How to do Havening Technique to help relieve anxiety

How to do Havening Technique to help relieve anxiety & stress interview

with StephenTravers, Director of UK & International Havening

& Susan Drumm, The Enlighened Executive  Show.

See the full video interview  & blog below

SD:  I’m Susan Drumm, and welcome to the Enlightened Executive, where

your personal evolution sparks your leadership evolution. Each episode

we highlight a ground-breaking technique or strategy, to help

entrepreneurs and executives get the edge for personal and leadership

effectiveness, and we highlight a different dream office backdrop.

Today we are focusing on Havening and its application to business.

With me today I am pleased to introduce from Ireland, Stephen

Travers. Stephen is the Director of U.K and International Havening.

He’s one of the world’s foremost experts in this breakthrough

neuroscientific approach for healing trauma, anxiety-based disorders,

and producing confidence and resilience. Stephen excels at teaching

people how to use Havening, to create fast and lasting and

empowering changes in their lives, so welcome Stephen.


ST:   Hi Susan.


SD:  So, I decided to get certified in this powerful technique, because I was

blown away by the results that I saw with clients and helping them deal

with triggers in the workplace. But I’m sure several of our listeners or

many of our listeners may not know what Havening is, so can you tell

us a little bit about what is this technique?


ST:  Yes. So Havening is a ground-breaking neuroscientific based

approach, for helping people quickly and effectively gain freedom from

anxiety-based disorders and trauma primarily. So, it’s excellent at

helping people overcome issues such as panic attacks, fears, phobias,

post-traumatic stress, pathological emotions as well, feelings of maybe

unresolved anger, grief, guilt, feelings of not feeling good enough. It’s

very good at clearing up past trauma and for building that emotional

resiliency, which we all know is very good to have in business. There

are also applications for Havening around performance, so we can use

Havening to help us, for example maybe have more confidence

socially, or for public speaking and presentations, or even going into a

business meeting. So, Havening helps us to be at our best in terms of

changing what’s actually happening inside our brains and bodies, so

that’s kind of a summary of what Havening can do.


SD:  So, what I found fascinating about it is a lot of the science behind this–

and in fact, to get certified you have to do quite an extensive science

exam, understanding the neuroscience and what’s happening in the

brain, to almost in a way rewire the neural pathways so that the same

triggers don’t happen. And so, I’d love for you to elaborate a little bit on

that, because I think it’d be important for people to understand that this

is truly scientific, and there’s been research studies on it, how it was

developed. So maybe you could share a little bit, like how was it

developed, and what exactly is happening in this technique?

The Neurobiology of Trauma & Anxiety Based Issues


ST:  Yes. Havening was originally developed by the American doctors Dr.

Ronald and Steven Ruden. Back in 2001 is really where it all began,

when Dr. Ruden started studying and examining tapping techniques,

things like TFT, and really wanting to understand how they worked

from a neuro-biological perspective. Dr. Ruden a Harvard

University academic, he’s a neuroscientific researcher, he has

published a couple of books, being published in various peer reviewed

journals, so he really comes from that background of neuroscience and

medical western thinking. So, he really wanted to understand how

trauma and anxiety-based disorders become encoded in the brain and

the body, and how we can use Havening, which is really about the

neurobiology of sensory touch, and how that can actually change

what’s happening in the brain and the body.

One of his big discoveries was that when you have a traumatic event,

or a very distressing experience where you feel trapped or a sense of

inescapable stress, something called AMPA receptors get encoded on

neurons in your amygdala, and these receptors download all the

emotional and physical stress that you’re feeling as you go through that

event or episode. So, if your heart’s palpitating, you have a knot in your

stomach, you’re sweating, you feel fear, or you feel trapped or angry,

all that data is getting encoded into the amygdala through the receptors

and also into the body. So, as you go through your life, if anything

reminds you of that past distressing event be it consciously or

subconsciously, so any cues or stimuli in your environment, it has the

potential to fire off these AMPA receptors, and release cortisol and

adrenaline in your body and create that fight, flight or freeze response.

And those traumas if you like, or distressing events, are the root cause

of almost all anxiety and stress-based issues that we all have. And

when we can pinpoint and identify those traumatic memories and

events and apply Havening to them, not only can they completely free

you from the trauma of the past, that also has a massive positive ripple

effect right into the present, to help you feel calmer and confident. In

the sense that the things that used to trigger the anxiety can’t and won’t

trigger it anymore, because those AMPA receptors are now gone and

they’ve disappeared from the amygdala. So, when something reminds

you of that event, the amygdala doesn’t fire off and fight or flight

anymore, the amygdala is now calm and at ease, which means that

you feel calm and at ease and more resilient within yourself.


SD: That’s extraordinary. And I think one of the things in doing leadership

development work that I noticed, is leaders would maybe get triggered

or upset by something that in a way they would just read it out of

proportion, they’re watching something happen. And I remember

working with one particular leader who had some challenges with

feeling surprised about things, and so it was never intentional by some

of the colleagues to do that, but man if he saw anything that felt to him

like he was being surprised, his response was outsized, it was to the

point of you don’t need to get so upset about that. And I think we’ve all

had times like why am I getting so upset about this? What is getting

under my skin about it? And so, what you’re suggesting is it has

something to do with the fact that in your past, you were in a situation

where that trauma or something related to that got encoded in the

brain, and so when you see something out there like that, you’re just

reactivating that, and it’s as if you’re right back in the thick of things. Is

that an accurate description?


ST:  That’s very close, yes. And we talk about having a vulnerable

neurochemical landscape, and the resilient neurochemical landscape.

So that person you talked about as an example, who when they feel

surprised it really upsets them, or something small becomes something

big in terms of their reaction, they’re feeling stressed or upset. The

more that’s happening for someone, the more of a vulnerable

neurochemical landscape it’s creating and producing, which means that

you can actually start developing even more anxiety-based issues.

So, you often see when stress and anxiety is left untreated or it’s not

successfully dealt with more symptoms appear. Maybe you just can’t

sleep well anymore, maybe you’re easily startled, your ability to focus

and concentrate is diminished, your ability to be creative or solve

problems is diminished. You may shy away from challenges because

you just don’t feel you’ve got the resilience to do them, you’re living on

edge and you can even become hyper-vigilant. So, if these stress

related issues are left unresolved, over time they can cause big

problems in life and in business.


For more video interviews & clients testimonials see Stephens You Tube channel


SD:  So maybe you could share little examples of how does this improve

leadership? How would this help people in business? How have you seen it applied, this

technique? And we’re going to talk about the specific technique in just a little bit, but I want to

give the context for now.


ST: Yeah. And what I’d like to do today as well is to give people an

experience of the Havening, because I want to do a live demo and get

everyone to follow along with it, and the audience can take some stress

related issue if they wish as well. First of all, stress and anxiety be it in

life or business, if left unresolved and if it’s pervasive is not a good

thing. It affects your ability to focus, to concentrate as I mentioned, it

affects your ability to make good decisions, it affects your ability to go

for things. Sometimes people become more hesitant, they start lacking

confidence, and public speaking and presentations is quite a big one I

come across in working with executives. For example, I remember

working with a lady a while back, and she got a promotion at work

where she now had to present to more senior people within her

company, and this was bringing up a lot of anxiety for her, she’s

actually having sleepless nights about it.

So, she came to me and we discovered that they all went back to

childhood, having some bad experiences at school with teachers, one

or two interviews she did when she was younger, and we Havened

them, and in the space of a couple of sessions the issue was

completely resolved. She was going in and doing the meetings and

feeling really calm, in fact, she was feeling really confident, and she

was even getting some praise about how well the meetings were going,

and that was in the space of a couple of sessions. So, the good news

is that people don’t have to suffer for long periods of times with these

types of issues, we now have a solution that works quickly and

effectively and actually produces lasting results as well.


SD:  Yeah, I love that it actually changes almost that from coming up

forever, it’s not something that you keep working on and working on

and working on. If after a couple of sessions, you’re able to transform

these from everything from public speaking to other types of triggers in

the workplace.


ST: Yeah. I’ve done over 5,000 Havening’s in the past eight years.


SD: Wow.

Overcoming Anxiety Program


ST:  And my approach is like a four-session program for the vast majority of

people, and even within the space of session one and two, for so many

people, most if not all of the anxiety issues are resolved. Then we start

really moving into more resiliency work, where we’re looking at the

future and helping to increase their confidence, their productivity. We

look at their goals and have them really move towards what they want,

as opposed to moving away from what they don’t want. So, I’ve seen it

time after time again, so have my colleagues around the world, in

regards to how remarkable and effective the Havening is for these

types of anxiety and stress-based issues.


SD: Yes. Yeah. What if you can’t remember a specific memory, does it still work? You just

know that you’re generally anxious, but you don’t know where it comes from.


ST: Well, when we train Havening practitioners, part of the training is we

teach you how to pinpoint and identify where the issues are coming

from. Because even when clients ring me, they’ll often say to me ‘well I

don’t know where the issue’s coming from’, or ‘I don’t know what

caused it’. And my answer generally is well that’s not really your job,

that’s my job as if you like the expert, to pinpoint and identify where it’s

coming from so you don’t have to worry about that. But I suppose worst

case scenario, if the therapist doesn’t even know where it’s coming

from or they’re not sure, we can use Havening on the presenting

problem. And so, if it’s something that’s happening on a daily or weekly

basis, we can start using the Havening immediately on the current

stressor. As you know, when we use Havening as well, it can bring a

lot of stuff up from the unconscious into the client’s conscious

awareness, and that can help us also to reveal and identify where

some of these symptoms are coming from.


SD:  Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So, tell us a little bit about the technique, you mentioned using

psychosomatic touch, what does that mean? And this is something we do for ourselves, I’m



ST:  Yeah. So Havening is a psychosensory approach, which means that

we use sensory touch where we gently stroke the arms, the palms of

the hands and around the face, and we also use pleasant

psychological distractions. So, when we’re working with someone with

a stress related issue or an anxiety-based issue, we would ask them

for example, to close their eyes, and think about or remember

something that’s caused them stress or that’s causing them anxiety in

the present. Then we’ll ask them on a scale of zero to 10, 10 being very

uncomfortable, very stressed, and zero being calm, how high did it go,

that helps to activate the amygdala. Now we only do that for about 30

seconds, then we ask the client to open up their eyes and then we

apply the Havening touch, which the client can self-apply.

When we’re applying the Havening touch it’s producing something

called Delta waves in the brain which occur in slow wave sleep, so it

starts calming the whole brain down. And simultaneously, the Delta

waves start to produce positive neuro-transmitters in the brain and the

body, chemicals such as serotonin, oxytocin. So that starts calming the

whole body down, your heart rate starts to reduce, your nervous

system calms down, your breathing slows down, it puts you into a very

calm relaxed state, both emotionally and physically within seconds and

minutes, because your brain is an electrical chemical organ, it’s

important to understand that. So, when we’re applying sensory touch

we’re actually producing an electrical brainwave, that’s simultaneously

changing the chemistry of the brain and calming the whole system



SD: Great. And what I understand, there are three different types of

Havening and this is what you do for yourself. So, one is rubbing your

hands down your arms from the tops of your shoulders to your elbows,

in kind of like an every second path. The other one is rubbing the

palms of your hands together back and forth, that’s also one of the

techniques, and the third one is called washing the face, which is

you’re taking your hands across the forehead and down the cheeks,

across the forehead and down the cheeks. And in doing the research, I

understand it’s particularly the cheek, touching the cheek, self-touching

the cheek, that can produce the greatest Delta wave. And so, the

greater the Delta wave the more you’re actually transitioning that piece

that you talked about, the AMPA receptor that begins to get dissolved

and no longer is it a neural pathway that’s locked in. Is that accurate?


ST: Right. Yes, pretty much so. So, we call this Havening touch, and it’s worth

mentioning that the word Havening comes from the word Haven, so we’re Havening you,

we’re bringing you to a safe place, to a safe Haven. And that’s the emotional, physical effect

and feeling, is a feeling of comfort, safety, calmness. So, these are the three key areas, when

the doctor studied the three points in the body, the arms, the hands and face produced the

highest amplitude of Delta waves in the brain, so we can do a demo for everyone to follow



SD:   Yeah, let’s do it.


ST:  I do know there’s a podcast on this as well, so if you’re listening to the podcast you can

jump onto the YouTube video, or just simply follow along by stroking your arms, your hands

and your face quite gently.


SD:  Sounds great. Let’s do it.

how to do havening

How to do Havening Technique to help relieve anxiety


ST:  So, for everyone listening, I don’t want you to take anything too

traumatic or too stressful. In other words, don’t take some massive

trauma from your past, maybe take something that’s creating some sort

of annoyance, or something that maybe is stressing you in your life at

the moment, that’s preoccupying your mind that you’d like to get a

positive shift on or some freedom from. So, we’re going to begin. I’d

just like you to follow my instructions and sit back and relax for a

moment, and I’d like everyone just to close their eyes. And with your

eyes closed just focus on your breathing and the sound of my voice,

and I’d like you to think about something that’s making you feel

uncomfortable, something that has been stressing you maybe recently,

or over the last few weeks or months, or even something that’s causing

you some sort of anxiety. Really think about it in your mind, picture it,

think of the sounds associated to it, really focusing on what’s causing

the distress, or what makes you feel most uncomfortable.

And just notice on the scale of zero to 10 how high do you go, 10 is

very uncomfortable, zero is calm and neutral. Just notice if you can feel

it in your body and the emotion, then open your eyes, just look at me,

clear your minds. Then I’d like you to put one hand on your shoulder

and one hand on the other shoulder, just crossing your body, and then

begin very gently stroking from the top of your shoulder all the way

down to the elbows. Imagine if you were comforting a child, breathe in

gently, stroking a dog or a cat, and then gently close your eyes. And

then I’d like you to imagine walking out onto a beautiful beach on a

bright summer’s day, begin to imagine a beautiful blue sky, the yellow

sand, the sound of the waves lapping in against the shore. And as you

imagine walking along this tranquil beach count out loud from one to 20

with every step you imagine taking. And I’ll count with you starting at 1,

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, relaxing with every step, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16,

17, 18, 19, 20.

Very good, keep stroking, keep your eyes closed. Then we’re going to

do an auditory distraction, and this can be a bit of fun, we’re going to

sing a happy song and it can be anything at all, let’s take row your

boat, so you can sing along or hum along with me. [Singing] ‘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’. Very good. Keep

stroking from the top of the shoulder all the way down to the elbows,

taking a slow and gentle breath. And just ask yourself on the scale of

10 to zero what number comes to mind now, and just go with the first

number that comes to mind, and then I’d like you to look at me for a

moment, gently open your eyes. Let’s do some palm Havening. So

palm Havening is where we just gently massage the palms of the

hands together, talk about washing our hands, gently caressing,

massaging the palms, just to get those Delta waves going, and then

gently close your eyes and keep massaging the palms.

And this time we’re going to count backwards down from 30 to zero in

twos out loud together starting at 30, 28, 26, 24, 22, relaxing with every

number, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 0. Now keep stroking the

palms of your hands, and this time I’d like everyone to sing happy

birthday to me for the fun of it, so let’s begin [Singing] ‘happy birthday

to you’.


SD: ‘Happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Stephen, happy birthday to



ST: ‘Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear

Stephen, happy birthday to you’. Very good. And take in a slow gentle

breath, and keep massaging and caressing the palms of your hands as

you do. And just notice, noticing your mind and body can relax, and just

notice on a scale of 10 to zero what number comes to mind now, and

just go with the first number that comes to mind. Keep stroking, then

gently open up your eyes and look at me. And now we’re going to do

some face Havening, the face actually produces the highest amplitude

of Delta waves in the brain, so stroking gently round your forehead and

around your cheeks, gently massaging and caressing your face, or

gently washing your face. But this time gently close your eyes, and I

want you to think about a time when you were on a beautiful holiday,

maybe it was on a beach again, or maybe you were walking through

the countryside, or some mountains with beautiful scenery, or maybe it

was a beautiful city or park that you’re walking through.

Just go back to a very pleasant happy memory of time when you were

on a lovely holiday. And as you begin to imagine that scene of that

place you were in, really picture it in your mind, what you saw, the

sounds, and with every step you imagine taking, count out loud from

one to 20, starting at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16,

17, 18, 19, 20. Good. Taking a slow gentle breath, keep stroking. And

this time just hum twinkle star with me, [Singing] ‘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’. Very good, keep stroking, taking in a slow gentle breath. And now

gently open up your eyes, and we’ll just finish off with a few strokes on

the arms again. Just close your eyes for a moment, taking in a slow

gentle breath, feeling that sense of relaxation and comfort from gently

massaging your arms from the top of the shoulders all the way down to

the elbows.

And just notice on a scale of 10 to zero what number comes to mind

now. And if you wish you can go back and watch this video as well, and

do even a few more rounds of the Havening and repeat this entire

process. But I’d like everyone now just to open up their eyes, take a

little stretch if you wish. So, it’ll be interesting to see and check in how

everyone’s feeling, do feel free to leave comments on the video, and

we can come back and give you some feedback, or give you some

more tips or advice. But what I’d like everyone to do for a moment, just

notice how you’re feeling. Some people may notice they feel a bit

lighter, a bit calmer, a bit more relaxed, some people feel a bit tired or

spacey, it’s also worth checking in on the memory. So, I’d like everyone

just to close their eyes for a moment, that’s it, just relax, and think

about that thing that was causing you some discomfort or stress and

just notice what the difference is.

Often, you’ll find that the image itself, the memories if there’s any

image to it or sounds, will seem more distant or faded or blurry or

fuzzy. Even the sounds themselves, you mightn’t be able to hear them

quite as clearly, and that emotional and physiological feeling that was

attached will now be reduced, and for some people it might even be

completely gone. So, as I said do feel free to share on the comments



SD: Yeah. I picked–my parents are in their mid-eighties, and my concern

for them given the pandemic, it creates a lot of anxiety of keeping them

healthy and away from any harm. I feel a lot calmer about it. You know

it’s keeping me up at night, so I feel like that was a good one. I

definitely feel a little bit more sense of peace and calm around it.


ST:  Great.


SD:  Thank you for that.


ST:  What’s lovely about Havening is you can use it every day, it’s a brilliant

technique. Especially while I do work with people in business and

executives, they’re generally really busy, they don’t have loads of time

to do hours of meditation or mindfulness and yoga every week, some

of them do, but a lot of them don’t. So, what’s great about this

technique, you can use it anywhere once you’ve got your hands with

you and once you start applying it. Even four or five minutes a day can

really regulate your stress, keep your resiliency high. If there was

something that was bothering you that was ongoing, you could use

Havening over a couple of days and that can keep clearing it, keeping

the stress low, and you’ll probably get to a point very quickly where the

emotional charge will just be gone from it, and you’ll be able to think

more clearly on how to handle the issue if it’s something that needs to

be dealt with in the present, if it’s something in the past it’ll just become

like any old memory.


SD: So, when people do this, should they try to also do some of the

counting or the humming techniques? Should they do that? And why

do we do that? Why is that part of the technique?


ST: Yes, great question. The distraction does look strange, some people

can even feel a wee bit silly doing the humming at the beginning.


SD: Right.


ST: What the distraction does, it helps to displace the stress or memory out

of your working memory, because your brain can’t really think of two

different things at the same time. It’s also giving you an escape to

something more pleasant in that moment. So, as well as the sensory

touch creating the electrical chemical changes, psychologically you’re

bringing yourself to a safe haven, to a more relaxed place. And it just

makes the treatment if you like more pleasant for the client, that you’re

not sitting there going through the trauma and the stress, replaying it

over and over and over. It’s really the case of activating the amygdala,

if there’s AMPA receptors there, once they activate there’s a phosphate

molecule exposed, that’s why we activate it.

And once that’s exposed the Delta waves are creating chemicals that

are delinking that phosphate molecule off and making those AMPA

receptors disappear. So, it’s really triggering off the anxiety or stress for

maybe 10, 30 seconds, and then getting into the Havening and the

distraction. And that’s what’s great about it as well, you know some

people spend–in some traditional therapies, going over the same

problems and getting very upset. This approach is very different, it’s

much more about obviously pinpointing the issue, but actually getting

you a very tangible, if not a life-changing result.


SD: Incredible. I am so grateful that you joined us today to walk us through

this technique and share what’s possible for people. Given the amount

of stress that’s going on right now, I think a lot of executives and

entrepreneurs could really use the down regulation of the amygdala.

So how can people learn more? What do you suggest to get in touch

with you, or any other information you’d like to pass on?


ST:  Yeah. What I would like to say, if you have serious issues, deeper

trauma if you like or anxiety-based disorders, it’s best to work with a

certified Havening techniques practitioner. I run trainings as well in

Havening so people can go onto my website, I know you’re going to

share it on the link see Havening Technique Training or just type my name into

Google, lots of information will come up, there’s lots of information

there about Havening. I do do one-to-one sessions on Zoom, I

booked up for about two months in advance, but do feel

free to call me, contact me, and I can do a free phone consultation. I

generally do about 10, 15 minutes, just to make sure that the issue is a

good fit for my program and the way I work for clients see hypnotherapy Dublin 

for more information


SD: Fantastic. Well, thank you so much. We’ll put all that information in the

show notes. Yeah, I feel much better, I’m ready to keep going for the

day [Chuckles].


ST:   Great. And after that little demo we did, if you want to you can go back

and do another few rounds of the Havening again if there’s still a

residue there, or if you want to just experience and practice the

Havening, just go back and rewatch the video. And as I said, do share

some comments, and we’re more than happy to give you some



SD: Fantastic. Well, thanks so much for joining us today, and thanks for

listening in, and we’ll look forward to the next episode.

Hope you enjoyed today’s episode. And I’d like to point you to the next

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