KARACHI: Mental health is a difficult topic for people in Pakistan, due to the social stigma attached to it. Seeking therapy, consequently, remains a no-go area. For those who do wish to seek professional help, the options for therapy are limited and psychiatrists or psychologists remain unaffordable for the masses. However, one particular centre which offers a holistic approach towards treatment and aims on being accessible to the masses is Trauma Release and Wellness Centre (TRWC) in Karachi.
TRW is an organization which keeps the wellness of an individual as their ultimate goal and specifically targets trauma within people. What many of us do not understand is that a person does not need to be diagnosed with a particular mental illness to be eligible for therapy. Any person could have experienced trauma at any point in their lives and carried it with them for years without realizing it. Our bodies continue to store the traumatic memory within them even if our minds do not specifically remember it. Our bodies translate our emotional pain into physical pain and store it as tension within the body.
“I started Trauma Release and Wellness Centre (TRWC) at the start of 2020,” shared Aun Ali, an addiction and trauma therapist and the founder of TRWC. “I’ve been a therapist for the last seven years but what I felt was that there was not a specified training centre for people which specifically focused on trauma. So my intention was to look at which techniques were being used internationally, and how trauma was being treated in other countries and bring it to Pakistan.”
Ali continued, “We get clients with bipolar disorder, dissociative identity disorder, and there are a lot of roots for that sort of trauma. Our brain is divided into emotional and cognitive parts. Trauma happens when the cognitive part disconnects, so you’re functioning from the emotional side of the brain. You’ll feel emotions such as anger, shame, anxiety really high and your body will be disconnected.”
A unique technique to counter trauma and release tension from a person’s body is Tension and Trauma Release Exercise (TRE). TRWC is the first centre in Pakistan to introduce and practice the technique. TRE uses the body’s natural tremor mechanism to release trauma and tension from the body that accumulates from everyday circumstances of life, stressful situations, and/or traumatic life experiences. The exercises activate a natural reflex mechanism of shaking or vibrating that releases muscular tension, and calms down the nervous system. Team Cutacut was invited for a TRE workshop with Aun Ali and had a pleasant experience.
As we entered the centre, we were welcomed into a colourful and lively space, an ambiance which is not expected when entering a therapy centre. The TRE workshop lasted for more than an hour during which Ali introduced us to six exercises. The exercises seemed simple and ordinary at first, with most of the focus being on our breathing and a slight movement of our limbs.
However, what happened at the end of the last exercise came as a pleasant surprise. As we lay flat on our backs and our legs maintained a 90 degree angle with the ground, our bodies eventually began to tremor. As Ali instructed us to keep our eyes open and our bodies relaxed, the severity with which our lower bodies were shaking only increased. It was surprising and unexpected since there had been no movement experienced by any of us up until the sixth exercise.
TRE works well for addicts also. While TRE is not a substitute for therapy, it can be used as an added tool to provide relief for those who have trauma and tension stored in their bodies. TRE makes the process of recovery easier and helps those who perhaps do not benefit from therapy. The technique can also be beneficial for those who do not wish to seek therapy or rely on medication, or perhaps do not wish to talk about their pain.
“One of the first things which we targeted was the TRE which was really well received as a non verbal way of dealing with trauma stored in the body. Now, we are also working towards making trauma informed care much more available to all the therapists here,” explained Ali. “So I wanted to set TRWC up not just as a training centre for therapists which introduced international trainings to them but also a centre for TRE which really helps people to release the trauma stored cognitively or physiologically in their bodies and shift towards post-traumatic growth. This is a message that I really want to bring across, that post traumatic growth is possible and everyone who has gone through some sort of trauma can actually achieve that. And I wanted this centre to be a representation of post-traumatic growth.”
TRWC is also working towards launching TRE in underprivileged and hearing-impaired communities. The centre also offers Addiction Treatment Program, Trauma Release Program, and Anxiety Management Program.
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