set of exercises that can be easy to execute and one can see instant results which can be preferred by many over Somatic Experiencing, and can also be more effective for treating residual and complex ptsd as well as reduce the risk for retraumatization that is possible with other trauma modalities such as EMDR.

** TRE, LLC believes that TRE™ is best taught by Certified Professionals who have been educated to observe, work with, and teach self-regulating techniques to individuals who may experience PTSD, excessive anxiety, or traumatic stress. As with other trauma releasing modalities, emotional responses such as freezing and flooding may occur. If these responses are experienced, we strongly recommend that TRE be integrated with other therapies. You can find out more information at

Michele Rosenthal

Article by Michele Rosenthal at

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