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Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) Podcast: Episode 27 – Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE®) and Polyvagal Theory

Courtesy of the Safe & Sound Protocol Podcast and iLs Australia

In this episode of the Safe and Sound Protocol Podcast, host Joanne McIntyre speaks with physiotherapist Richmond Heath about Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE®) and its connection to Polyvagal Theory.

Richmond is the Executive Director of Trauma Release Australia, a Level 3 TRE® trainer, and was responsible for bringing Dr. David Berceli and TRE® to Australia in 2011.

Richmond also holds an advanced diploma of Aboriginal studies, is a qualified Bowen therapist, teaches Clinical Pilates, and has a diverse background in both public and private health sectors, including youth, community, mental and indigenous health. Richmond coordinates the professional training and supervision of TRE® trainers in Australia, providing workshops and training for groups, corporations, organizations and local regions around Australia and Asia Pacific.

“As you will hear, the theoretical premise of TRE is very much embedded in Polyvagal Theory,” Joanne says. “In our journey as practitioners, we know that we need a variety of tools to draw from, as every nervous system we support is unique. SSP practitioners who incorporate TRE have shared with me they find an integrated approach critical to help resource the nervous system.”

Key Topics Discussed in This Episode

  1. Coming down the curve: Allowing our bodily systems to restore themselves to their natural variable, flexible pulsation and movement
  2. Dr. Stephen Porges’ summary of the spontaneous movements invoked with TRE®:
    • Tension (or collapse) in the body is a defensive response.
    • TRE is a neural exercise of convincing the body to trust gravity and let go of its habituated defensive responses.
    • TRE is getting the body to give up its self-protection so its rhythms can return, and then it can retune defensive patterns in the musculoskeletal structure.
  3. Movement being external movement (body movement through space) and internal movement (pulsation and variability within all the systems of the body)
  4. Polyvagal Theory and three categories of movement:
    • Calm, curious and connected movement (ventral vagal state)
    • Compulsive movement toward and away (sympathetic state)
    • Contained (hypertonic mobilization), collapsed (hypotonic immobilization) and disconnected movement (dorsal vagal state)
  5. Discharging emotional energy and memories in the body, reducing chronic body and mental tension, and developing a different relationship with your body
  6. Associating defensive states with a process of disembodiment; with any level of stress, we are subtly beginning to lose connection with our body
  7. The process of re-embodiment as a subcortical phenomenon ultimately being controlled and limited by the nervous system, not cognition

Continue reading: Neuromodulation using computer-altered music to treat 10-year-old unresponsive to standard interventions for FND

Published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry and co-authored by Dr. Stephen Porges and an expert medical and research team, this case study provides insight into the mechanism and impact of the SSP, specifically on a 10-year-old with FND who saw significant improvements from the SSP.

About the Host Joanne McIntyre

Joanne McIntyre is an Occupational Therapist with over 30 years of clinical experience. She completed her Master’s of Science, majoring in psychology, while residing in the U.S. for 23 years, during which she founded a therapy practice including speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists and psychologists, in addition to being an instructor for Integrated Listening Systems.

Joanne pursued specialty training in various clinical interventions and treatment programs that identify and address the underlying neurological causes of state regulation, learning and behavior, versus focusing on symptomology. Her training included Board Certification in Neurofeedback and Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback training, Neurodevelopmental (NDT), SIPT Certification, Interactive Metronome and Advanced iLs Pro training, EMDR, and Intro IFS training.

Joanne returned to Australia in 2015 and is Clinical Director of Integrated Listening Australia, providing practitioner training and clinical support to clinicians and families in the SSP, Focus System, Pro-System and iom2. Joanne commenced Ph.D. studies at La Trobe University within the School of Psychology and Public Health, investigating the neurobehavioral underpinnings of the Safe and Sound Protocol intervention developed by Dr. Stephen Porges, supported by the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC).

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