What Is Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE®)?

Dr. David Berceli

“A revolutionary new technique to release deep chronic tension and restore an inner sense of peace and calm.” 

Dr. David Berceli

Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE®) was developed by licensed clinical social worker/trauma therapist Dr. David Berceli. For 20 years he traveled around the world helping traumatized people in war zones and natural disaster areas. He quickly realized the limitations of 1:1 talk therapy with large groups of people. He set out to find a way to help more people more effectively — with a self-help tool clients could use after he left.

Dr. Berceli’s research led him to his theory that when stressed, the body involuntarily contracts to protect itself. When the danger passes, the body releases that contraction through shaking. He believes we, like other mammals, are genetically encoded to both contract and shake.

How Can I Benefit from TRE®?

Most of us repress our bodies’ natural shaking mechanism for one reason or another until we “forget” how to do it. The result? We are living in a constant fight-flight-freeze-or-fawn (please/appease) state.

Without release, our traumas and stresses can accumulate over time, like grains of sand on the beach. It’s overwhelming! And painful.

Releasing tension through tremoring is essential for:

  • calming your nervous system,
  • restoring emotional balance, and
  • releasing tension patterns held in your body — from past traumas or daily stress.

Learning how to self-manage your stress and recover from trauma is empowering. Try a TRE® class and see for yourself!

Sand through hands
Horses in mist

What Does TRE® Feel Like?

Dr. Berceli designed a series of 7 simple exercises that target certain muscles to manually turn on the body’s shaking mechanism. These initial tremors arise from the fatigued muscles and begin in the legs. We call this postural tremoring. Over time the brain stem takes over, and the tremors travel throughout the body to muscles we have not fatigued. We call this neurogenic tremoring because it arises from the nervous system. These tremors take place in the muscle and fascia, which is the connective tissue holding our muscles, bones and organs in place. Neurogenic tremors are nature’s release valve!

If you’ve ever seen a dog tremble on 4th of July, or a horse shake after encountering a snake, you’ve witnessed this release valve in action. You may have even noticed your own natural tremoring response if you’ve been in a minor fender bender and found your hands shaking afterward.

When first beginning TRE®, tremors often begin in your legs or abdomen. With practice, they can eventually spread to your entire body. When you first experience it, it’s a real trip! My clients have described the feeling as vibration, bubbling like boiling water, tingling, swaying, fluttering, quivering and shaking.

Afterward you may feel less pain and anxiety and more calm and relaxed. It’s like giving yourself a massage from the inside out — and the benefits last for days! Try a TRE® class and see for yourself!

Will I Need to Re-live My Trauma?

In TRE® you do not talk about your traumatic experiences and are not asked to share or re-live them. You don’t even need to remember them! Instead, we focus on your body. Once we turn on your innate tremoring mechanism, your body can shake off trauma-induced constrictions in the muscle and fascia. Sometimes a pattern repeats in your tremoring — that’s your body’s way of trying to complete an action you may have been unable to complete in the past. Again, we don’t try to figure it out.

During our time together, I’ll guide you through the TRE® exercises and support you through your tremoring process. Sometimes an emotion associated with a stressful event may arise. I’ll help you regulate any feelings that come up by keeping you grounded in the present. We take breaks often so you never feel overwhelmed. TRE® works because we feel safe and comfortable. A lot of times we laugh and have fun!

Once you learn the exercises and feel comfortable regulating yourself emotionally during tremoring, you can use TRE® on your own. You may be surprised, though, how pleasant it feels to tremor with others.

Woman looking at childhood farm home

Where Can I Learn More about TRE®?

Skeptical about TRE®?
Hear from a Marine who says it’s working for his combat trauma.

Curious to hear how people feel after working with Dorothea?
Read these testimonials.

Want to learn more about TRE®’s founder?
Watch this interview with Dr. Berceli.
Visit Dr. Berceli’s website.

“Exercise, relax and enjoy!”
—Dr. David Berceli

Think you don’t have trauma?
Read this — if you’re a human, you’ve experienced trauma.

Need to see TRE® in action first?
Watch this video of a father gently shaking with his sleeping baby on his chest. For more vigorous tremoring, watch this video.

Ready to feel better & enjoy life more?
Tens of thousands of people in 77 countries have benefitted from TRE®. Join them by booking a session or attending a class with Dorothea today!

TRE® has not been evaluated by the US Food & Drug Administration or the American Medical Association. TRE® providers are not intending to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Medical advice must only be obtained from a physician or qualified health practitioner. Results may vary between individuals. There are no guarantees, expressed or implied.

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