This is the story of how a follow-up ended up becoming the first of its kind. Back in the fall of 2015, TRE LA was contracted by a large community behavioral health organization to design and run an onsite resilience-building program for clinical, administrative, and support staff in one company division. We put together a 10-week program centered around Tension Release Exercises (TRE). And we wanted a strong evaluative component to measure how the program affected staff stress, burnout, and vicarious trauma. The results were statistically significant and so positive overall that we were hired to work with more staff across several divisions.

So, in April, 2016, we undertook the first-ever replication study of TRE. Could we work with all new staff, using the same program design, and achieve the same results? The short answer is “Yes, we can!” Once more, stress, burnout, and vicarious trauma all decreased at statistically significant levels (see Table 1).

Table 1. Variables measured by Perceived Stress Scale 10 and Professional Quality of Life Scale 5. Sig. codes: *** 0.001, ** 0.01, * 0.05


Burnout and vicarious trauma both fell by 9%. Stress dropped 23% below baseline measurements, compared to 27% in the fall group. This brought average staff stress levels well below national norms (see Figure 1).

SBHG Spring 2016 PS

Figure 1. Perceived stress measured by Perceived Stress Scale 5.

In qualitative feedback, participants described TRE as a relaxing experience that improved self-awareness, decreased physical pain, and improved capacity to meet professional demands. They enjoyed the emphasis on self-care, especially in the workplace. In their own words: “When I use TRE, I feel much more relaxed, especially when I’m under stress.” “I’m able to concentrate and finish paperwork more quickly than before.” “We really need TRE in our profession.”

During this period, we also facilitated a small practice group for participants from the fall program. While a sample of 11 is not big enough for statistical analysis, we saw some exciting positive trends: a 38% reduction in stress, 25% reduction in burnout, and 22% reduction in vicarious trauma compared to the baseline assessment. This hints that long-term facilitated TRE practice produces significant change in workplace wellbeing.

Furthermore, the presence of a substantial TRE program in the workplace produced increased engagement over time, with rising rates of attendance, self-practice, and requests for more programs in more locations. Concurrent individual change makes for collective impact. As one participant stated, the most important part of the program was seeing “how TRE is impacting the work force at my place of employment and that my colleagues are experiencing the benefits.”

We are excited to start a third program in late August for the same organization. We’ll have more data to share in the late fall. In the meantime, we’re busy customizing wellness programs for new clients, turning repeat performances into new beginnings.

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