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TRE: Tension/Trauma Release Exercise

Reduce Stress & Increase Vitality with TRE

TRE stands for Tension or Trauma Release Exercises. People practice TRE as a body-based method for cultivating embodiment, grounding, and flow, and for exercise recovery, stress-reduction and self-healing. This practice works with your mind-body connection (your muscles, connective tissue, and your nervous system) to complete stress responses, discharge pent-up energy, and to rebalance or soften excess tension. You may have heard that Yoga is for trauma release, but this is something a little different!

To practice TRE, you'll move through seven exercises that lead to neurogenic tremors: the innate vibration or shaking that is our bodies’ way of completing the stress-response cycle. When we work with our shaking mechanism, we are resonating with our inner aliveness and letting go of unnecessary patterns of holding in our bodies. You'll learn to experience these tremors as a natural capacity, and to regulate them for optimal outcomes.

On this page, you'll find the following information in this order:

  1. Appointment types and fees

  2. Booking and preparing for a session

  3. FAQs about TRE

  4. More about Leslie Stokman, Certified TRE Provider

APPOINTMENT TYPES AND FEES

Purpose:
If you have questions that aren't answered in the FAQ below, aren't sure if TRE is right for you, or just want to get a feeling for me as a person, a Meet & Greet is the perfect place to start.

Fees:
none :)

Purpose:
The main purpose of the initial session is to try out TRE and get a sense of what it is. We'll begin by going over your intake form, and then discuss your personal goals for trying TRE. I’ll work with you to build a shared understanding of what TRE is and could do for you. From there I'll guide you through the exercises and the tremoring process. We'll finish with a debrief and have lots of time for your questions.

Fees:

  • Standard Rate . . . $100

  • Supporter Rate . . . $125

  • Subsidized Rate . . $75

Purpose:
If you wish to explore TRE more deeply, or to establish a longterm TRE practice, this three-session bundle is a great option to follow your initial session. When you sign-up for a three-pack of follow-up appointments, I'll share a home practice guide and learning modules to enrich your understanding of the human nervous system and TRE.

We'll work together create a deeper understanding of the exercises, how they feel in your body, what it means to self-regulate, and develop a more subtle awareness of how your tremor mechanism impacts your system. Depending on your needs, we'll also have the opportunity to explore some self- and non-touch interventions to broaden and deepen your tremors.

Fees:

  • Standard Rate . . . . $240 ($80/session)

  • Supporter Rate . . . $285 ($95/session)

  • Subsidized Rate . . . $195 ($65/session)

Purpose:
Single appointments are great if you already have an established self-practice, and you:

- feel stuck in a pattern of tremoring that isn't shifting on its own

- are looking to explore subtler and deeper ways of engaging their tremor mechanism

- have some big questions they want to discuss and explore

- want to have space held for them and be witnessed and supported while delving into their process

- need a refresher on the exercises

Fees:

  • Standard Rate . . . $90

  • Supporter Rate . . . $110

  • Subsidized Rate . . . $70

If you are unsure what you should pay, use this helpful guide to figure out where you fit in the bigger picture.

If you mostly fit the description on the left, please consider paying the Supporter Rate. Each time someone pays the Supporter rate, it allows for someone else (who is experiencing financial hardship due to un/underemployment or low income) to access these services at a more accessible rate.

Check out this guide.

BOOKING A SESSION

I offer virtual 1-on-1 sessions on Thursdays between 10:00am and 4:00pm.

Note: I understand that my limited availability might be challenging for you to make work with your schedule. At this point in my multiple-hat-wearing role at QSY, I can either not offer TRE at all, or offer it within these strong boundaries. I sincerely hope to open up greater availability in the future, but it's not clear when that will be.

Get ready for your session with these checklists:

We'll be able to make the most of our time if we're both ready. I'll prepare by reviewing your intake form and notes from any of our previous sessions. I'll also send you a secure zoom meeting invitation. Please double check that you are all set with the two checklists below.

  1. Did you fill out this intake form?

  2. Did you watch this video introduction?

  3. Did you pre-pay here for your session? You will need to sign in or create an account with MindBody Online.

  1. Did you set up your space & tech? Use this document for important guidelines. You will need a computer with a webcam and microphone, or a tablet.

  2. Did you gather your equipment? Start with a yoga mat and a blanket. Carpet floor is fine if you don't have a mat.

  3. Did you dress for comfort? Lounge or exercise clothing that's easy for you to move in is best. I also recommend layers in order to stay comfortable as your body temperature fluctuates during exercise and rest.

Add a session on to your account

PREPAY HERE

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

TRE was developed by Dr. David Berceli, who before TRE, worked in conflict resolution and trauma recovery. He is educated in social work and massage therapy, and spent his career working in high conflict areas.

While he was working in a community caught in a civil war, and sheltering in a bomb shelter with several families, David noticed that children would spontaneously shake after the danger of the bombing had passed. In discussion with the other adults, he realized they all had the urge to shake, but were holding it in. It dawned on him that the shaking might have a supportive function, and this noticing was what eventually led to the practice of TRE.

A Certified TRE Provider serves as an educator, guide, and steward of the safe container in which you can encounter and experience your tremor mechanism. I see my role as providing sufficient instruction and information to empower you to take ownership of the practice of TRE, including teaching you the seven activating exercises that bring about the tremors.

I am delighted to answer questions, provide context about the human stress response and nervous system, and generally nerd out about self awareness. I also aim to guide you to increasingly subtle awareness of your sensations and thoughts, and a more consistent sense of presence and grounding within your body.

If you were to purchase one of David Berceli’s books, DVDs, or the TRE smartphone app, you would be able to learn TRE on your own. Many individuals choose this approach, and it reflects how I began my TRE journey. That said, the times that I’ve been privileged to a session of tremoring with a provider have been some of the best ones. Why?

The presence of another person whose nervous system is calm and grounded provides a safe connection with which to interact, and a safe container within which to release tension and stress. My own personal TRE practice, and the extent to which I access calm, presence and grounding is part of what I offer each individual in every session.

David Berceli synthesized existing research on trauma, and incorporated movements from Yoga and Bioenergetics to create the TRE exercises.

The exercises do have intrinsic value, but they are also a means to bringing about the very same tremors he witnessed in himself and others. The exercises are intended to cultivate awareness of your body and energy, and to gently fatigue or stress certain muscles - including the psoas - after which participants relax into a position where neurogenic tremors are freed up to arise.

While the exercises will eventually become optional, some people will find that doing all of the exercises is necessary for the first several sessions.

The tremor mechanism is something completely natural to all mammals. You might have noticed your dog trembling after getting spooked or nervous. Other mammals and birds tremor naturally after stressful or traumatic events (next time a bird knocks itself out flying into a window, stick around and see what happens).

TRE is a reliable process for bringing about this automatic, self-induced, therapeutic mechanism in your body. It also teaches us to regulate. The shaking is named neurogenic tremors to distinguish it from pathological (disease-related) tremors found in conditions like Parkinson’s or epilepsy. The movement itself can look/feel like shaking, vibrating, fluttering, shimmying, buzzing, tingling or wave-like movements.

Many adults have forgotten about or suppressed this intrinsic ability, but some can recall times when they themselves have felt like their body was shaking uncontrollably during or after a stressful, emotional or traumatic experience, or even just when feeling really excited or nervous. In the wake of a car accident, giving birth, public speaking and new sexual encounters are just a few times when people recall an experience of tremoring.

Our capacity to move energy through our bodies is not limited to the circumstances noted above. Many cultures and wisdom traditions from around the world and throughout time have made meaning and use of this feature of our humanity.

To understand TRE, we have to back up and explore the nervous system from the lens of the polyvagal theory a little bit.

When faced with a real or perceived threat or danger, our nervous system picks a response: fight, flight, freeze or shutdown. When our nervous system chooses the freeze or shutdown response, or when our efforts to fight or flee are thwarted, either because of social norms (like, “Don’t punch your coworker,”) or physical restraint (like being trapped in a car with your seatbelt on while going through a traffic accident), it means our bodies have marshalled a whole bunch of energy and neurotransmitters/hormones (including the ones that get a bad rep like cortisol), but didn’t get to do anything with them.

Activation without action, or energizing without release, is where stress adds up and where symptoms of a traumatic reaction can originate. Our bodies hold onto this pent-up energy, the remnants of our stress response. The newest work from the field of traumatology and the relationship between emotion, stress and disease tends to produce book titles with this theme: The Body Keeps the Score (Bessel Van Der Kolk), The Body Remembers, and When the Body Says No are a few popular examples. Imagining all the interpersonal conflicts, stressful days at work and life-changing losses we’ve endured, it can be a little alarming to think of what our bodies are holding onto.

If you freeze, or are unable to fight or run away, the way to move through this pent-up stress is to tremor! This is a completely healthy and purposeful reaction: the shaking, vibration or tremoring completes the cycle of activation and allows your body and nervous system to return to, or get closer to its baseline. You can watch an impala do it here. The only sad part is that most so-called “modern” societies have either forgotten about it, or dismissed it as a sign of weakness. When you learn to engage with this process in a safe way, you can give your body and nervous system the gift of release and healing.

Like meditation and Yoga, TRE is a practice that is simple on the surface, but offers a depth of experience that continues to expand as you practice over the long term.

Most folks can start with a few times per week. With self reflection and guidance, you might find more or less frequent sessions gives you optimal results. TRE can be a life-long process to discover new depths of peace, grounding and inner freedom.

Tremoring one-on-one with a provider, in a group with a provider, all by yourself, or with friends and family all offer different opportunities and challenges. Group sessions are great for many people, and offer the opportunity to hear from other practitioners about their experiences with TRE, which can be quite variable.

Individual sessions are wonderful when:

  • you would like space held, attention given, a container created just for you

  • you are in the thick of your healing journey

  • have fairly prominent physical challenges

  • feel a little too vulnerable to tremor within a group or circle

  • realize that you want to explore a deepening of your tremor mechanism through self- and non-touch intervention

In-person and group sessions are currently on pause.

My work falls under the category of "personal services," which means that during the pandemic, I will be following Ontario's guidelines for reopening. When personal services are permitted to open again, we will discuss any current mask, ventilation and distancing measures in advance to ensure each of our safety and comfort.

Working through a screen creates conditions that, in my opinion, do not support the best experience of group TRE. In-person group sessions will resume when it is possible to do so.

Last updated: April 2021

TRE is accessible to the vast majority of the population, and is appropriate if you have any amount of physical, mental or emotional stress in your life. Many folks use TRE as a complementary practice alongside traditional therapy. Others use it as a recovery tool to maximize performance in sport. It can be especially valuable to manage and ameliorate chronic stress or chronic tension.

There are a few situations where caution is appropriate, and a few contraindications. If you have had any abdominal surgery in the last three months, please wait until that healing period has passed before beginning TRE. Additionally, a few psychiatric conditions present challenges that are outside my scope of practice.

If you are feeling unsure, please fill out an intake form and send me an email at leslie@thebranchesyoga.com to set up a Meet & Greet and inquire further.

The international, not-for-profit organization started by Dr. David Berceli has its online home here at traumaprevention.com

Another great resource for finding additional TRE workshops, plus an excellent FAQs section is the TRE Canada website.

ABOUT LESLIE STOKMAN, CERTIFIED TRE PROVIDER

My personal TRE practice

In the icy winter of 2015-2016, I took a google deep dive into nervous system healing that started with the search term “vagal tone.” Somewhere in there, I came across a few videos of people shaking on the floor and my curiosity was piqued. Thank heavens for the internet, because that initial curiosity led me to discover the healing potential of my own body, revealed by TRE.

My practice started that winter and has been a profoundly impactful influence on my body and psyche. Physical tensions I’d been living with for as long as I could remember began to softly melt away, making daily movement (not to mention my yoga practice) a lot more comfortable and easeful. Even better, I’ve increased my sense of grounding and ability to access a calm and balanced mind, leading to more resilience, and an easier time relating to and connecting with others personally and professionally.

Becoming a Certified Provider

A couple of years into my personal practice, I stumbled upon the amazing news that a certification training was going to become available to me, right here in Ontario. I can’t stress enough how grateful I am for that opportunity. Upon certification in June 2019, I immediately followed up with an advanced provider training, and hope to do many more throughout my career. I completed a second Advanced training in February 2021.

Through my training I have learned that in other countries, TRE is recognized by the healthcare and insurance systems in the same way that massage therapy is here in Canada. In some places, TRE is practiced in classrooms, students and teachers alike!

Alongside my specific TRE training, I bring additional knowledge and experience to each session from my background as an educator, Yoga instructor, and mobility specialist. I am also indebted to the Ontario Vipassana Centre for teaching me to meditate in a way that has been so supportive to my TRE journey, both as a practitioner and provider.

I believe TRE has the potential and importance to become a household name across Canada. My vision is for The Branches and the wider Kitchener-Waterloo communities to get shaking, thereby accessing a deeper peace and freedom within than we could ever have imagined.