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.
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
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
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
BB: Perfect. And your website, Stephen?
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.