Skip to content

What Is The Havening Technique®

The Havening Technique® is a therapy technique that includes touch, distraction, and eye movements to reduce distress and anxiety that may be linked to negative memories. Havening techniques stem from psycho-sensory therapies which alter mood, thoughts, and behaviour through sensory input.

Often, past events and thoughts can remain in our subconscious and resurface, causing distress and emotional anxiety each time they return.

The Havening Technique, delivered by a qualified havening practitioner, aims to alter the way the brain stores these emotional memories in a safe and effective way.

Origins Of Havening Techniques

The Havening Technique was developed by Dr. Ronald Ruden, an American neuroscientist, as a form of trauma therapy, using science as the basis. The aim of the Havening Technique is to aid healing using sensory touch. Paul McKenna is one of the most famous proponents of the Havening Technique, having benefited from it himself after a session with Dr. Ruden.

The Havening Technique focuses on touch and uses it therapeutically (the Havening Touch) to remove distressing memories and thoughts. There is evidence to suggest that memories can be changed once they have been recalled, lessening the negative impact of them.

We are currently in a mental health revolution, with the global pandemic underway there is an increased focus on mental health and how it can be treated with interventions that are impactful and effective. Havening Techniques are being used more frequently by people who are sharing their positive experiences of havening therapies.

How Havening Technique Works

Stressful events in life can lead to traumatic encoding. Traumatic encoding refers to memories that are traumatic becoming encoded in the brain as it processed the trauma. Memories of the trauma can become more intense, persistent, and vivid leading to further distress.

These distressing memories or events can be stored in the brain and inadvertently, or consciously, recalled. When this happens, symptoms such as anxiety and panic can occur, and the Havening Technique works to disrupt these feelings and stop them from re-occurring time and time again.

How does the Havening Technique stop these distressing memories from coming back? The Havening Technique uses a process called synaptic depotentiation. Imagine being in a very brightly lit room that is causing you to have a migraine, and then switching off all the lights in the room bringing it into total darkness. This is what synaptic depotentiation is akin to. Using this process the Havening Technique can disrupt the distressing memories, causing them to disappear over time.

Havening Technique works by starting with an activation of the traumatic episode through imaginal recall. Once the event is recalled, a soothing and very gentle touch is applied by the havening practitioner to certain areas of the body including the upper arms, eyes, and palms. This sensory touch produces a safety response to counteract the traumatic memory. The touch also acts as a distraction, taking the person away from the trauma and displacing and removing the recalled event from memory.

The touch applied therapeutically by the havening practitioner stimulates the skin’s receptors and can increase neurochemicals such as serotonin in the brain. These neurochemicals, and the sensory touch, work to delink the triggering responses of flight, fight and freeze from the stored memory. The end result is that the memory is capable of being remembered, but the very subjective and distressing emotions linked to that memory become more objective and less traumatic.

What Types Of Issues Can The Havening Technique Help With?

Traumatic and stressful life events can lead to physical and psychological issues.

Havening Techniques can help to alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression whilst managing emotions such as grief, anger, distress, and panic attacks. The Havening Technique can help you deal with emotional disturbance and distress, and working with trained havening practitioners ensures that you can achieve healing in a safe and controlled environment.

The aim of the Havening Technique is to aid emotional healing and empower individuals to be in control of their emotional responses to traumatic events. Recently, you may have seen Hayley Bieber share with the world that her husband, Justin Bieber, uses the Havening Technique to manage his anxiety. Justin worked extensively with a havening practitioner and now uses the technique to relieve his anxiety.

In addition to the conditions mentioned above, the Havening Technique can help with the following:

  • Phobias
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders
  • Chronic Pain
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Emotional Eating
  • Abandonment
  • Low confidence and low self esteem

Evidence Havening Works

As the technique is relatively new in terms of mental health treatment, the evidence base for the Having Technique is still being developed and is still in the early stages. However, the studies that have been carried out demonstrate a general improvement in the symptoms of those taking part.

A more recent study, which was published in the Journal of Psychophysiology in September 2020, examined the actual impact of Havening Techniques and found that distress scores were reduced in the participants. The study found that the Havening Techniques can be used for long-term and sustainable decreases in the biological markers for trauma and stress.

Is The Havening Technique Safe?

As with any form of therapy, working with a trained havening practitioner who understands the technique and its application is crucial if you want to achieve maximum success. There is likely to be some upset during the recall of distressing events and memories, but in terms of safety then the Havening Technique poses no danger to individuals.

The Havening Technique is a therapeutic tool with a very low risk of harm. The word havening itself means to place in a safe haven, and a qualified havening practitioner can ensure that you are fully supported during the session.

Does The Havening Technique Involve Hypnosis?

No, there is no hypnosis involved at all with havening therapy. You will remain fully awake and conscious throughout the session and will help to direct the havening therapy session

What Happens If I Feel Uncomfortable?

If at any point during the Havening Technique session you feel uncomfortable the havening practitioner would stop the session. There is likely to be some discomfort when navigating the landscape of distressing memories and recalling them, but the main priority is always to ensure that you feel safe and comfortable enough to continue. You are the main driver of the session, so if you want to slow down or stop then that is what will happen.

Benefits Of The Havening Technique

  • Quick and easy
  • Non-surgical intervention
  • Pain-free
  • Can create permanent change
  • Can remove distressing triggers
  • Can stop negativity and the physical effects of trauma
  • Can help the brain produce feelings of safety
  • Reframes traumatic events

How Can I Make An Appointment For A Havening Session?

Contact John Nolan or

Phone 0114 299 88 88

John Nolan is a certified practitioner of the Havening Techniques.