What are Havening Techniques?
Havening Techniques ® are a radical new and evolving form of scientific therapy that helps permanently treat and heal traumas, anxiety and phobias as well as to create positive alterations in our brain to enhance wellness and resilience. They are a type of psychosensory therapy, meaning applying a sensory touch to produce a response (electro-chemical) that literally heals and positively alters our mind (psyche).
Past experiences can stay with us in our lives, resulting in unwanted responses and emotions to similar situations. These past experiences can be significant traumatic events that are producing PTSD symptoms, or equally seemingly insignificant experiences that our brain has stored in a way that produces a disproportionate emotional response. Our brain is very literal and doesn’t have our ability to rationally gauge what should be traumatic or not, so due to the way the experience was perceived at the time, it sometimes stores past experiences in a way that means they set off our primitive emotions such as anger, anxiety, or fear whenever something reminds us of them again, even if they seem insignificant when we think about them objectively now.
Havening techniques ® uses a way that has been found to correct the way these memories are stored in our neurology, so that they have no further emotional impact and other responses and symptoms can be altered for the better, or completely eradicated.
How does Havening work?
It is useful to have a brief understanding of how we come to create ‘traumas’ to appreciate how Havening works in eradicating traumas.
How we create ‘traumatic memories’
In order for an event to be traumatic, no matter how significant or insignificant it seemed at the time, it has key components that cause the memory of the event to become stored, or as the neuro-scientists call it, ‘encoded’ in the brain as a trauma.
What makes up a ‘traumatic memory?
These tend to be highly emotional events or experiences that in the moment we have taken to mean something threatens us. They tend to also be experiences that for whatever reason we perceive we can’t get away from. This can be literal, as in there is no means of escape in traumatic events such as violent abuse, being trapped, war zones etc. It is can equally be about how we perceive the situation is not being able to control the situation or get out of it because the consequences would be too terrifying, which is of course just as real in a different way. Examples such as losing our job, a threat to a relationship, being abandoned by a parent etc. are just as real as being in a car accident and not being able to get out, or some other literal traumatic event, The other component that means that we encoded these as traumatic experiences is to do with what is known as our ‘emotional landscape’ at the time. Simply put, this is what state our brain is in at the time of the event, formed by previous and current experiences, our temperament and how sensitive or vulnerable we currently are to stressors in our lives.
Due to all of this, the memory ends up being permanently encoded in this way in the fight or flight region of our brain known as the amygdala, meaning recollection or new, similar events occurring will reactivate a significant, emotional response often is though you’re reliving the initial experience for the first time.
What Havening therapy ® does
A memory is made up of lots of different sensory and cognitive information that is stored in the brain with it, including the emotions felt and the effect that they have on the body. Every time the traumatic memory or experience is re-accessed through recalling it, or experiencing another event that is similar enough in its stimulus, there are certain receptors in the area in which the memory is stored that become activated (known as potentiated), a bit like a vigilant meerkat popping up in high alert from behind the rock if it smells a threat in the air. It is these receptors that are responsible for linking any similar event to the extreme emotional response of the initial memory, by allowing fast conduction down that memory pathway in the brain straight to the emotional response. These activated (potentiated) receptors are like the vital link in the chain between the stimulus of the traumatic memory and the emotional response.
The therapy, through Havening touch ®, sets off an electrochemical chain reaction leading to the permanent removal (in medical terms, ‘depotentiation’ or internalisation) of these receptors. It is this removal that permanently disconnects the recalled memory from its emotional content, therefore detaching you from the event, and the memory being encoded in a different, non-traumatic way. After the process, you may remember the memory or the event, however the emotional response is no longer there. This means you may still be able to recall the memory, perhaps with some extra or different information that you didn’t have access to before. Or it may seem more distant or harder to recall, but, most importantly it will no longer have any negative emotional impact. It will be just like your normal memories.
Havening is not just for isolated traumatic memories. There are other types of Havening techniques ® that can be successfully used for repetitive negative emotional experiences that have led to unwanted or unhelpful emotions as adults. It can also be used as a great tool for anxiety and stress as well as for a multitude of positive changes. You can find out more about how it may help you here.
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What is the origin of Havening ® Techniques?
Havening (Also known as Amygdala Depotentiation Therapy- ADT) was created by Dr Ronald Ruden, a medical doctor with a specialism in neuroscience and emotional trauma, and a published author on trauma and addictions. It came about when he observed a colleague receiving another form of ‘psychosensory’ therapy, EFT, for a phobia. Intrigued by the effective result he worked for over 10 years with his brother Steven Ruden to explore the science behind this approach and with the results, developed the powerful and effective Havening Techniques ®.
Does Havening actually work?
Simply put, yes! It has published evidence with PTSD war veterans and thousands of case studies collated over the years. Personally speaking, the feedback and results I have witnessed first-hand with my clients are remarkable and continue to surprise and excite me and my clients! I have a medical background so am naturally cautious and somewhat sceptical of new therapies and claims, but its effectiveness speaks for itself. Internationally, there are now tens of thousands of case studies proving its results and worthiness as a rapid and innovative form of therapy.
Being passionate about only using what works, I can speak from first-hand experience having successfully treated my own extreme phobia of heights, by Havening at the side of the cliff top whilst my travel companion sat and watched! 30 minutes later I was peering over the edge with no physical symptoms and able to relax and enjoy the view for the first time in about 20 years. This was tested out many times afterwards on the holiday from bell towers, bridges and castle walls and I can safely say it has permanently gone.
Life throws us surprising curve balls all the time and now if something pops up where I noticed my reaction is way above and beyond what the situation warrants, it’s a sign of something in my past which I can now self-haven quickly and easily, eradicating all sorts of minor and more major issues that have had a surprising impact until this day.
My experience and that of others is it is the ultimate self-treatment tool and can be taught to anyone.
What is the evidence for Havening?
The field of research into Havening is ever expanding. Currently published studies include a study on the impact of a single session of Havening, an additional publication and a recently published study into its the clinical and therapeutic effects. Further studies, projects and research are continually underway and like all well executed research, take time.
Alongside these publications, Havening has significant empirical evidence with thousands of case studies supporting Havening efficiency, showing its beneficial therapeutic effects on trauma, such as phobias, traumatic memories, experiences and events through to the PTSD. Additionally, these thousands of case studies and first hand experiences of practitioners worldwide reinforce the benefits well beyond trauma and negative past experiences; it is proving highly effective in aiding resilience and wellbeing, leading to a balanced, calm and resourceful state of mind, self-confidence and peak performance.
What can I expect with Havening Therapy?
There are different techniques within Havening, some of which work on a specific event, others are more generalised. Some involve recalling memories, others work with the physical feeling only, and some use distraction techniques while the touch therapy is doing its job. This can vary from the fun, wild, and wacky to ensure the experience is pleasant. So you are safe knowing that there is no requirement to drag up unpleasant feelings or memories, the therapy allows many ways around this.
The touch technique itself involves very specific and gentle touch on the hands, arms of face called Havening Touch ® which has the flexibility to be carried out by the person with whom you are most comfortable. Be it by the practitioner, a partner, a parent or friend, or by doing the process yourself with guidance through the process by your practitioner.
The therapy process for traumatic events consists of:
- Activation of an emotional event by recalling briefly (this can be avoided if needed)
- Havening touch which is applied to the arms, face and palm. The touch produces a significant increase in what is known as a Delta wave, which sets off an electrochemical chain reaction (and surge of particular hormones and chemicals) through the body and into the brain. This subsequently ‘de-potentiating’ the receptor at the encoded neural pathway and de-linking the encoded memory from the emotional response.
- Distraction techniques whilst this is occurring such as visualising and counting. Once the encoded event is activated, there is no need to experience the emotional response any further, so distraction techniques prevent any further re-experiencing of the event and assist in creating a sense of calm and safety.
- The effect of this is scored on a scale so you and the practitioner have a measure of its effects, and this continued through several rounds without any further need to recall the event until the negative effects is gone.
Is Havening safe?
Yes, provided it is carried out by or under the guidance of a highly skilled and fully qualified Havening techniques practitioner. There are some, but a minimal amount of known contraindications, you’re qualify practitioner will carry out a thorough assessment to ensure it is safe for you before commencing the treatment, and it is often used in conjunction with other fields of therapy for a comprehensive and successful approach.
There are occasions where during the process itself, it provides an outlet for repressed emotions leading to quite significant responses. Yet in skilled hands this is a highly productive part of the healing process and by the end of the session, will have been released and permanently cleared.
Like any form of therapy when working with significant traumas, there is a requirement for a gentle and staged approach as different aspects and components present themselves at different times. Therefore occasionally when you remove one ‘layer’ of emotion, memory or trauma, something else may present itself. The best thing about Havening is because you can do it to yourself any time, it is like an SOS toolkit so you will have the technique to be able to handle this should it happen.
*Guidance on practitioners ~ note of caution and care. Not everyone who claims to use Havening is certified. There are a limited number of Certified Havening Practitioners currently in London and less than a hundred internationally at the time of writing.
Certification is a complex process ensuring Practitioners are thoroughly trained, assessed and deemed safe and competent with the accompanying knowledge base, so they are equipped to manage the complexities of trauma and to keep you safe. Please ensure whoever you choose is a certified practitioner. You can check here
Am I in control?
Yes, completely. The practitioner doesn’t even need to know the content of what you are working on. What they will be focusing on is your responses and reactions to measure its effects and keep you safe, as well as guiding you through the process. You are completely control of the process and where you go with it throughout.
Is Havening for me?
For some, the idea of touch treating trauma or phobias may seem strange or unfamiliar at first. Yet the basis of it aside from the science of what it does within the brain, is to provide a feeling of calmness and safety. Literally a safe haven. It is what we instinctively and intuitively to others including our children and partners whenever we want to comfort them or make them feel safe. If you have a pet, children or are naturally tactile you will know the response that your gentle touch has on others.
As adults within our culture, touch has become less familiar for some, yet there is a wealth of evidence showing its benefits due to the release of positive hormones and calming electrical effects it has on our brain and body, be that in the form of massage or Havening.
Even the most apprehensive or sceptical tend to find themselves surprised and feeling great at the end of the process, if a little confused as to where their symptoms have gone! You don’t need to believe in it for it to work. The science does its job without any need for our healthily sceptical, rational mind to be on board as long as you’re willing to engage in the process fully regardless of your beliefs! It’s hard to argue with the feeling and benefits of a calm brain and body flooded with serotonin which comes with this therapy, but that’s just an aside; it is for you if you’re prepared to try anything to help resolve effects of your past.
What are the types of Havening techniques ®?
There are a number of Havening Techniques ® with multiple applications, and more being developed all the time. Three common types of Havening are:
- Event Havening – used for encoded psychological trauma in specific events that have created associated significant emotional responses, such as phobias / PTSD / emotionally evoking and traumatic memories/break-ups
- Transpirational Havening– works on specific negative emotions associated with single or multiple events, as well as creating new positive emotional states
- Outcome Havening– Works in increasing peak performance and wellness and helps install the emotions associated with achieving them
What can Havening help with?
The simplicity of it means you don’t even need to know where what you want to work on came from. Havening allows working with a particular emotion to clear it all out without needing to go to a particular experience. The effect of the Havening touch also produces a calm pleasant state, similar to hypnosis whilst being fully aware of what is going on, so it can also be used to work on positive states, behaviours, and goals to help build up resilience, self-confidence, initiate actions for goals, coping mechanisms and capabilities, reduce stress, break the pattern of anxiety to name a few.
Some of the areas Havening can be used for:
- Emotional/Psychological Trauma
- Fears, Phobias and Panic
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Compulsions and substance abuse (combined with other therapy)
- Relationship breakups and unwanted behaviours in current relationships
- Guilt and Shame
- Conversion disorder
- Chronic pain and illnesses/injuries with no medical or mechanical cause (somatic)
- Anger and rage (including repressed)
- Cravings or Emotional Eating
- Self-esteem and confidence
- Stress and Resilience
- Visualisation and creativity
- Installing positive beliefs
- Focusing on and motivating yourself towards goals
Where can I find a Havening Practitioner
If you are looking for Havening therapist in London or South West of England, then as a certified Havening Practitioner, I may be able to help you, you can book or make an enquiry below or learn more about how I use Havening combined with other forms of therapy and techniques:
If you live further afield or wish to find your own practitioner or do further research then you can find a list of all the certified Havening practitioners here. These are the only Practitioners that are qualified to use Havening, so you can be assured of their quality.