Havening Therapy for Anxiety & Stress

Havening Therapy for reducing anxiety & stress

with Stephen Travers, Director of UK & International Havening

& John Donnelly from Your Holistic Academy interview. 

In this video interview  you will learn how Havening is used 

to help gain freedom from anxiety based issues & boost resilience!

The interview also includes a Self Havening Demo for reducing anxiety & stress

that you can use now & follow along with.

A full transcript of the interview is included below the video.

JD:  Good afternoon everyone, John Donnelly from Your Holistic Academy.

And today I have a very special guest with me, Stephen Travers, how

are you doing today Stephen?


ST:   I’m keeping very well John.


JD:  Good, good to see. We wanted to talk about Havening today, you’re a

Director of U.K and International Havening, and maybe some people

who are listening haven’t come across Havening therapy before, so can you

give us a little bit of background to the Havening technique?


ST:  So Havening therapy is a ground-breaking psycho-sensory approach for

gaining freedom from anxiety based disorders, trauma and creating

emotional resiliency. When we say psycho-sensory, what we mean is

in the techniques or the treatments we use, we apply sensory touch

very gently on the arms, on the palms of the hands and also very

gently around the face, we use various psychological visualisation and

distraction techniques.


JD:  Okay. So the focus here is on identifying traumas or anxieties and

trying to disconnect those if you like?


ST:   Yes, so I’ll just give you a bit of the background about Havening. It was

developed by an American medical doctor called Doctor Ronald Ruden

and his brother Doctor Steven Ruden, so there’s a lot of neuroscience

behind Havening therapy. And what we’ve discovered from the ground-

breaking work of the doctors is how trauma becomes encoded in the

limbic system in the amygdala, and how that then produces anxiety

based symptoms such as panic attacks, post-traumatic stress, fears,

phobias, those pathological emotions people can’t shift sometimes,

those feelings of feeling unresolved anger, shame, guilt, some people

have abandonment issues etc, or that feeling of not feeling good

enough. So we now know how to actually pinpoint and identify the

roots of what causes those symptoms, and with the Havening

techniques–and it does sound a little bit unbelievable, but we can

resolve say for example traumatic memories within minutes, we can

completely resolve the emotional trauma from them and free the

person from it.


JD:  Yeah, so it makes sense that those emotions are stored in the body if

you like.


ST:  Yeah they’re stored in the part of the brain called the amygdala which

is part of your limbic system, the reptilian brain that controls that fight,

flight or freeze response or reaction that we feel when we feel

threatened, anxious or uncomfortable.


JD:  So then the Havening therapy is about reprogramming if you like is it,

reprogramming the cells?


ST:  Yeah it’s about changing the landscape of the brain, the electrical

chemical landscape of your brain. Your brain and body are electrical

chemical organs, and when you’re feeling very stressed or anxious

there’s a lot of cortisol and adrenaline being activated in the brain and in

the body. And when we apply the sensory touch–because Havening therapy is

really about the neuro-biology of sensory touch and how it changes

what’s happening in the brain and the body. So when we apply the

touch it’s actually increasing positive calming neurotransmitters such

as serotonin, oxytocin and GABA, and it’s calming your whole

autonomic nervous system down as well. So it reduces your heart rate,

your blood pressure, and just calms the whole body down, and this

happens within minutes because of what’s happening in the brain when

we apply sensory touch.


JD:  So the brain frequencies are changing Stephen as you go through the

Havening therapy, is that right?


ST:   Absolutely right. What makes Havening therapy special is that when we apply

the sensory touch it’s producing something called delta waves in the

brain, delta waves occur in slow wave sleep, and it brings the brain

waves right down to 0.5 to two hertz per cycle per second. For example,

when you’re very stressed and anxious your brainwaves can be up

really high up to 70, 80, 90, up to even 100 hertz GAMMA wave. And

when you apply this touch and as it produces these delta waves it

simultaneously changes the chemistry as well in the brain and the

body, it actually activates the serotonin, the oxytocin, the GABA, those

feel good chemicals.


JD: And this is all science based, obviously there’s a whole body of

research Stephen that supports this Havening therapy.

havening therapy

ST:  Yes, there’s lots of research and studies done around sensory touch

and how it changes what’s happening in the brain and the body. The

Havening therapy techniques are really based on the latest discoveries and

research into neuroscience, in terms of how touch changes what’s

happening in the brain and the body. And Havening therapy is a very

specialized approach specifically for anxiety based disorders, trauma,

and creating resiliency. So when we work with clients who come to us

with anxiety based issues we know now how to pinpoint and identify

what’s actually causing the problem. In regards to the research, Doctor

Ruden did over 10 years research into how trauma becomes encoded

in the brain and the body, how sensory touch is actually changing

what’s happening in the limbic system, the body. And we literally have

over 50,000 cases done, and there’s just been studies done in King

College London with Professor Neil Greenberg on Havening, and on

the extraordinary impact it has even in one session on anxiety based



JD:  Brilliant. So you’re combining the touch with the visualizations if you

like that are part of the Havening therapy, is it?

How Havening is used on anxiety issues

ST:  Yes. So to give you an example if I was working with someone maybe

with a panic attack or panic attacks, or they’re suffering with post-

traumatic stress and they’re having a lot of anxiety symptoms, weren’t

sleeping, they were feeling hyper vigilant, they were depressed or

down, they may have been having other physiological symptoms, heart

palpitations, feeling quite physically tense. What we do is we pinpoint

and identify hurdles, symptoms that were produced, and you’re always

going to find there’s going to be at least one distressing event that has

caused the symptoms, so when we find that event we’d get the person

to close their eyes and go back into the memory. Now when a

traumatic event occurs there’s something called AMPA receptors that

get encoded in the neurons in the amygdala, and these receptors

download all the stress that you’re sensing, perceiving and feeling at

the time of the trauma.

So if your heart’s palpating, you have a knot in your stomach,

everything that you’re seeing and hearing associated with those

feelings at that moment in that event all that gets encoded into those

receptors. So the event’s over, you’re okay and you’re going through

your life, and something reminds you of that event consciously or

subconsciously. And what that does it reactivates the amygdala and it

fires off those AMPA receptors, and they release cortisol and

adrenaline into the body which then produce the symptoms. But what

we do is we get the person to think of a memory or the event, when the

AMPA receptors fire there’s something called a phosphate molecule

that’s holding them there, that phosphate molecule is now exposed for

about ten minutes. Then we ask the person to think about something

else like walking on a beach or through a park or hum a song, the

distraction, that’s a distraction, the visualization part displaces the

traumatic memory out of the working memory, because it’s very difficult

to think of two things at the exact same time.

Then we start applying the Havening therapy touch, by producing those delta

waves–the word Havening by the way means bringing you to a safe

place, to a safe haven, so that’s a summary of how we begin. And to

give you one other brief summary, what’s actually happening in the

brain when we’re Havening someone is when those AMPA receptors

are fired and we’re actually Havening someone, those delta waves are

going into the neurons with these AMPA receptors. And as they enter

the delta waves create a chemical called calcineurin inside the

neurons, and that calcineurin unglues, or removes that phosphate

molecule and the AMPA receptors then disappear. And what that

means, the emotional and physiological components of the trauma,

those distressing feelings are now removed and de-linked. So it’s

actually removing and clearing the anxiety from the memory, and then

these triggers or stimulus that was triggering off the anxiety, the panic

attacks or the trauma can’t trigger that anymore, because we’ve

actually changed what’s happening in the brain and those AMPA

receptors are now gone.


JD: So Stephen, if somebody comes in for a treatment they’re walking out

feeling completely different, and they’re probably wondering what’s

happened to them [Chuckles].


ST:  Yes they are, people are amazed; they’re genuinely so pleasantly

surprised. Because we have done–we know from over 20,000

Havening therapy sessions from the doctors and myself, and even more from

the other clinicians and practitioners we have around the world, it takes

on average just seven minutes to clear a major traumatic memory.


JD:                  Wow.


ST:  Just under seven minutes. And I’ve worked with clients who have been

doing therapy for months, even years, and then they can come in, we

can pinpoint and identify it and actually shift it really quickly.


JD:  Wow. And so I know from my healing journey if you like, I would keep

going back to therapists for acupuncture and for kinesiology and for all

different treatments. And I guess I’d keep on going back over and over

again, I’d feel better but then I’d slip back into old habits or something,

but this is sort of different you know.


ST:  Yeah, a lot of those approaches are very good for general well being,

promoting a sense of calmness, even for helping develop a resiliency.

The big difference with the neuroscience behind Havening therapy is that we

understand now how to pinpoint as I mentioned and identify what’s

causing the symptoms. And most importantly the treatment itself, the

Havening techniques actually produces the result, because it’s actually

changing what’s happening in the brain in regards to where the trauma

got encoded and we’re de-encoding it. It’s like the light switch was

turned on, we’re switching the light switch off on the anxiety.


JD: So typically do you find Stephen that people don’t come back to you?

They’re so happy with the results that they don’t actually come back to

you for a second session?


ST:  Well I’m doing Havening therapy now, I was one of the very first practitioners to

be trained in the world going back eight years ago, I’ve done over

5,000 Havening’s in the last eight years, and I’ve run multiple training’s

here in Ireland and even abroad. And the way I work with clients is I do

a four session program, and we teach that to people in our training’s as

well. And in the first session or two we’re really going in on working on

the past, in regards to how it’s affecting them in the present and

clearing up the trauma and the issues. By the time we get to session

three and four, we’re working more on developing and building and

boosting that emotional resiliency, that sense of self confidence, the

ability to regulate your emotions even better, be more focused on

where you’re going in your life. So it’s not just about clearing trauma,

it’s also about developing that resiliency, and also teaching people how

to use the techniques to help prevent future traumatization and to keep

their emotional resiliency levels high. And we probably need that more

than ever before with everything that’s going on in the world at the



JD:  So then the whole concept of Self-Havening therapy if you like where people

learn the technique from you and then they can apply it themselves, so

they don’t need to come back to you afterwards.


ST:  Yes, yeah. Mostly what we teach therapists to do is to obviously

resolve the anxiety based issue as best as possible if not completely

for the client, but also to empower the client. We’re teaching the client

how to use the techniques to keep if you like their mental health in a

positive place. What we can actually do for the people watching as well

is we can do a little demo and everyone can follow along and

experience what it’s like to do some Havening therapy, if you’re happy to do

that John?


JD: Okay, absolutely I’d love to Stephen. So you just guide me through it.

Self Havening Therapy Technique Demo

ST:  Okay. So we’ll all do it together, and for anyone watching you can

follow along with us. First of all don’t take anything too traumatic or

distressing, obviously this is a demo that we’re doing live on Facebook.

But what I will ask you to think about is maybe think of something that’s

already stressing in your life, it could be just the lock down itself, maybe

it’s affecting you in some way, maybe you’re feeling anxious, worried

upset about it, or just anything that you’re feeling uncomfortable about

in your life at the moment. And what I’m going to do in a moment is I’m

going to ask you to close your eyes and just think about that thing

that’s causing you stress and scale it on a scale of zero to ten, ten’s

very uncomfortable, zero is calm and relaxed. So we’re just going to

activate the amygdala a little bit, then I’ll say to you open up your eyes,

clear your mind, and we’ll start doing some arm Havening, then we’ll do

some palm Havening.

Make sure your hands are clean by the way as well because we’re

going to do some face Havening, but simultaneously I’ll also be doing

some pleasant distraction with you. So I will ask you to imagine walking

on a beach, through a park, and we’ll do a bit of humming as well like

Jingle Bells, Happy Birthday. If you dislike those songs for some

reason change the visualization, so if you don’t like walking along a

beach imagine maybe walking through a park or through some

beautiful scenery where there’s some mountains. And then I’m going to

ask you on the scale of ten to zero how you’re feeling, so we’re going

to do this for about five to six minutes. So I’d like everyone to sit back

and make yourselves comfortable and just close your eyes. And with

your eyes closed and as you hear my voice here and my voice there,

I’d like you to think about that thing that’s stressing you out, that makes

you feel uncomfortable, that’s causing you some sort of anxiety or

uncomfortable feelings.

Really focus on it and think about why you’re feeling so uncomfortable

or how uncomfortable do you feel, and scale it on a scale of zero to

ten, what number comes to mind, ten is very uncomfortable at the

highest, zero is calm. Just notice what feelings are coming up before

you sense it in your body, then open up your eyes, look at me and

clear your mind everyone, and put one hand on your shoulder and one

hand on the other shoulder across your body, and begin stroking very

gently from the top of your shoulders all the way down to your elbows.

Think if you were comforting a child or even petting a cat or a dog in a

gentle positive way. Just keep stroking, you can look at me until you

find the right rhythm, nice gentle strokes, only do it from the top of your

shoulder all the way down to your elbows. Now close your eyes and

imagine walking out onto a beautiful beach on a bright summers day,

imagine a beautiful blue sky, yellow sand, the sound of the waves

lapping in against the shore, even the heat of the sunshine and the

smell of the fresh sea air.

It’s like you’re on a lovely holiday, just walking along the beach and

maybe it’s about 20 degrees Celsius so it’s lovely and warm. With

every step you imagine taking count out loud from one to 20 with me

with every step you imagine taking. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

  1. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. You can imagine a few seagulls flying by

in the sky drifting by. Then for the fun of it I’d like everyone to sing

Happy Birthday to me, just a couple of bars, I know it seems strange

but the distraction of the song works really well. And if you can start

smiling or laughing a bit that’s a good thing that increases your

serotonin too, so let’s sing Happy Birthday. ‘Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Stephen, Happy Birthday

to you, Happy

Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday

dear Stephen, Happy Birthday to you’. Good, keep stroking, taking in a

slow gentle breath as you do, just focusing on that gentle sensory

touch, very good.

Now open up your eyes and look at me and let’s do some palm

Havening together. So there’s all these nerve fibre’s in your skin and

what you’re doing is you’re stimulating those nerve fibre’s which are

producing delta waves in your brain. So just think of gently washing

your palms, gently massaging your palms together, that’s it just nice

and gentle, gently caressing the palms. Then close your eyes and let’s

count backwards together now from 30 down to zero in twos out loud

starting at thirty. 30. 28. 26. 24. 22. Relaxing with every number. 20.

  1. 16. 14. 12. 10. 8. 6. 4. 2. 0, that’s it, keep stroking the palms of your

hands, focusing on that soft sensory touch. Then I’d like you to sing

Row Your Boat with me, ‘row, row, row your boat gently down the

stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream. Row, row,

row your boat gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,

life is but a dream. Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream,

merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream’.

Good keep stroking, taking in a slow gentle breath, relaxing with every

breath, relaxing with every gentle stroke and touch. And as you keep

stroking your hands, the palms of your hands, it’s called palm

Havening, just notice on a scale of ten to zero what number comes to

mind now, first number that comes to mind just notice what it is. Then

open up your eyes and look at me, and begin very gently massaging

around your forehead and your face, once again think if you were

comforting a child or you’re petting an animal, do it with a healing

positive intention, you’re gently washing your face, gently caressing

your face. Then I’d like you to close your eyes and I’d like you to

imagine a beautiful staircase in front of you, it could be a staircase in a

beautiful five star hotel or a castle or a palace, or it could just be a very

plain simple staircase. Then we’ll imagine just 20 steps on this beautiful

staircase, and as you walk up the staircase with every step you take

count out loud from one to twenty with me as you imagine walking up

each step, and every step causes you to relax a little bit more.

Starting at 1, keep stroking your face. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

  1. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. Very good, keep stroking. Then I’d like

you to sing the song Twinkle Star with me, ‘twinkle, twinkle little star,

how I wonder what you are, up above the world so high, like a diamond

in the sky, twinkle, twinkle little star how I wonder what you are, up

above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky, twinkle, twinkle little

star how I wonder what you are’. Good, keep stroking around your

forehead and the cheeks, once again creating and producing those

lovely delta waves, taking in a slow gentle breath with your eyes

closed, very good. And just notice on a scale of ten to zero what

number comes to mind now, whatever number pops into your mind,

and then open up your eyes, look at me and we’re going to do just one

more round. So we’ll finish up on the arm Havening stroking from the

top of your shoulders all the way down to your elbows. That’s very

good the way you’re doing that John, and then we’ll do a wee bit more


So everyone again I’d like you to close your eyes, I’d just like you to

imagine walking in your favourite place, it could be a park, it could be

up the mountains, it could be by the beach, it could even be through a

beautiful city or street. Just think of your favourite place that you love to

go to, a special place for you or a place that you enjoy walking in. And

as you begin to imagine within your mind imagine being there walking

in that landscape seeing what you see, hearing the sounds, and with

every step you imagine taking count out loud from one to twenty with

  1. Starting at 1, 2. 3. 4. 5. Relaxing with every step. 6. Keep stroking

your arms. 7. 8. 9. Really visualizing what you’re seeing as you walk

along there, the beautiful sights, sounds, smells. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

  1. 17. 18. 19. 20. That’s it, keep stroking, and I’m just going to go

back again and we’re going to sing a few bars of Happy Birthday for

the fun of it starting again with ‘Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday

to you, Happy Birthday dear Stephen, Happy Birthday to you, Happy

Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Stephen,

Happy Birthday to you’.

Gently keep stroking, taking in a slow gentle breath as you do, relaxing

with every breath, just enjoying the gentle lightness of letting go, that’s

it, stroking from the top of your shoulders all the way down to your

elbows. Then you can gently open up your eyes and if you wish you

can take a little stretch, maybe a drink of water, now just take a

moment to relax and take it easy. And just notice how you’re feeling in

your head, in your body, you may notice you feel a little bit lighter,

sometimes people feel a bit tired or sleepy, sometimes they’re

physically more relaxed, sometimes people can feel even a bit heavier,

lighter, calmer, more at ease, just notice how you’re feeling. How are

you feeling John?

Post Havening Outcome – Debrief 

JD: I’ll tell you what I feel amazing; I didn’t know where I was there

[Chuckles] I really got into that, what were we talking about?


ST:  Yeah, and you know it’s great talking about all the neuroscience behind

it and how it works, but there’s nothing like giving people an experience

of doing this where you really–


JD: Oh no it’s lovely, that was lovely, really lovely, and I just feel really

relaxed and really really enjoyed it. And you can sort of lose track of

time there for a minute, I don’t even know how long we were doing that



ST:  We were probably doing that for–yeah it’s now actually 1:30pm, we

were probably doing that for about seven, eight minutes, but that’s like

a little taster of what Havening therapy can do.


JD:  I feel like taking the rest of the day off Stephen. My daughter lives in

Perth so I was actually on the beach in Perth there while I had my eyes

closed and it felt great you know [Chuckles].


ST:  Yeah, yeah, that’s a really good type of distraction.


JD:  I think I’ll take the rest of the day off now [Chuckles].


ST:   Yeah, I would really like everyone to do just one final thing, just think

back for a moment on the thing that was stressing you out and making

you feel a bit uncomfortable. Just take a moment, and you can close

your eyes if you want, think about what’s making you feel

uncomfortable, and just notice what the difference is or what has



JD: It’s completely gone.


ST:  Right. And by the way if you know you want to do a bit more Havening therapy

on this as well I have a You Tube channel, just type in Stephen Travers

Havening therapy into  YouTube and I have some videos there that you can

follow along with as well. If anyone does have a serious anxiety based

disorder or issue obviously they’re more than welcome to contact me

as well. See https://www.youtube.com/c/StephenTraversHypnosisDublin/videos


JD:  Well I loved that. And you’re doing some training coming up at the end

of February isn’t it?


ST:  Yes, we have the Certified Havening Techniques Training happening on

the 27th and 28th of February live online on Zoom. So that’s two days, a

lot of therapists do it, coaches, people into professional development,

also people who are working with anxiety based disorders, they have a

client. So that’s jam packed two days of live demos where I work with

the students, they’re working on real issues. After the demos you break

out into groups of three in the Zoom rooms, we also have a certified

Havening therapy facilitator that goes into that room with you and you actually

practice the techniques on each other. And then we obviously go into

much more detail about the neuroscience, how to pinpoint and identify

trauma, and all the different types of Havening therapy techniques.


JD:  Brilliant Stephen. And you’re also going to come and do a chat for us

next Tuesday night at 6:00pm in the Your Holistic Academy group



ST:  I am, yes absolutely. And for anyone watching or who’s attending, if

they do have a specific issue they want to work on like a traumatic

memory or something distressing them that happened to them recently

or in the past, I’ll be happy to do a live demo with them on that



JD:  And what we’re going to do Stephen, we’re actually going to advertise

that and we’re going to invite people outside of the Holistic Academy

group as well, we’re going to invite people to come to that because I

think it’s fabulous. And anybody who wants to come to that we’re going

to advertise that event and invite people to come along to it as well, so

it’s 6:00pm next Tuesday night. And if anybody has questions or are

interested in the training then they can ask you as well on the night



ST:  Yeah we’ll do some Q&A as well, and we’ll also do a bit more group

Havening therapy and I’ll have a bit of a PowerPoint slide, just a few slides to

give you from the training itself, just to give people more in depth

insight about what Havening is and how it actually works, plus they can

go to my website as well, there’s lots of information there.


JD: That’s brilliant Stephen. So as I say we’ll advertise that and invite

people to come to that event next Tuesday night at 6:00pm, and that’s

on the Your Holistic Academy Facebook page, you’ll be able to find the

details of that event. And also we’ll advertise it in the comments with

this video how to get in touch with you and how to access your training

Stephen. And that was really fantastic, I really enjoyed that, I mean that

was just a brilliant feeling, feeling great after–


ST:  Great, great, and that’s just a taster, that’s the tip of the iceberg.


JD:  And I’m so much looking forward to another session Stephen, so I’ll

definitely see you again Tuesday night anyway.


ST:  Okay that’s great John, thank you for that. I hope everyone enjoyed our

talk today, and as I said feel free to check out the website, and if you

can come along on Tuesday that’d be brilliant.


JD:  Brilliant Stephen, thank you so much, and listen I’ll talk to you Tuesday.


ST:  John thank you very much, bye now.


For a free phone consultation about Havening or hypnotherapy sessions   

email [email protected] with your name & number for a call back