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Trauma Release

Wiki > Psychological Conditions > Trauma > Trauma Release


A number of techniques can be used and taught to assist with releasing trauma before it starts manifesting as imbalance and disease. These include bodywork, hypnotherapy, energy work and BioFeedback. In fact, pre-emptive daily trauma releasing exercises could potentially allow for experiences to pass through one’s body and field without leaving a trauma signature in the first place. 

Belleruth Naparstek – writer of “Invisible Heroes – Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal” – has a series of guided visualisation CDs that are highly acclaimed. They were created specifically for people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and developed in close collaboration with those patients. The idea is not to engage the patients cognitively with their rational brain, as that may result in them reliving the trauma repeatedly without shifting it, but instead, engaging the creative right-brain through metaphor and installing a deep sense of safety and relaxation in the physical body. This helps the trauma to be shaken off from the cells, like animals do after being threatened and playing dead: shaking all over and then quite happily moving on.

Many other guided visualisation CDs are available, such as Barbara Brennan’s, although these are much more general in nature. Various cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy scripts would also be suitable for PTSD patients, which work on the same premise as Belleruth Naparstek’s visualisations, inducing segmental relaxation and a deep sense of safety and quiet control over one’s being.

Other techniques such as Dr David Berceli’s Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE), as shown at and described in detail in Revolutionary Trauma Release Process: Transcend Your Toughest Times, work by allowing neurogenic tremors from deep chronic muscular tension to be expressed. This can be used as a daily self-help technique to induce relaxation, in a similar way that BioFeedback techniques, facilitated with devices such as those sold by or, assist people in taking control of their sympathetic / parasympathetic nervous system balance through their breathing. Some techniques require external assistance, which may be less practical on a day-to-day basis, but the Psoas Release taught at BBSH A&P II, combined with the deep tissue massage version of it familiar to experienced bodyworkers, can also help relieve internalised trauma. The psoas major is the muscle we use to bend at the waist to assume the foetal position, a natural defensive instinct that our social conditioning teaches us to override. Much tension is therefore kept in the psoas, as we want to curl into a ball when we experience trauma, but we do not let ourselves, so the movement never comes to completion. This tension can be gradually and gently relieved through a series of mobilisations of the legs.

The following is a Statement of Personal Experience:
- from Marcus Sorensen (BHS healer, junior doctor, and this wiki article’s original author):

“I have benefited in particular from using the trauma release techniques described by Levine (1997) in “Waking the Tiger” to start working on the trauma stored in my own body from medical experiences. I usually do this when I am feeling comfortable I my bed at night: I allow myself to become aware of the movements and positions that my body wants to go into, a bit like the “open awareness” phase of Continuum sessions. The positions are sometimes quite strange and contorted, but like twisting a dishcloth to squeeze water drops out of it, the positions trigger somatic memories in my body – movements I wanted to make, but was too frozen to do at the time, or movements I did make, with traumatic consequences. I start to shake, my body temperature changes, my jaw chatters, and I start to feel waves of emotion moving through me. This is the most difficult part of the experience for me, as my mind kicks in and wants to analyse the experience so it feels less out-of-control – I fear the emotions will devastate me and never end if I let them run freely. However, if I stay with my body instead and trust that the emotions are just part of its “felt sense”, nothing that can harm me in the present, the experience of release runs through to completion. My body then slowly starts to untwist again and it feels heavy in the bed. I then feel very tired but peaceful inside, recognising I just did something life-affirming for myself, choosing movement and release over frozen death.

Before discovering this form of trauma release, my coping mechanism had been to talk or write about it, and while that helped my conscious mind make more sense of the experiences, it is only when I also allow my body to “talk” that the trauma can truly move through me, instead of becoming a part of my nervous system’s underpinnings. I am learning to trust the great wisdom of my body in healing itself.”


Other recommended reading:

  • Emotional Anatomy by Stanley Keleman: uses rich hand-drawn illustrations to show how different types of tension are held in the physical body, with links to recognisable character types taught at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing

  • Trauma and the Body by Pat Ogden, Kekuni Minton and Clare Pain: explains the devastating effects of trauma on the mind, body and brain, and introduces psychosomatic approaches to healing trauma



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