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Considerations for Trauma Treatments


Fireweed3 is seeking guidance in choosing treatment methods to address underlying trauma. What are the best resources for helping Loved Ones to process trauma, as a complement to addiction treatment/ recovery?

A well-respected addictions counselor in my city emphasizes the importance of accessing treatment for underlying trauma in conjunction with (or immediately following) a residential program for substance use. Specifically, he suggests Tension & Trauma Release Exercises (or TRE®).

I have located some TRE practitioners in my area, but before I start calling, I want to know if any of you have loved ones who benefited from the intervention. I'm also looking into yoga classes that are designed to address trauma. Basically exploring anything that helps people move trauma through their bodies. I'm pretty well-versed in trauma-informed practices (as it relates to my work) but lacking knowledge of trauma-responsive practices/interventions that complement addiction treatment/recovery. Learning curve.

Anyway, please let me know if you or your loved one has experience with TRE and/or similar interventions.

Thank you!

TRE (Tension & Trauma Release Exercises), the innovation of David Berceli, is one of a number of interventions developed to address trauma in the body. I have met and done a training with Dr. Berceli and find him and his approach useful. I did a second – longer – training where I used it myself and then passed it on to a few clients, but I didn’t have any  magic bullet outcomes. Some swear by it, and I think when it comes to trauma there is a broad range of approaches that work.

To understand outcomes from therapy, it is critical to understand the contextual model and its findings. In his book The Great Psychotherapy Debate, Bruce Wampold states "There appears to be little evidence to suggest that one treatment for PTSD is superior to any other.” (Wampold 146) Large reviews of various trauma interventions, including EMDR, have found little difference in outcomes. I believe if TRE was thrown into the mix the findings would be the same. That is not to say that TRE is not useful for some people, I think it is. But the active ingredient of the approach – the shaking – may be overrated just like the eye movements may be  overrated in EMDR.

The  effectiveness of this practice may have more to do with the person teaching the approach, and/or the patient's expectations of whether it will work or not. There is little reason not to try it, but know that trauma in general requires some degree of healing through relationship. Another key factor to consider, and something that often gets missed in therapy, is the need to first assess attachment style before treating trauma. If the client exhibits a version of the insecure attachment style, that should be treated prior to treating the trauma. For an in-depth discussion of attachment disorders, see Attachment Disturbances in Adults by Dan Brown.

In your quest for a modality to address trauma, the above factors are all important to consider. Since a broad range of approaches may prove successful, you may want to encompass factors such as the professional reputation of the practitioner and the openness of your Loved One to the treatment approach. I wish you the best of luck.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. How do you get someone to go to detox and rehab that flatly refuses. He said it doesn’t help. I asked him what would help and he said a job. He has been home for a month now and hasn’t applied for even one job. I explained to him he needs to apply for jobs and may have to apply for several and his answer was all my friends parents helped him get a job. That is just an excuse for not pursuing anything. I just feel he really doesn’t want help. He just wants to be drunk all the time. I am at my wits end. I don’t want to go to courts anymore, 10-15 years of that is enough. I have no support, his father has never been involved in any of this and my family won’t even speak to me. I really believe this son is a lost cause.

    1. Your son is back from jail and living at home. From what you write he is drinking but has not yet relapsed back to opiates. Your son says he wants a job but does very little to get one. I am sorry that this is happening. I suspect that a job would mean money in your son’s pocket and further relapse. He has bucked all efforts to get his addiction treated.

      So, of course, you are at your wits’ end. You want to know how to get him into treatment. That is the right question. The answer is CRAFT. It is a process. The details of CRAFT, walking you through this process, are in the Learning Modules. It takes a willingness to apply the CRAFT method, and plenty of patience. Both of these you may have in short supply, given how long this has been going on with your son. Read Dominique Simon-Levine’s full response here: