In this radio interview Stephen Travers discusses how the Havening Techniques can help you quickly and effectively overcome stress, anxiety, panic attacks, fear and worry. Deborah Walker is the interviewer in Natural Health Radio.
Today on food for thought I’m with Stephen Travers. Stephen graduated from The Institute of Clinical Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy in 2005 in Clinical Hypnotherapy. During the last decade Stephen has successfully treated thousands of people for smoking, weight loss, anxiety, stress, panic attacks, trauma, phobias, confidence, and a variety of other psychological and emotional issues as you’d expect with his training.
But he’s also the main trainer for the Havening Technique in Ireland. A technique I’m very interested in learning more about today. I was reading a few years ago about Dr. Ruden’s work and book called “When the Past Is Always Present”, and I’m hoping to learn quite a lot more from Stephen today. Welcome Stephen, how are you?
I’m very well Debbie, thank you. How are you?
I’m fine. Now Dr. Ruden presents in his book which is a neurobiological theory for an exposure therapy that involves re-experiencing a trauma coupled with sensory stimulation. Tell me more about that theory.
Yes well it is best to go back and look at how it all developed. The story goes like this. Paul McKenna the famous hypnotherapist is friends with Dr. Ruden. And about 15 years ago he was talking to Dr. Ruden about tapping therapies such like Thought Field Therapy (TFT) which I’m sure you’ve heard about, which is about tapping meridian points on the body.
Dr. Ruden went off and started getting some good results with the tapping which made him very curious about why it was working. Because there was a lot of talk about meridian points and chi energy as part of the reason that makes tapping work. But Dr. Ruden being a neuro scientific researcher, a Western scientific thinker had different ideas about why it was working.
So he went did a 10-year study to find out why like tapping was working. In the process he actually discovered and worked out exactly how trauma gets encoded in the brain and the body. Then he worked out how to completely and permanently clear it within minutes. And that’s where the Havening Techniques come in.
So there’s a lot of neuroscience behind Dr. Ruden’s work. He discovered to put it in a nutshell is that there is something called AMPA receptors that get stuck on a part of the brain called the amygdala which controls our stress response. These little AMPA receptors encode the emotional and physical stress symptoms of a traumatic event or experience.
When we work with someone with Havening we activate the trauma and we apply Havening which is a psychosensory approach. We use sensory touch and pleasant psychological distraction. The touch creates delta waves in the brain and these delta waves remove the AMPA receptors off the neurons in the amygdala. This completely switches off the emotional and physical stress response from the trauma. And this can happen within minutes. And once the trauma’s cleared its completely and permanently gone!
And it happens that quickly?
It happens that quickly yes. I can appreciate some people may be skeptical a bit about that, but part of the reason why it happens so quickly is because the brain is an electrical chemical organ. So when we do the Havening touch, which is stroking the arms, the hands, and the face, it’s producing an electrical brain wave called a delta wave. These delta waves are the same type of brain waves that happen when you sleep, or when you feel deeply relaxed, or if you’re in a deep meditation. And these delta waves which are an electrical current literally go right inside the neurons with the AMPA receptors. There they produce a chemical called calcineurin inside the neurons.The calcineurin removes the AMPA-receptors off the neurons. It’s an electrical chemical change that’s happening rapidly.
So if you think about like a light i.e. electricity, the second you click the switch instantly you’ve got light. I’m sure when electricity was discovered it seemed amazing. Suddenly you could click a switch and the whole room is illuminated. That’s part of the reason why Havening Techniques work so quickly and effectively. It’s because it’s changing things at the electrical level in the brain.
And how are they identifying the neurological shifts? What research has been done? At the same time as the Havening technique has been happening?
Yes well Dr. Ruden himself is a Harvard graduate university academic. He’s a medical doctor and has invested in over a decade researching Havening. He did a lot of research with a guy called Mel Harper who is a neuro scientific researcher as well. So Ruden did a lot of work with Mel Harper and which developed the science.
There’s also been a study done by King’s College in London by a psychiatrist called professor Neil Greenberg. Dr. Ruden, Paul McKenna and a couple of other clinicians were involved in the study. They were treating post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. The results from that study were quite phenomenal. That research is actually available online as well, you can now see the full report of that actual study.
Dr. Ruden also treated thousands of his own patients in his private medical practice in New York. And so did his brother Dr. Stephen Ruden. Between the both of them they treated thousands of clients over a decade period. So they built up this body of case studies and research on how effective the treatment is. That’s a snapshot of some of the research that’s been going on. There’s still ongoing research at the moment with different studies happening in the US and UK.
So there is quite a body of research behind it. Now how different is this or how much of a move move I should ask because that would be of more interest to me from Dr. Roger Callahan’s work with TFT. And then Craig’s work with EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), how much of a move-on is it from those two pieces of work?
A highly significant one. I’ve trained and I am certified in both TFT and EFT. That was a part of my own training over the last decade. I used to use TFT quite a bit with very good results.
So what I found with Havening was that understanding the neuroscience behind it and how trauma becomes encoded allowed me to actually pinpoint the root cause of traumatic memories. So it gets right to the root of what’s causing the stress symptoms. Because that’s very important to achieve a really complete lasting result with clearing trauma.
Understanding the neuroscience and the neuro biology of how trauma and stress is encoded really helped me to get even better outcomes for my clients.. The Havening Techniques achieve better and often even quicker results. It’s more of a complete result on both the emotional, psychological and physical levels.
For example after I clear a traumatic memory with Havening I can literally get the client to go back to that traumatic event no matter how severe the trauma or stress was and say to them “go back now and do your best to get the trauma back. ‘Try your best to bring back the negative stress” and no matter how hard they try they won’t be able to. The emotional and physiological stress symptoms are completely gone, and when you find the root cause memory ( memories) that were causing the trauma it won’t come back. It’s gone for good.
So Dr. Ruden has taken it to next level like. We do have to thank Roger Callahan of course, you know he’s the one who developed TFT and tapping over 30 years ago. His work was groundbreaking for its time and in many ways still is. But Dr. Ruden’s work is really the natural evolution in psycho sensory techniques. It’s the next stage the next part of the evolution. And who knows in another 10 or 20 years or maybe sooner we might get another breakthrough. And how to do it even quicker and faster or another way of doing things. But for the moment for me Havening is the most effective consistent approach I’ve come across to date for clearing trauma
Now is Dr. Ruden establishing stronger links with Eastern healing maps or not?
See Dr. Ruden would approach it more from the Western academic perspective because he is a medical doctor. That’s his training.That’s his background. And works with other doctors. He does talks in America and training’s in the US, so I suppose from his perspective he likes to be able to get up in front of a group of clinicians, be it doctors or academics, and be able to explain it from that neuro scientific perspective. As opposed to the more Eastern one.
In some ways that was part of the challenge with things like TFT and EFT. Like we knew it worked very well for a lot of issues, but we couldn’t exactly explain from a Western neuro scientific perspective why it worked, and that created some problems in its acceptance in mainstream psychology.
But with Havening one of the best assets is the neuroscience behind it. We can actually explain why it works specifically and then clearly demonstrate it consistently through the practical treatments.
Is that meaning more doctors are actually training in it, or is it still alternative therapists?
Both. Many doctors have already done the training in both the US and the UK and also in Ireland because of the neuroscientific background of the treatment. So it is gaining more acceptance from the medical establishment because of the science behind it and the fact that it was actually developed and created by a medical doctor. As I mentioned Dr. Ruden is a neuroscientific researcher so that gives it its own credibility to the treatments and where he’s coming from with his research.
There’s been a massive amounts of brain research happened in the last few decades hasn’t there? Particularly around neuro plasticity and the ability of it to change its structure and function through thoughts and experience, and to change gene expression and things like that. From your experience where is this going next do you think? How is this part of that exploration?
Well what we’ve discovered with Havening for example is that someone who was traumatized will have a more vulnerable neurochemical landscape.This means that they tend me more prone to suffer from stress, trauma, phobias, and future life stressors. They tend to be more vulnerable to being affected by them.
What we’ve discovered with Havening is that it actually produces a more resilient neuro chemical landscape because it increases oxytocin, gaba and serotonin. It removes the AMPA receptors that produced the trauma. It’s actually changing the neural pathways. We are changing the brain from a vulnerable neuro chemical landscape that’s been affected by stress and trauma, and producing a more resilient neurochemical landscape within the clients
Through Havening we can install positive states within our clients. We can teach them how to self apply Havening and that keeps the brain strong if you like. It keeps stress levels low. It helps keep serotonin levels stable and overall it produces that more resilient neurochemical landscape.
We’ve also discovered that when we Haven someone, because of all these delta waves that are being produced we can implant more positive thoughts and behaviors within the client. Like obviously I use a lot of hypnosis and I find that when I incorporate Havening with NLP techniques and hypnosis the NLP and the hypnosis techniques I’m using work much better for the clients. It sticks better. We can explain that in the sense that Havening produces this delta sleep wave in the brain. So you’re in a more suggestible state when these delta waves are flowing through the brain. The brain then accepts more easily what we’re putting in there through the power of suggestion, visualization, ideas and new behaviors, etc.
So I’m quite excited about that. We call that Growth Havening which is really more about self-development and how to use Havening to design your life, change your behaviors, etc. and produce more positive states and emotions within yourself.
So it’s a natural progression on from dealing with the trauma stage to a future stage?
Yes essentially. There’s also Transpirational Havening which we use to clear traumatic memories and negative pathological emotions. Emotions such as anger, grief, guilt, stress, fear, worry. And once we’ve cleared them we then use the Growth Havening Techniques such as Affirmational Havening and Outcome Havening to ensure the client is even more resilient moving forward and for personal development.
Paul McKenna is big fan of Havening and that’s part of the reason why he is such an enthusiastic advocate of it. Because he can see the potential. He uses Havening with NLP and hypnosis technioques to great effect. And so do I because it help gets the results we want for our clients quickly and effectively.
So what type of client would you be dealing with? Because from my perspective “trauma” and I imagine a lot of people were thinking, trauma is actually a big thing that someone’s experiencing but you’ve mentioned things like anger, guilt,stress, fear, worry… What type of client would you be dealing with?
About 80% of my clients come in for anxiety, trauma & stress related issues. Issues such as panic attacks, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder. And then the negative emotional states. They just feel stuck. They’re feeling angry. They’re feeling frustrated. They’re worrying a lot. They’re having sleep problems, insomnia, inescapable stress… and when I talk about trauma they can all be the symptoms of trauma. They’re all the consequences that are produced by unresolved trauma.
I know in Ireland and in the UK, we don’t necessarily use the word “trauma” that much. People often associate it with soldiers fighting wars, or some extremely dreadful experience, but day-to-day stuff in life can cause trauma. Getting stuck in an elevator, a relationship breaking up, a negative experience at school when maybe you’re embarrassed by your teacher can be a traumatic event for some people. It can be affecting them in that way.
So I suppose it’s better in some ways to take the word “trauma” out of it and talk about the actual conditions that Havening actually treats. which I mentioned just there.
I’m a Naturopath and I see that there’s always a percentage of people who come to me and their diet is absolutely perfect, or the diet is not the issue and I know it’s not the issue, and I have to help them to get to the point where they realize that controlling their diet further and further isn’t the issue, and at that point I then try and pass them on to another practitioner. I believe there’s actually more… let’s use the word “trauma”, actually happening in people’s lives that are creating more issues. This could be a really good therapy for them to use to actually resolve that.
Yes. If you think about it, most psychotherapists and counselor what they’re working with is anxiety, trauma & stress related issues. That’s why most people come to therapists, because there is a type of anxiety or stress in their life that’s causing a problem.
Even with weight loss it is emotional reasons why they’re over eating. It’s unresolved stress issues, anger, and people are trying to use food to change the way the feel. They’re comfort eating. So what I do with them is I use Havening to really pinpoint what’s causing their emotional eating. Then I Haven the memories or the negative emotions that’s causing the problem. Once we successfully do that we often find that the emotional eating stops very quickly or at least significantly reduces.
So the over eating is more a symptom as opposed to the main problem. The main problem is often what’s behind the over eating which is negative types of emotions or even some sort of trauma.
I agree. Now what exactly are you doing when you’re doing a Havening Technique to someone?
So someone comes in to me, I would sit with them and explain a little bit about the neuroscience behind Havening. Why it works, how it works. I would do an intake with them, or personal history, where I talk to them about their past. I’d pinpoint the negative memories, the things that’s distressing them. Then when I find them I may do something called Event Havening where we clear a distressful event or memory.
So the mechanics of it work like this. I’d sit in front of the client and I ask them to close their eyes and go back to the negative memory. Remembering what they saw, what they heard, and what they felt. I’d give them about 30 to 40 seconds and on a scale of 0 to 10, 10 being very distressed and 0 being completely relaxed, I would ask them how high they go.
Most people who have a distressful memory will go higher than a 6 or 7 within 30 seconds. I then ask them to open up their eyes, clear their minds, and then I proceed with the Havening. I begin gently stroking their arms from the top of the shoulder down to their elbow and then start distracting them. I’d give them a pleasant visualization like walking along a beach, or through a park where they imagine walking 20 steps.
And as they imagine that with their eyes closed I continue using the Havening Touch, which is what we call it as in I gently stroke their arms, their hands, their face, producing the delta waves in the brain. I ask them to do other distractions as well by getting them to count for example.
We ask them to open up their eyes and move them from right to left because that creates more delta waves in the brain. And then close their eyes again. I keep stroking their arms and then I would check on a scale of 10 to 0, how far down the scale they’ve dropped. So we can check very quickly, “Daniel, what number are you at now? Yes, like maybe five, four, three…” and the client will just tell you automatically what number they’re at.
Generally in under ten minutes with most clients, even in five minutes in a lot of cases, most clients will calmly drop down to a 0 and it’s completely gone. Then I’ll stop when I get to zero and I’ll test it. I’ll test what we’ve done to make sure that it’s completely gone. That there’s not anything else there behind it and assure the client that the trauma has gone as well. By this time anyway the clients feel completely relaxed and calm. A lot of them even feel a bit sleepy because of the delta waves.
Then I ask the client to close their eyes, and go back to their distressful memory or the event. I’d give them about 30 to 40 seconds to go back in and tell me what the difference is. I may even ask them, and I often do this, to try and bring back the stress feeling or emotion from the event.
And practically every single time they won’t be able to get the uncomfortable emotions back. It’ll be completely gone. Even if you really did your best to bring it back you won’t be able to.
We often find as well the sub modalities of the memory change. You often hear that word in NLP: sub modalities. The picture changes, the sounds change. We often find that the memory seems more distant and further away, like a black-and-white image. The sounds of the memory would seem more faint, that they’re switched off and it’s like they can’t access the memory anymore.
Absolutely fascinating. With all the research behind it is it being encouraged to be taught to teachers in schools?
I know over in the UK in England there has been several teachers have gone through the training and I believe in a couple of schools they’ve introduced the Havening into the classroom to help relax the students.
So I know one of the teachers she does some self-Havening at the beginning of the class with the students. I think this is a primary school and she gets them to self-Haven and they find it quite fun. As they stroke their arms they’re producing delta waves relaxing the whole classroom and getting them ready for the class.
It’s can also be used for exam anxiety as well. Because there’s a lot of pressure with exams these days in school. So they’re using Havening that way. I’ve had about four or five clients in the last few months that have come to me because of exam pressure. They’re feeling stressed and anxiety around the exams, or they’re walking into exams and… a girl recently had a major panic attack in the exam so she came in and we cleared that. It works great for most types of performance anxiety issues such as public speaking, exam anxiety and social anxiety.
It kind of goes against the current biological principles of healing though doesn’t it? Let’s face it, it’s going to be hard for some people to get their head around the fact that touch on certain points on the body and the experience of the trauma is actually undoing all of that.
When I’d first seen Havening going back about three ago when I heard Paul McKenna in an interview say that he’s discovered this new groundbreaking therapy that is going to change the face of therapy across the world. I wasn’t really skeptical myself. I was more curious as I know if McKenna was saying it, as I have a lot of respect for what McKenna does as a therapist..I thought to myself, “You know, this must be something special if Paul’s raving about it so much.”
Once you understand the neurobiology of touch. What’s happening in the brain and in the body What’s actually happening in the brain, the limbic system and how they are all connected. What’s happening in the amygdala. Once you understand that it makes perfect sense to why Havening is such a breakthrough approach.
It is interesting about the neurobiology around touch isn’t it? Because you’ve got this in different cultures.The laying on of hands and things like that, and in different religions where the touch and that particular side of the healing is incredibly important and we’ve we have forgotten that in our Western medical model. We’ve more or less taken touch out of it; it’s almost seen as something you do not do, unless you’re a massage therapist. It’s almost like you have to gain a permission to even consider any level of touch. It’s totally on its head in some respects, but touch is so important.
That’s why I really like the Havening model is because of all the research behind it from that neuroscientific perspective about touch. And we can now get up now in front of a group of academics, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, neuroscientists and actually explain from a neurobiological perspective what is actually happening in the brain and the body when we use touch. So we can actually explain why it works and why it’s so effective. I think that’s a significant asset for Havening that we can clearly and concisely explain why it works.
We talked about teachers learning it. Who can come and learn it with you?
Generally it’s health professionals. People like psychotherapists, hypnotherapists, counselors. Anyone who’s working in the mental health field, especially if their working with anxiety-related issues. Sometimes coaches come along as well and train and use it with their own clients. So anyone who’s working in the health professional field are the people who come to do the training. But also anyone can attend the two day training to learn it for themselves.
How long does it actually take to learn?
First of all, there’s a two-day training where you learn the neuroscience behind Havening. It’s a practical training in the sense. For example, I would be doing live demonstrations of the techniques and explaining in detail about the neuroscience behind it.
Then the participants would break up in groups of three and all experience a Havening. There would be facilitators Havening Practitioners there as well with each group. So that’d be the process over the two days.
The training comes with a DVD set of a training with Dr. Ruden in New York which really goes deep into the neuroscience again. And there is also the Havening manual which once again gives you the neuroscience, how to apply all the different techniques. Because there’s more than one technique by the way, there’s a there’s at least half a dozen different Havening Techniques. That explains how to use all the different techniques on many different issues.
Once the people have done the two day training, before they get certified they have to go off and do 30 case studies, an online science exam, and also film two videos where they do two Havenings. The bar to become certified is set high. There’s a bit of work that has to be done, but at least by the end when you do get certified we can say that people are at a very high standard. Those who are now Certified Havening Techniques Practitioners have completed all this before they get full certification.
That’s really thorough. How do people come and train with you and how do people find out more about Havening?
People can go to https://stravershypnosis.com/certified-havening-training/ for information about upcoming trainings and book there.
Superb. Thank you very much Stephen. I really appreciate you joining me on Food For Thought on Natural Health Radio.
That’s great, thanks very much Debbie! Pleasure talking to you.