Results of an Introductory TRE® Course for Staff of Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison in Cape Town

Presentation and demonstration with Correctional Services Psychologists

Following a request by Emily Mokoena of Cape Town Correctional Services, TRE ® Advanced Providers Manuela Kacinari Wall and Christine Cornick ran a pro-bono TRE® introductory presentation and TRE® session for 16 Psychologists from Correctional Services South Africa in October 2017. The participants immediately felt the effects of TRE® and unanimously confirmed how valuable TRE® could be as a modality to support staff and inmates in Pollsmoor.  

Introductory TRE® Course

From February-April 2018 a six-week course was planned and held for a group of staff members, sponsored by TRE® for Africa. A questionnaire was developed for participants to complete at the start and end of the 6-week course, and interviews were held each week before and after the session to monitor evidence of changes and shifts experienced by the participants.  

Unfortunately attendance levels were poor and irregular due to a variety of issues including shift work timetables that meant people were not available, sickness, holidays, and work pressures and meetings.

However, all participants gave positive feedback regarding their experience. Some quotes from participants are given below. Video interviews were also conducted.

My knees used to be very painful but they are not anymore.

It makes me more active and healthier. My mind feels more positive. If there is a challenge I don’t stress anymore, especially in the place I’m working. Everyone depends on me. Everyone is being sorted out. I’m security – I need this.

I felt the need to be here. I feel so calm and relaxed. 3am I was awake but now I sleep and I’m so calm. I used to react but not anymore.

I feel energetic and light. I don’t suffer with problems sleeping now. My stress levels are so calm and I can face anything that comes at me. I’m doing it on my own now.

I sleep more and fall asleep earlier. When I used to wake up I would rush, but now I take my time. I feel lighter and I’m going to try to do it at home now!

I felt like I was releasing today. It is like a healing of the soul and the body from top to toe. I can still feel it.

I’m so relaxed I don’t know how to thank you for what you are doing for us. When I came my body was so full of tension but now I feel as if I want to sleep until tomorrow!

I had back pain when I arrived but now it’s gone.

Since my first session my sleeping has been better. I notice the difference in my relationship with my wife. I didn’t sleep well when I missed a session, but she is sleeping like a baby because she’s been coming!

I’m not shouting at my husband any more. My aunt told me she can see outward changes in me.

I go home and sleep as if I’ve taken tablets. Then I feel great. I’m handling my stresses. Everything is easy for me now. I can clap my hands for this – I used to always be tired but I’m no more tired.

I have had no anger this week, and I’ve started running again.

I used to be so tired and sleep as soon as I got home but now I have better sleep and feel relaxed when I get home. My husband likes to drink and I used to shout at him but now I leave him to it and I’m not stressing.

I have a calmness. I used to react quickly in a situation but now I can handle it better, and my back pain is gone. I’m looking after my health better and I feel more calm in everything I’m doing.

Completion of the course

Feedback from three participants at the completion of the programme is below, two of whom had completed 5 sessions, and one participant 3 sessions.

Have you noticed any differences in your body as a result of doing TRE® ?
If so, please explain and give examples.

Yes. Easier to deal with people and can control my anger. My body feels so light and energetic”.

Yes I am more relaxed. I sleep better. I am calmer talking to my children and more understanding.

Yes. I am more active at home and at work. I am feeling stress free and active. I am just feeling good in my body.

Have you noticed any differences in your mind / mood as a result of doing TRE® ? If yes, please explain and give examples.

Yes. Since I attended TRE®  I’m well focused and make better solutions.

I have become much more patient especially at home with my children. I am able to talk out as to how I feel, and express myself.

Yes. I used to forget things where I had placed it, but now I can remember everything, even small things.

Do you think TRE® would be valuable for other staff members and inmates at Pollsmoor Prison? If yes please explain.

Yes, I think members need to attend the TRE® as it calms down the stress. Since the environment we are working in is too much depressing. Also offenders need to attend so that their stress levels are controlled.

Yes – officials and offenders would be calmer and understand each other more.

Yes. It can be valuable for them because everyone deals with different problems, stress and pains. That’s why I recommend it for everyone in the Pollsmoor management area.

Conclusion and recommendation

There is no doubt that TRE®  had a profound effect on those who participated, and many pledged to continue their practice beyond the course, which will bring long term benefits to them.

It is recommended that the Management team of Pollsmoor and TRE® for Africa continue discussions to find ways to make TRE® available to the staff at Pollsmoor, and a mechanism that can ensure regular participation across a six week period to maximize the benefits and impact of the TRE®.

A longer term aim would be to identify interested personnel within Pollsmoor who could be trained as trainers and who can introduce TRE® to offenders as a regular feature of the Pollsmoor programme.