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Trager Approach

Mind-body interventions - edit
NCCAM classifications
  1. Alternative Medical Systems
  2. Biologically Based Therapy
  3. Manipulative Methods
  4. Energy Therapy
See also

The Trager Approach is a mind-body approach to movement education. It is a system of gentle, rhythmic movement and touch aimed at facilitating deep relaxation, increased physical mobility, and promoting the body's optimal performance. There are two aspects of the approach - one in which the client passively receives the movement work on a padded table from a Trager practitioner; and in the other aspect, the client is taught to actively explore comfortable, free movement for themselves, called Mentastics.



The Trager Approach was the creation of a single individual, Milton Trager, M.D. He first encountered its principles intuitively during physical exercise, at the age of 18. He then spent the next 50 years, first as a lay practitioner and later as a medical professional, expanding and refining his approach. Dr. Trager died in 1997. His work is carried on by Trager International and the instructors and certified practitioners of the Trager Approach.

Principles and aims

Dr. Trager's manner of manipulating the body was not a technique or a method, in the sense that there are no rigid procedures which are claimed to produce specific symptomatic results. Rather, it is an approach, a way of learning and of teaching movement re-education. He stressed that his clients should come to him ready to absorb a lesson, instead of ready simply to receive a treatment. Trager is not concerned with moving particular muscles or joints, per se, but with using motion in muscles and joints to produce particular sensory feelings -- positive, pleasurable feelings which enter the central nervous system and begin to trigger tissue changes by means of the many sensory-motor feedback loops between the mind and the muscles. The effects of a Trager session are intended to penetrate below the level of conscious awareness. Dr. Trager noted that the immediate results of the session could be re-enforced and deepened later by clients exploring simple movements that recalled the bodily sensations of the session. The essence of a Trager session is the projection of a calmer, more attentive, more meditative feeling state from the sensibility of the practitioner to the sensibility of the client. Dr. Trager called this "hook-up".

Practitioner certification

The United States Trager Association's certification program takes a minimum of six months to complete. A Trager practitioner receives a minimum 409 hours of training of which 226 are supervised. The training includes a Level I Training (six days), a Level II and III Training (each five days), Mentastics training (three days), and a six day Anatomy and Physiology training with a period of fieldwork and evaluations after each of the three levels of training. The fieldwork consists of giving and documenting a total of at least 90 Trager sessions without charge, and receiving at least 30 Trager sessions. There are also continuing education requirements after becoming a certified Trager practitioner.

Since the founding of The Trager Institute in 1980, nearly 2000 practitioners have been trained in the US, Canada, Europe, Israel, Australia and Japan. In 2001, the Trager Institute became Trager International, an organizational and identity change, embracing a worldwide mission of coordination of 12 national associations and the educational oversight of Trager training.

Typical session

A session typically lasts from one to one and a half hours. The client wears underwear or light, loose clothing and lies on a padded table in a comfortable environment. The practitioner makes touch-contact with the client, both as a whole and partly with individual limbs and segments. The central feature of the work is the sensory quality of the physical contact consisting of gently coaxing elongations, softly penetrating compressions, and a pleasurable rhythmic rocking, sending resonating ripples throughout the body's fluid structure.

After getting up from the table, the client is given some instruction in the use of Mentastics, a system of simple, effortless movement sequences developed by Dr. Trager to maintain and enhance the sense of lightness, freedom, and flexibility that was instilled by the table work.

Benefits and cautions

The Trager Approach is reported to help release or re-balance physical and mental patterning, to facilitate deep relaxation, and to increased physical mobility and functional awareness. The Trager Approach has been reported to ease or help manage a wide range of conditions including: stress, back and neck pain, limited movement, muscle spasms, headaches, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, post-polio syndrome, cerebral palsy, physical/emotional trauma, sports and other injuries.

Active thrombophlebitis (blood clots). Recent surgery on joints (less than three months). It might not be advisable for a client to receive a Trager session if he/she is in a severely debilitated state, who is extremely frail, or has had recent hospitalization for a severe illness.

As with all movement education, bodywork or massage, it is advised that for safe, applicable work a client-person inform the practitioner about their condition beforehand so that the practitioner is aware of any problems and current issues.


  • Archive material from the original Trager Institute site updated (used with permission) ~
  • Liskin, Jack, Moving Medicine: The Life and Work of Milton Trager, MD., Barrytown, NY., Station Hill Press, 1996, ISBN 0-88268-196-6.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Trager_Approach". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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