What is the TRE method?

What is the TRE method?

Coming straight from the United States, the TRE® (Tension Releasing Exercises) method is particularly intended for people suffering from post-traumatic stress. It aims to release physical and emotional tensions through specific exercises. Explanations.

Over the course of a human life, the risk of suffering a trauma (small or large) is not negligible: physical aggression, emotional shock, natural disaster, armed conflict, attack… Traumas can be varied. To rebuild yourself after a trauma or get out of a state of post-traumatic stress, many techniques exist. Some emphasize the freedom of speech or the expression of emotions. More rare, techniques based on the regulation of the nervous system, through bodily exercises, deserve our full attention here.

A recognized trainer in the management of post-traumatic stress, David Berceli has worked for many years with victims of war, conflicts or natural disasters. Drawing on his wealth of experience working with various audiences, around thirty years ago he developed a technique that he called the TRE® method (Trauma Releasing Exercises). The key ? His technique is based on the innate capacity of mammals to self-regulate after stress or traumatic shock. “It was by observing the reaction of mammals victims of shock that the trainer designed his method. He actually noticed that to release their internal tensions, the animals would begin to tremble for a few minutes, or even several hours, before naturally regaining their balance.underlines Caroline Lagardère, certified practitioner based near Nantes.

Shake to release stress and tension

Trembling allows you to release excessive tension and quickly return to a level of relaxation. “This archaic natural process, which humans have forgotten, results instead in muscular contractions, particularly in the psoas muscle, thus causing a disconnect between body and mind. explains Caroline Lagardère. Manifestations of post-traumatic stress persist and can be expressed through a multitude of symptoms: sleep disorders, digestive problems, lower back pain, jaw contractions, migraines, dermatological problems, etc. If practicing an activity sports can certainly cause relaxation, it only allows partial relaxation of the superficial muscles, without being able to replace the method according to David Berceli.

The TRE® method therefore aims to reconnect with this natural biological mechanism for regulating the state of internal stress. The TRE® method is intended for all adults and does not replace medical treatment. There are some contraindications to the practice (recent hospitalization, heart disorder, psychiatric illness, etc.). Seek advice from a certified practitioner before following a session.

Seven specific exercises to promote tremors

David Berceli, has developed seven exercises (six of them are practiced in a standing position, one in a lying position) to put the body in condition to promote “neurogenic muscle tremors”. Simple and suitable for everyone, these exercises are practiced in flexible clothing. It is not necessary to have a large space for practice. “Once the tremors are triggered, we let the process happen without intervening, while remaining attentive to our sensations,” continues the practitioner. Emphasis is placed on respecting physical and emotional boundaries. “At any time, the person is invited to stop the exercises if they feel the need. To stop the tremor process, simply lie on your back and stretch your legs”, explains Caroline Lagardère. After the tremor phase, the session continues with a time of rest, integration, then discussion with the practitioner.

If support is necessary during the first TRE® sessions, the notion of autonomy is particularly important in this approach. After a few sessions, the person is able to reproduce the exercises alone and master the technique. The TRE® method can be practiced in isolation or in addition to psychological care. “The recommended frequency is around once or twice a week, everyone can find their own rhythm.” Depending on the day and each person’s mood, the exercises can have a relaxing or energizing effect. “Some people may react with laughter or sobs, while others will find peace, grounding and a feeling of inner security., says Caroline Lagardère. David Berceli also recommends integrating exercises before or after a physical activity session.

A method adapted to different audiences

If the TRE® method is primarily aimed at all people who have suffered significant stress or violent traumatic shock, it can also be of interest to caregivers and all people likely to find themselves confronted with a form of compassion fatigue, through dint of listen to the painful stories of the people they support.

This wear and tear can notably result in a form of physical exhaustion and/or emotional anesthesia, which is sometimes difficult to overcome.

Therapists, social workers, medical personnel and other psychologists are therefore also among the audiences targeted by David Berceli’s method. In addition, for this trainer, being continually exposed to stories of various disasters (this is the case when listening to the news on repeat, for example), can also represent a form of indirect trauma.


Bénédicte, 44 years old, therapist in the Nantes region

Based as a kinesiologist in the Nantes region, I was looking for a method to help me regulate the emotional excess that I can accumulate during my consultations. So I wanted to discover this approach. I did not observe any tremors during the first session. It was really during the second session that I was able to fully experience the method. For me, it’s an excellent way to find my grounding, to leave the mind and return fully to my bodily sensations. I got into the habit of practicing the TRE® method exercises once a week“.