Hypnotherapy for anxiety with Havening

How I use hypnotherapy for anxiety related issues in combination with Havening Techniques® is the main topic I discuss in this Mindyou podcast interview with Brian Barnes.

hypnotherapy for anxiety

You can listen to full interview below or read the transcript.

BB: Hello, and you’re very welcome to Mindyou, where I dive into how

different people use different ways to self-care. I’m Brian Barnes from

Brian Barnes Wellbeing, where I partner with people to create

unique wellbeing solutions. Today, I’m delighted to be talking to

Stephen Travers. Stephen has a huge passion for serving and minding

others through his work as a clinical hypnotherapist, as an NLP

practitioner, as a Havening practitioner, and as the Director of U.K and

International Havening, so Stephen, thank you so much for talking with

me today.


ST: Thanks for having me, Brian.


BB: Thanks Stephen. And Stephen can you start off just by telling me a bit

about yourself and how you got to healing?


ST:  So, I’ve always had a passion for all things psychology related, and my

journey really started back in my early twenties, where I actually ended

up working in sales and marketing, because I was very interested in

the psychology of sales, influence, persuasion. And I ended up

becoming a sales trainer for various multinational companies, but I

ended up getting anxiety and panic attacks along the way, which then

led me to trying to find a solution. So I went to the doctor, he told me

maybe to go and see a counsellor, I contacted one or two counsellors,

it sounded like I may have to spend months doing counselling, maybe

even longer, so I decided to look at different options. And I was aware

of obviously NLP from the sales work that I’d been doing, and I was

also aware of hypnosis and hypnotherapy for anxiety. So, I decided to do a bit of

research, and I found a course in Ireland with the Institute of Clinical

Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy.


They were running a diploma course and I was very interested in it,

and I thought I would if you like kill two birds with the one stone, and

enrol in the course with the aim of also resolving and getting to the root

of my own anxiety issues. I did the course, loved it, it made a massive

difference to my own challenges using hypnotherapy for anxiety

and I decided then to become a full-time therapist, and this is back around 2003

I really made it my mission back then that I was going to keep learning

this whole field of healing, psychology, and aim to find the most

effective psychological & hypnotherapy for anxiety techniques that would help

me to help my clients. So that was a mission I made, we actually wrote out a mission

statement back then, and that’s what I put in it. And over the last 17

years I’ve been doing a lot of learning myself, attending a lot of

trainings, and I ended up becoming a trainer myself over the last

decade, I used to train NLP, some hypnosis, and in the last six years

I’ve been training therapists in Havening techniques.


BB: Wow, that’s a fascinating journey Stephen, and a fascinating toolkit that

you have, thanks for sharing that with me. And let’s dive in deeper into

how you mind and serve others, let’s say day to day, if someone

comes to you with an issue like anxiety, where do you start off with



ST: Yeah. I really now specialise using hypnotherapy for anxiety based disorders

& building resilience with clients, especially in the areas of confidence. So

really what I do first of all is a free phone consultation for about 15, 20

minutes, because I really want to make sure that the client is a good fit

for the way I work with people, and most people are. So when I’m

working with someone with anxiety issues, I aim to pinpoint and identify

what’s causing their anxiety, be it the panic attacks, the post traumatic

stress, it could even be something like chronic pain, social anxiety, IBS.

Because what we’ve discovered through the neuroscience over the last

decade or so, when you look at the neuroscience and the neurobiology

of trauma and anxiety, almost all anxiety-based disorders are going to

be caused by some past trauma that’s unresolved. And when we can

pinpoint and identify that trauma, be it traumatic events or a very

stressful episode in someone’s life, if we can go in and if you like

change their brain chemistry around that, and down regulate that

trauma and stress in their mind and body, that will often make a

significant if not a major positive difference to how they’re feeling in the

present. And one of the main modalities that I use that I find is

incredibly effective is the Havening techniques that I use in our

hypnotherapy for anxiety program


BB: Yeah, and I’ve seen Havening in action, because Stephen I work

in mental health. And as you said the whole thing about

trauma, and usually childhood trauma, the research tells us now at

least 90% of any mental illness is childhood trauma, so it’s that whole

trauma led care, so it all goes back to trauma of some type. So, the

Havening technique, can you tell us a little bit more about the Havening

technique and how it works Stephen?

For Hypnotherapy for anxiety with Havening Techniques client video testimonials see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_OGpaa4AOg&t=26s


ST: Havening first of all, was developed by my good friends and colleagues

Doctor Ronald and Steven Ruden. It’s got over 15 years research

behind it, it’s a psychosensory approach, which means we use sensory

touch where you apply sensory touch gently on your arms, hands and

face as if you were comforting a child, so it’s very gentle, almost like a

light massage. And then we use pleasant psychological visualisation

and distraction techniques, so that’s kind of the mechanics behind the

Havening. And when we pinpoint and identify a traumatic memory,

where something that’s really triggering the anxiety within someone,

we’ll ask someone for example to close their eyes, we’ll scale it on a

scale of zero to 10, 10 being very distressed when they think about it,

and zero’s calm and relaxed.


We’ll trigger off the amygdala, we know there’s little receptors there

that fire, then we proceed to apply the gentle Havening touch, and we

distract the person away from the traumatic memory or whatever it is

that’s stressing them. And then the Havening goes in and it changes

the brain chemistry, it calms the whole system down, and removes the

emotional and physiological distress from the memory or the trigger.

Then we can go back and ask the person to think about the thing that

was really upsetting or distressing them or making them feel anxious,

and what you’ll almost always find, is that the emotional charge and the

physiological fight flight reaction will be gone. So, it’s incredibly

effective, in fact from tens of thousands of case studies we can

consistently remove the trauma from almost all traumatic memories

under 10 minutes, that’s how effective it is, and we have the

neuroscience to back it up.


BB: That’s amazing. And like yourself Stephen, I have a big background in

psychology and mental health, and hypnotherapy and coaching and

NLP, I have a huge passion for that. But you mentioned about the

neuroscience for Havening, are we talking about rerouting neural

pathways with the Havening?


ST:  Yes, we’re working primarily with the limbic system, with the amygdala.

I suppose the big discovery or breakthrough Dr. Ruden made, is he

figured out how traumatic memories become encoded in the brain and

the body, and then how to use sensory touch to if you like change that

or remove the trauma. So, we’re talking about switching off neuro

pathway signals and specifically something–without going into too

much detail, but specifically something called AMPA receptors, that get

encoded on the amygdala at the time of the trauma. And these

receptors get stuck there and they hold the emotional stress and

physiological distress. So, if the person at the time is feeling anxious,

fearful, angry, their heart’s palpitating, they have a knot in their

stomach, they’re sweating, if anything reminds them of that past event

consciously or unconsciously, or by even thinking about it, it fires these

receptors off, and within milliseconds it brings back the symptoms from

the original trauma.


So, when we ask someone to think of a memory their amygdala fires

off Brian, the sensory touch produces Delta waves in the brain, which

occur when you feel very calm and relaxed. And these Delta waves go

in and they remove the AMPA receptors off the neurons in the

amygdala, and that switches off that neural pathway signal to the

autonomic nervous system, so it delinks and removes that emotional

and physiological distress from the thought or the memory. And any

stimuli or cues in that person’s environment that was triggering off the

anxiety from that past trauma won’t be able to trigger it off anymore,

because those neural pathway signals are now switched off, we shut it

down. So, there is a lot of neuroscience behind it, that’s a bit of an

overview and a bit of detail as well on how it actually works. This is one

the reasons why we use Havening in our hypnotherapy for anxiety program

because it is highly effective.


BB: Absolutely. And Stephen, let’s say on a more practical level, let’s say if

there’s someone listening wondering could Havening Technique Training help me,

could you give us a real-life idea of someone that comes to you? Like an

issue that you see quite regularly, and let’s say how Havening would

work on a real-life issue.


ST: Well, look I work with so many different issues, but it always comes

down to the same common denominator. Well, I’ll give you an example

actually, like I often do talks to groups that are therapists, even to the

general public on Havening, and I always like to do a live demo, just to

actually show what Havening does. And last year back in March I was

speaking in a hotel in Dublin, just before the coronavirus hit us, and I

brought up someone who had a lifelong severe dentist phobia. And I

started asking her some questions about when did it start, what caused

it, and she was really unclear about it. But she proceeded to tell me

that when she was at primary school there was a dentist there that the

schoolchildren felt uncomfortable about, because they were telling

horror stories about going to this dentist and there was a bit of fear

around it, but there was no specific traumatic memory there.


So, I asked her ‘well what’s the problem when you think of going to the

dentist or try and go?’, and she said that she starts gagging like she

can’t breathe, and starts feeling panic and fear and she can’t stay in

the chair, she feels like she’s almost suffocating. So, I then simply

asked her ‘well when was a time that you experienced that type of

feeling? Was there ever even just one event? It could be you were

swimming, something that happened in the water, or maybe something

else’. Then she had a think, and she proceeded to tell me that she

remembered that when she was around nine or 10, she had to go to

get braces and she had to get a mould put into her mouth. And when

the mould was being put into her mouth, she felt like it was blocking up

her throat and she was starting to suffocate, and she literally had a

panic attack, so that was the actual event that was causing the



And the reason I knew why was because I got her to close her eyes, I

checked on the SUD score, ten being very distressed, zero being calm,

she went right up to a nine, she got extremely uncomfortable, we

proceeded to apply the Havening, dropped down the scale, once again

under 10 minutes to zero, and the emotional charge from the memory

was completely gone. When I asked her to think about the dentist that

was also completely gone, the fear around it. And she even left me a

five-star Google review a couple of weeks later telling me that the

dentist phobia issue was now completely gone, she couldn’t believe it,

because we did it in about 15 minutes with a bit of history intake that I

did as well, so that’s an example of what we can do, and we did that in

front of a group of 40 people. For clients testimonials & success stories

see hypnotherapy reviews 


BB: Wow, that’s amazing. And I suppose that whole anxiety around going

to the dentist would be a common thing, so that’s amazing.


ST: Yeah, well the point is Brian, sometimes what you think may be the

problem may not be, in the sense of I was assuming oh this is going to

be something that’s got to do with a bad experience at the dentist, but

there was something a little bit different with the brain, did that

association, sitting in a chair and opening up your mouth

and being trapped, that was the trauma that caused it, when she was

getting the mould done.


BB: Absolutely, absolutely. And again, that magical transformation in that

person which is amazing. Well Stephen, thank you so much for sharing

that with me about how you mind others, and can you tell me now how

you mind you?


ST:  Yeah, well my philosophy around minding myself and even something I

impart with my clients, I’m a great believer in doing what you love and

love what you do, and designing your life that way. So, filling up your

day with inspiring actions and behaviours, putting yourself first, and for

me that’s part of the recipe to living a fulfilling life. So that’s kind of an

overview of my approach, so there’s different things we may do with

exercise, and having a fulfilling career and relationships, but that’s my

overall philosophy, do what you love and love what you do.


BB: Okay, that’s beautiful. Because I suppose when I talk to clients about

self-care it’s putting yourself first, it’s from the inside out, and you have

to make yourself a priority, you have to actually make yourself feel that

you deserve to be looked after.


ST: Right. Because if you don’t fill up your day with high priority actions and

put yourself first nobody else will.


BB: Yeah, exactly. I heard a great quote recently about happiness, it’s hard

to find happiness inside, but it’s impossible to find it outside, so it all

comes from within.


ST: Yeah, absolutely.


BB: Beautiful. Well Stephen, thank you so much for sharing that with me,

and can you tell me where people can find you? I know there’s some

training, and you have some information about upcoming Havening.


ST: Yeah, we’re actually doing a free introduction to the Havening

techniques in regards to helping people overcome anxiety, trauma,

stress. It’s specifically for therapists and mental health professionals,

so that’s anyone who’s working in therapy, that’s on the 19th of August,

it’s on at 4:00pm and it runs until 5:30pm, that’s Ireland/UK time. I will

also do a live demo on that and that’s live on Zoom, so anyone who’s

listening you can attend from anywhere in the world, I think we’ll put a

link to that as well. And then we have our two-day certified Havening

techniques training live on Zoom on the 18th and 19th of September, so

for people who are interested in becoming certified that’s happening

then. But the free intro will also be a good introduction to finding out

much more about Havening, and how it can benefit you as a therapist

or client.


BB: Perfect. And your website, Stephen?


ST:  Hypnotherapy for anxiety Dublin


BB: Perfect, perfect. Well Stephen, I’ll put a link up for your website and for

that Havening training, I’ll stick it with the podcast. And again, thank

you so much for being so kind and so generous, and for sharing with

me how use Havening & hypnotherapy for anxiety  & how you mind others

and how you mind you. Best of luck with everything you do in the future.


ST: My pleasure Brian, and same to you.


BB: Thanks Stephen.


ST:  Thank you.

For a free 15 minute free consultation about our Hypnotherapy for anxiety program with Havening call 01 484 7834 or email [email protected] with your name and number for a callback.