TRE – Tension Release Exercises


TRE Australia website offers professional explanations about these exercises that are based on the brain’s function of creating ‘neurogenic tremors’ to discharge excess tension after traumatic events. This ability to switch on neurogenic tremors is harnessed in the service of releasing the stored nervous energy associated with traumatic memory.

Details and some YouTube clips:

I have checked out this technique in person, attending an afternoon workshop. I was deeply impressed by the effectiveness of allowing the body to tremor naturally. It left me feeling more relaxed than I could remember feeling at any time before. It is a purely physiological technique and quite natural. For someone who is struggling with traumatic memory, it is very safe, because the system doesn’t require any talk at all of psychological or traumatic details.

TRE Australia offers regular workshops in Melbourne.


Why I have added this intervention to van der Kolk’s list


As promised, I’ll explain why. Van der Kolk’s presentation cited neurofeedback and yoga/mindfulness meditation as physiological therapeutic systems that were shown to reduce stress levels, tension and anxiety.  He did not present them as being psychotherapeutic, they didn’t require any discussion of trauma details. Whereas EMDR, Internal Family Systems and Psychodrama all require some overt processing of autobiographical experience.

Trauma Release Exercises (or Tension Release Exercises) falls into the physiological category with neurofeedback and yoga/mindfulness. The general system of tension discharge is supported by Peter Levine’s book Taming the Tiger, which acknowledges the neurogenic nature of the shaking/trembling response. (The term ‘neurogenic’ refers to the fact that while the trembling response can be initiated artificially by the TRE exercises, in a localised area, say the legs, at a certain point the brain is triggered and the trembling is generated by the brain and can be experienced in whatever part of the body the tension is being held.)

I recommend this intervention to anyone who suffers from traumatic tension and anxiety. Unlike neurofeedback, the exercises, once learnt, can be done privately at home for no cost.


2 thoughts on “TRE – Tension Release Exercises”

  1. I did wonder why TRE was not included in Van Der Kolk’s book ‘The Body Keeps The Score’ (Originally published: 2014 – maybe it was too new to be included).


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