Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS TRE®? TRE® IN 100 WORDS
TRE®, Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises, are a simple set of exercises that trigger a natural tremor reflex in the body.
Shaking can release long-held tension patterns and promote new feelings of connection and ease.
Shaking is a novel stimulus to the central nervous system. New stimuli, approached with safety and curiosity, can support learning and growth.
The psychology of trauma is complex, the physiology is relatively simple. In trauma old parts of the brain are fixed in defence cascades of ‘fight-or-flight’ or ‘freeze’.
TRE® is a safe, natural process to re-boot overprotective reflexes.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I DO TRE SELF PRACTICE?
Go slowly at the start. Learn how your body responds to the tremors. Shaking 3 times a week is a strong practice, probably no more than 10 to 15 minutes shaking after the exercises if you are new to TRE.
You can gradually build up as you feel more confident – longer periods of shaking and more often. Some people shake every day for many weeks, some people find it works fine for them just once a week or after a stressful event.
TRE is self regulating tool. Experiment to find the dose and pace that works for you.
Most people can learn the framework and skills in one or two sessions or groups. To develop a strong practice we find it is beneficial to attend a course of 6 or more sessions or groups. The extra support in facilitated sessions or groups helps to really develop skill and confidence when interacting with the tremors.
DO I NEED TO DO THE WHOLE EXERCISE SEQUENCE?
We recommend using the whole sequence the first 10 times you do TRE self practice. The sequence is very robust and has been road tested on hundreds of thousands of people. It will gently and safely lead you in to the tremors.
The sequence of exercises helps ground you in your body as well as tiring out pelvic muscles so they can start shaking.
The exercises are a tool to help you shake. The shaking is the magic part of TRE where self healing occurs. Overtime you will learn to let go and allow the tremors with out needing all the exercises. For many experienced shakers it is enough to lie down and do the floor exercises to initiate the tremors.
You may even notice times in the day (after running for the bus?) where you could let your self shake and discharge some tension. Play with the shakes, its your body!
HELP, I FEEL WORSE AFTER I SHAKE.
Sometimes after we shake the sensations in our bodies can feel more intense. This can be scary. Sometimes we need to rest and really focus on being grounded. If you feel worse after more than 48 hours and the intensity is more than 6 out of 10, you have almost certainly done too much. Its not that the shaking is bad, but that there may have been too much change too quickly.
Often the answer is to shake again, but halve the amount of time you actually tremor. Most people who feel worse initially on doing TRE, probably dived in too deep, too quick. Slowly is the best way of working with trauma, work in small manageable chunks.
Use a timer to help you regulate. Even 5 minutes can be a long time when you are learning or if you have been in a really difficult space. For some people even 1 minute might be enough.
If anything feels as though it is going too quick, or you feel as though you are dreamy and floaty and ungrounded, stop tremoring. Put the brakes on by letting you legs go flat and roll on to your side.
If reconnecting to safety and ease is too much on your own, interact with safe, other people and reach out to your TRE Provider to learn some tools to help down-relegate and re-ground yourself. Try the principles listed here https://trecollege.com/orient-move-ground/
Try these resources to help find safety when you shake. ‘Finding Safety’ – a pdf with lots of tips on how to feel your body: http://bit.ly/body-college-safety
Check this short, fun animated video on how to ‘Wake Up Your Body’: https://vimeo.com/259460759
WHAT ARE THE LIMITS OF TRE?
TRE® is simple and powerful. For many people, even with a complex trauma history, not talking, just shaking, coming into their body, working on their own, or in anonymity of a group, is life changing. These limits can also be hard for some people; they may benefit from finding a community, social justice measures, appropriate medication, ongoing one-to-one talking therapeutic support. In these cases TRE works best as part of a package of care.
No one knows how to treat trauma successfully for all clients. We do not claim TRE is cure for all people. Nothing works all the time for everybody, this is the same for any intervention. Treating trauma is complex and evidence is unclear. TRE has some limited research, very good theory, lots of anecdotal evidence and passionate advocates.
Current trends in western medicine of working with trauma are based on finding better medications to dampen down body responses (eg beta blockers and anti-psychotics etc) or CBT as the gold standard therapeutic intervention (e.g. NICE UK ). The evidence base for CBT is mixed at best. Most trauma theorists are focused on some form of graded exposure to intense sensations and teaching emotional regulation. The better ones appreciate emotions emerge from the body.
There is excellent theory and very good developing evidence about changing primitive reflexes. Using shaking to prevent getting stuck in protective reflexes is the core of the TRE model. There are a number of exciting modalities trying to find the best ways of down-regulating over protective reflexes via embodiment (e.g. EMDR, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction MBSR, body based psychotherapy approaches and other ‘trauma informed’ embodiment approaches). The goal is changing the body in the first instance; not starting with the mind and focusing on cognitive understanding and tools.
Some of the talking treatments for trauma that have been researched do not come out very well in some long term studies. (For example brief intervention therapies , talking treatments and research on talking treatments post 9-11 in USA was not supportive). It is hard working with trauma, particularly if people are dissociated. Dissociation and supporting embodiment are massively under appreciated in most therapeutic approaches.
A great metaphor for how TRE works is ‘waking your body up’. We don’t just shake to release, we also shake to connect. It is often very effective to frame shaking as a process that safely generates new feelings of connection, helping us find sensations that are inherently anti-dissociative.
WHAT ARE THE LIMITS OF TRE? DISCLAIMER
TRE® has not been evaluated by the US Food & Drug Administration or the American Medical Association or NICE in the UK.
This technology is not intended 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.