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Podcast #107 - Releasing Tension and Trauma in Minutes: The TRE Solution! | David Berceli, PhD

The Science of Self-Healing Hosted by
Dr. Sharon Stills With David Berceli, PhD

About David Berceli, PhD

David Berceli, Ph.D. is an international author, presenter and trainer in the areas of trauma intervention, stress reduction, & trauma recovery training. He has lived and worked in war-torn countries and natural disaster zones around the world. He specializes in recovery with large populations. Dr. Berceli is also the creator of a revolutionary set of Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE). He is the author of three books that have been translated into 15 languages. His academic career includes a degree in Social Work (PhD), Clinical Social Work (MA), Certificate in Field Traumatology, Theology (MA), Middle Eastern Studies (MA). He is also certified as a Massage Therapist (MT), and Bioenergetic Therapist (CBT).

Resources Mentioned:

Dr. Stills Experiencing TRE
TRE logo.jpg
shake it off Naturally book.jpg
David Berceli book.jpg
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Episode Highlights with David Berceli, PhD​

  • David Berselli, PhD, is an international author, presenter, and trainer in the areas of trauma intervention, stress reduction, and trauma recovery training. He has lived and worked in war-torn countries and natural disaster zones around the world. He specializes in recovery with large populations. He's also the creator of a revolutionary set of tension and trauma releasing exercises known as TRE. He's the author of three books that have been translated into 15 languages.


  • David worked with non-profit organizations in Africa and the Middle East with people who were living in war zones, enduring political violence, or had experienced natural disasters. As a clinical therapist he was forced to look at thousands of people who were traumatized, and he realized that he would need a different approach to be effective at his job. 


  • When David was in Lebanon, a group of men were standing in the streets talking when a mortar shell went over their heads. They all instinctively covered their heads and curled up into the fetal position. David was fascinated that everyone around him did the exact same movement. He realized that the human body has a built-in mechanism which is unconscious and identical for every person around the world.


  • On a separate occasion, in a hot bomb shelter in Sudan, David noticed that all the children under the age of about ten were shivering with fear, while all of the adults controlled their shaking so that they didn’t scare the children. He was fascinated once again by the body’s natural mechanisms.


  • Upon returning to the U.S. David realized that the tremor response is a natural mammalian response to danger. Animals in the wild get it all the time, and they never get PTSD. He also discovered that tremoring could be naturally activated when the fetal response is inverted (by extending the legs apart). This is how David came up with trauma releasing exercises, TRE, as a way of releasing tension and trauma to many people at a time. 


  • David went back to the Middle East and Africa and other places around the world and started teaching TRE as a self-care technique. TRE guides the body through its ups and downs of tension and relaxation while preventing the body from going into a hyper aroused state and staying highly charged.


  • Tremoring is a natural part of the birthing process. There are a lot of doulas and midwives who are teaching women TRE so that they can prepare their body to tremor before going through the birthing process.


  • Tremoring is also a sign that the body is discharging fear and is restoring itself back to a state of aliveness.


  • Crying is another way of releasing, but some find that hard to do. David has a technique which artificially induces contractions and manually manipulates the pulsation in the chest cavity diaphragm and intercostal muscles, which will often result in restoring the ability to cry.


  • David’s TRE technique is to lay on your back on the floor with bent knees that fall open. Keep the bottom of your feet together with your knees laying open. In yoga they call that the butterfly or the frog position. Next lift your pelvis off the floor because that arches the torso and stretches the whole front of the body, which is the opposite of the fetal response. Hold that position for about a minute or so, or as long as you can handle. Then lower your pelvis back on the floor, slowly taking the time to close your knees incrementally, just half-an-inch to an inch at a time. Slightly close your knees about an inch or two and hold this position for two minutes and close them again. Wait another two minutes and close them again. which will activate that tremor mechanism. 


  • On David’s website, follow the link to go to a video on TRE. You can also buy his book which has trauma releasing exercises and pictures in the back explaining how to do it. 


  • As a culture we train ourselves how to stop organic pulsation.


  • David uses caution for some people who have physical limitations since he may have to adjust their exercises. He is also careful with people who might have experienced serious raw traumas that they haven't addressed since they might need someone to be with them to help them regulate their emotions or feel like they're contained and safe.


  • For epileptics, the number of seizures they have is often reduced after TRE sessions.


  • TRE is also beneficial for patients with multiple sclerosis.


  •  The shaking comes from what we call subcortical parts of the brain, and not the cortex where the ego resides. It originates from more primitive parts of the brain.


  • The tremor mechanism activates the nervous system to regulate and restore the body back to its most alive pulsation. 


  • Physical therapists in Finland often activate the tremor mechanism as a method of realigning joints. They move the joint (or whatever it is they are trying to help relocate), and the tremor mechanism enters the place that they're working on. While the area is tremoring,  they are able to produce a greater release rather than just forcing a joint to rotate into position.


  • David recommends TRE two or three times a week, and you can do other activities at the same time.


  • You can follow David on Instagram, Youtube, or TikTok.

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