Therapy for Anxiety with Havening Techniques

This is part two of the transcript about therapy for anxiety

interview with Carollne Foran for her ‘Owning It: The Anxiety Podcast’

There is link at the end of this page if you would like to listen to the full interview.

Havening is your go to Therapy for Anxiety


CF:               Okay, so Havening is your go-to therapy for pretty much everyone who

walks through your door?


ST:                 With anxiety based issues yes. But we can also integrate NLP

techniques and hypnotherapy in with the Havening, so I can get people to

imagine a different future, I can layer in many positive ideas and

suggestions as well.


What is NLP?


CF:                 Okay, what’s NLP?


ST:                 NLP is neuro-linguistic programming, neuro for neurology, L for

linguistic and programming, like programming your mind.

So that idea again your brain’s a bit like a computer and you’re

reprogramming it through how you think, what you visualise, what you

say to yourself, and I can change how you feel.


CF:                 Okay and what would a NLP session be like?


ST:                 There’s many. NLP is a big area and it’s used in business and sales,

for language patterns, how they influence people, it’s used a lot in


It was developed by Doctor Richard Bandler and John Grinder and

they studied therapists back in the 50s and 60s, people like Doctor

Milton Erickson who’s a very famous psychiatrist and hypnotherapist.

People like Virginia Satir who’s a family therapist and a few others.


So for example let’s look if someone comes in with a bad memory, or

they’re visualising something in the future and they’re worried about it,

and it’s creating that anticipatory stress.

So we would work out  how are you picturing that, are you inside

that picture, what are you imagining, what are you saying to yourself,

and there’s something called associations.

So you’re going back in the memories or into the future and you’re

really imagining it’s happening to you, and we know that the nervous

system doesn’t really tell the difference very well between what’s real

and what we’ve overly imagined.


CF:                 Oh yeah, I can attest to that.


ST:                 And sometimes we call that worrying.

So with NLP there’s a technique called disassociation where we’ll ask

the person to float outside of the image, leave their body in it, make the

image smaller like a black and white photo and push the image further

away. And that helps to reduce and even delink the emotion from that

memory, and we can teach them how to do that with various negative

thoughts, memories of things they’re imagining in the future that’s

worrying them.


CF:                 Okay so that’s NLP.


ST:                 That’s just one snippet of an NLP technique you could use, and you

could even use those types of techniques in hypnotherapy.


Hypnotherapy for Anxiety

CF:                 Okay, hypnotherapy as its own thing describe that for me, and what we

can expect with that?


ST:                 Well you’ve got the state of hypnosis first of all, so hypnosis is an eye

closed process, it very much feels like meditation, and you’ve then got

the therapy end of it, so you’ve got hypno and therapy i.e hypnotherapy

So in a hypnosis for anxiety session for example, a therapy method

would often be used whilst the person is in the trance.

So they might ask the person to go back to their past and go

back to a memory and do that disassociation technique I mentioned, or

they might ask the person in the hypnosis to go into the future and

imagine a scene.

Maybe if they’re public speaking to see themselves doing the scene in

a calm way, in a confident way, so we’re doing this positive mental

rehearsal whilst they’re in the hypnosis.


CF:                 And what’s happening when you’re in a hypnosis state in a therapy session?


ST:                 Well it generally feels very relaxing, nice and calm, you’re actually

aware of what’s happening, lots of people think it’s got to do with sleep

from watching stage hypnotists saying ‘sleep’, so it’s like a meditation,

you’re generally quite aware of what’s happening round you. Your mind

and body goes into a calm relaxing state and you’re often much more

open to suggestion at that point as well, and your mind can focus more,

your imagination on various things.


CF:                 I would be of the opinion of having tried so many different types of therapy that

anything that can get you into that deep deep state of relaxation is

good, because it’s giving you a break from having this high cortisol

stress response all the time.

Is it just like applying different therapies but it’s the same principle of

just getting deeply relaxed, and then when you’re deeply relaxed trying

to unblock or replace some sort of bad messaging in your mind?

What happens in your brain when Havening is applied?


ST:                 Yes different types of therapy have different theories behind what works

for them.

Like in Havening for example you talk there of cortisol, and you’re

absolutely right, when someone’s having a traumatic experience or

when they’re feeling stressed generally their cortisol and adrenaline

levels are quite high.

The Havening touch, when it produces delta waves in the brain it’s also

producing serotonin GABA and oxytocin which are the feel goods and

relaxation chemicals.

So when you’re actually Havening someone your cortisol and your

adrenalin levels are going down and the oxytocin, GABA [Gamma

Aminobutyric Acid] and serotonin are going up. So you’re actually

creating that neuro chemical change in the brain and the body and

that’s why you start feeling calmer.


CF:                 And outside of a therapy session if it’s a meditative type of thing is it

something that you can do yourself?


ST:                 Yes we teach our clients how to use self-Havening, self-Havening can

be applied. There’s even some videos on You Tube, if you type in my

name into You Tube there’s a free Self-Havening demonstration there.



CF:                 Okay so that’s where you’re getting yourself into a relaxed state, you’re

actually using touch with yourself to try and produce those nice



ST:                 Yes you’re using sensory touch. You’re gently stroking your arms, your

shoulder down to the elbow, gently on the palms of your hands and

also gently around your face, and that’s instantly starting the delta

waves in the brain and reducing your cortisol and adrenaline levels.


CF:                 Okay I’m going to get tough on you now and say what would your

response be to someone who said ‘this was all bulls**t’ or ‘it sounds

like bulls**t’. I’m not saying it, I just know there will be sceptics out

there and I always have to be careful.


ST:                 Well look first of all I’d always look at the person who’s saying it, are

they qualified, what’s their background, what’s their experience, if it’s

something that they’re sceptical of I understand and they were

dismissive, because generally some people have had bad experiences.

They’ve gone to therapists or even doctors and they’re just really

sceptical, nothing’s working for them, and the proof is really in the

pudding. So if I was working with someone and they had panic attacks

or a phobia or a bad memory, I would say well look give me 15 minutes

of your time and let me prove it to you.

Havening Demonstration on a Flying Phobia

CF:                 Have you had people who suffered with panic attacks and did

Havening and stopped having panic attacks?


ST:                 Yes, most of my clients stop having panic attacks yes, that’s the aim.

Yes that’s the aim.


CF:       I can’t actually remember what the type of therapy was or who the

person was, but I was particularly like Jesus Christ just give me

anything. But I went in believing I’m going to walk out of here a

completely different person, I’m going to walk in here with anxiety and

I’m going to leave it when I walk out.

I believed it so much, I had a lovely relaxing experience, there were

those things plugged onto my temples and it was just again probably

just getting into a relaxed state and making you feel really safe. So I

walked out of there feeling really calm and I was like oh my god it’s

gone, it’s gone.

I went with my parents’ home and they also didn’t really understand

anxiety, and when I said ‘oh it’s gone now’ they were like ‘oh okay’.

And I went to bed that night and my mum said ‘okay we’ll see you

tomorrow’ and I said ‘yeah great’, and then I lay down in bed and I was

like ‘yeah it’s gone’ and then I was like ‘is it gone?’

And I started feeling this slow little burning sensation that just started to

fill up my body where I was like ‘oh my god no it’s not gone’, and I was

ten times worse the next day and for a while after, because I thought

that I was incurable.

I was watching all these You Tube videos; you know where you had to

pay money to unlock the secret for how you would never feel anxious

again. I even felt frustrated with The Power of Now book, because we

can’t just all sit there and have a moment of enlightenment and then

never feel it again, it’s hormonal, it’s not that simple, you can’t just

switch it off.

So since I went to different types of therapy I now would say to anyone

whatever works for you, whatever makes you feel good, but don’t go

into something expecting you’re never going to feel anxiety again

because that’s the worst thing you can do.


ST:                 Yes I agree. We all need a certain amount of stress or anxiety in our

lives, especially if we’re in danger. If you’re walking along a side of a

cliff it’s probably wise to feel a bit of fear or anxiety so you’re careful, if

you’re walking down the street at night by yourself and you hear

footsteps coming up behind you and someone shouting it’s probably

good to feel a bit of fear and anxiety. The purpose of our emotions is to

help us to survive and to keep us safe.


CF:                 Yeah, but they’re firing off in scenarios where we actually are safe and

that’s the problem for people.


ST:                 Well in modern life there’s these invisible stressor’s as well, we’ve got

these deadlines at work we have to achieve, we’ve got our goals in

business, people are trying to run businesses, bring up kids, pay the

mortgage, get to their gym class, some people are working 40, 50, 60

hours a week and all this can catch up with you.

And that’s this idea that prolonged stress can be a bad thing, even if it’s

doing something that you enjoy doing. I remember at one point I was

working six days a week seeing a lot of clients and I started getting

pain in my neck, in my head, in my back, I wasn’t sleeping great, I was

feeling irritable, I was feeling stressed, and I love what I do, but I was

doing too much for too long, I was doing that for months.


CF:                 You were wearing down your prefrontal cortex?


ST:                 I was wearing down a lot of things. I was just working and sleeping six

days a week, Sunday was just like [Sighs] oh just lie back, watch

television, I didn’t even want to talk to anyone for hours, then back in

again Monday morning another six days of back to front with clients.

Just working nonstop and just being aware of these things that can

affect us all.


CF:                 Yeah, it sounds from what you’re describing that hypno therapy or

Havening is such a worthy thing to try if there’s an isolated trigger. But

for me, while I could definitely go back to my childhood and find

moments that were scary that probably did lodge in my mind when I

started to suffer really bad with anxiety, I really believed that it was a

case of like you say I was stressed out for so long and I wasn’t

addressing it.

I was wearing myself down and eventually I just slipped over into that

mode of suddenly I was reactive to everything and I was sensitive and I

felt exposed and vulnerable. So it’s a different kind of anxiety and there

was no traumatic thing that I always felt like this is ridiculous that I have

this anxiety because nothing bad happened, whereas I was looking for

something like if someone had a death in the family that would maybe

justify the anxiety whereas I couldn’t justify it.


ST:                 But it can be many things accumulating. What you’re describing there,

feeling hypersensitive or hypervigilant, maybe overly empathetic, easily

stressed or irritable, not sleeping great; they’re all symptoms or the

consequences of a vulnerable neuro chemical landscape.

That means there’s too much cortisol going on, there’s too much

adrenaline, there’s too many stressors from the past or in the present. And ways to

deal with that–well first of all we can do the self-Havening, we can do

that regularly everyday just to regulate, to keep that thermostat low of



CF:                 Okay so you’re doing what you can to bring your cortisol down.


ST:                 Yeah, you’re not letting it build up every day, you’re aiming to bring it

down through something like self-Havening, it could even be doing

something like meditation every day


CF:                 So would it be similar to meditation in terms of the effects on your

hormones and all those things in your brain?


ST:                 All the different types of therapy I’ve studied and trained in over the years when it

comes to stress and anxiety I find Havening to be the most effective, in

a sense it gives me the most instant feeling of calmness and relaxation.

I don’t need any special equipment, I can do it anywhere once I have

my hands I can self-apply it on myself.

And once you start gently stroking it’s instantly starting to create those

delta waves, reduce your heart rate, your blood pressure and calm you



CF:                 Could you say the same about a massage?


ST:                 Yes well the neurobiology of touch and on what Havening was

developed on it actually came from looking at massage and Swedish

massage, and how touch changes what’s happening in the brain and

the body. So going for a massage maybe every week, well every day

would be great wouldn’t it [Chuckles].

So it’s about introducing things into your life that create that emotional

equilibrium and stop the allostatic load which is a build-up of stress

getting too high, and it’s being aware and knowing the signs and the

signals when you’re starting to feel. Like sometimes I’ll get maybe a

little pain in my head or my neck or my back, and every time it’s

because I’m trying to do too much or I’m doing too much.


CF:                 Can Havening be a preventative thing or therapy that you do to keep yourself well

or is it something that you do retrospectively to try and address a

problem that’s gotten out of hand?


ST:                 It’s both. We’re doing a lot of work in Havening over the last few years

about resiliency and using Havening for emotional resiliency, so that’s

why we’re teaching our clients to do it.

But unfortunately human nature, sometimes when we get rid of the

problem we don’t necessarily keep doing the things that were working

for us. So how many people don’t necessarily keep doing self-Havening after

a session or keep doing their meditation or–


CF:                 Well I mean that’s true, because we turn to meditation when we’re in a

desperate position and we think I’ll do this now and it obviously doesn’t

work and you feel terrible and then you give up. I’m very guilty of not

doing the things that work for me when I feel good, because when I feel

good I don’t want to know about it, I just want to live. And then I end up

back in a situation where I’m like okay I wasn’t appreciating how

important it is to do these things every day that just keep that

equilibrium there.


ST:                 Yes and it’s partly human nature, we tend to move away from pain

towards pleasure, and pain’s a big motivator for us. So when we’re in

pain we’ll take action, if someone’s teeth aren’t great it’s not until they

get a toothache and they’re in pain that they go to the dentist.


CF:                 So what would you say to someone now who’s listening who’s having

really bad anxiety who’s thinking look I’m willing to try anything. But

also knowing my need to protect that person from feeling vulnerable

and where I was, where they would just pay anything and go anywhere

for any kind of therapy. Obviously there’s a lot of research and merit

to what you’re talking about, but there’s things out there that don’t have

that merit.


ST:                 Well I think  there is no therapy that works for everyone 100% of the time.

Doctor Rodger Callahan, he’s a psychologist who created TFT

[Thought Field Therapy], and he said,

“if you have 100% success rate you’re not seeing enough clients”

So to claim that one treatment or one therapy works for everyone all

the time is unrealistic and it can create false expectations. My

recommendation for people would be obviously I’d say look at

Havening, but I’d also say do a bit of research, and if you’re going to

see a therapist pick up the phone and have a chat with them.

Look at their website as well, look at their credentials, look at

testimonials, success stories, that they’ve got a track record of success

working with those specific issues that you want to work on, be it

anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, and have a chat with them.

Because it’s also about the connection that you have with the person

sometimes, if there’s that rapport when you’re going in to see someone

and that they can actually understand your problem.


CF:                 Yeah. Talk to me a little bit about phobias, I don’t know that I have any

specific phobias but I get a lot of people messaging me who do. And is

that something that’s easier to handle? Easier for you to address

because it’s isolated and it’s tangible and you can see it right there,

and it maybe does relate to a specific time that one bad thing

happened, like with Charlene maybe she’s afraid of eating nuts in case

she chokes or something.


ST:                 Yeah it’s another good question. In many cases phobias can be

cleared in one therapy session, but it’s also if a phobia happens very young

and it’s unresolved it can start affecting other areas in your life because

trauma begets trauma.

So because you’ve a vulnerable neurochemical landscape something

else might affect you, you’re more prone for another situation affecting

you, then another affecting you, then another affecting you. So there

can be a phobia but there can also then be panic attacks or social

anxiety or some sleep problems, because the cortisol is too high,

because there’s a lot of unresolved stuff going on. So if it’s just very

isolated like a phobia–like I’ve worked with many people with phobias

and they come in and it’s literally one or two sessions, it’s gone.

Then other people come in and there’s a phobia but there’s also a

dozen other things going on, and you start digging a bit further with

them and they’re not sleeping great, they’re feeling some unresolved

anger or grief, they’re not functioning to their full potential, there’s other

stuff going on. So if it is just a phobia they have it can be cleared within

one or two sessions and you’re looking for that EMLI again.


CF:                 Okay what’s that again?


ST:                 Events, Meaning, Landscape and Inescapability.


CF:                 And do you think EMLI is something that people can take from this

podcast and try and think about themselves with their own if they had a

bad memory?


ST:                 Well when clients first come in to see me I often look for EMLI,

because I just don’t want to treat the symptoms. And that’s a big

mistake that I find that’s happening with a lot of people who come in to

me, they’ve done a lot of therapy, they’re sitting with therapists and

they’re looking at symptoms, and the therapist is not really pinpointing

and identifying what’s causing and getting to the root of it.


CF:                 Is there always a cause and a root?


ST:                 The majority of the time yes. The vast majority of the time there’s

always at least one memory, it’s rare that there isn’t, mostly every

single time, the challenge sometimes is finding it.


CF:                 Do you think a lot of it goes back to childhood?


ST:                 Well we know when you look at Adverse Childhood Effects that’s ACEs

They’re called that’s in academic literature on trauma and anxiety therapy.

And there is a correlation that the more adverse childhood effects a

child experiences in early life there’s a higher probability that they’ll

have an anxiety based issue.

We know for example that if you grow up with someone that has a

drinking problem, an alcoholic when you were a child, there’s a higher

probability that you’re going to have some sort of anxiety based issue,

there’s correlations there through research on that.


CF:                 Okay. So when somebody comes in to you they can expect that they’re

going to go back in time and probably try to explore and uncover things

that maybe they don’t think are relevant but actually to you they are

very obviously.


ST:                 Yes, and it’s very easy to pin point if it’s relevant or not, because if they

have a memory and they’ve buried it away or they don’t look at and

they think oh I’m fine but I don’t need to look at that, all I have to say to

them is ‘close your eyes, go back to that memory and vividly remember

it, see what you saw, remember what you heard, and really go to the

worst part of that memory’.

If there’s an encoding in the amygdala there they’re going to start

feeling uncomfortable within seconds, emotions will start to come up.

And we’ll scale it on a scale of zero to ten where are you on that scale.

And sometimes it mightn’t even be that high, it could be like a three or

a four, and I might say ‘well what’s that feeling?’ and they go ‘I feel


And then when I start Havening them because the delta waves–which causes associative

processing and  frees up the brain and things start

to unlock quicker associations. So when we start Havening them it’s

like going down a rabbit hole with different memories and emotions that

are suppressed and even repressed that come up into their conscious


So they can start off feeling angry about one thing and then suddenly

they go back to something completely different or just really suppressed

or shutdown or even forgotten about.


CF:                 Okay, and would you describe the Havening and the different types of

therapy as complimentary to everything else you do in your life to try

and help on your anxiety?


ST:                 Yes it’s this idea of a holistic approach. So if you do some Havening

sessions for example it would be good to keep up things, some self-

Havening as part of your resiliency or self-care.


CF:                 But if you do your Havening and then you’re like I’m smashing three

double espressos in the morning and you’re still wondering why you’re

feeling anxious, like you kind of have to look at the whole picture don’t



ST:                 Yes you’ve got to look at yourself, everyone is an individual and your

subjective experience, and yes for some people they can drink one

espresso and they’re getting heart palpitations, some people can drink

coffee before they go to bed and they’re fine. So it’s about being self-

aware and what works for you because different things do work for

different people and people respond and react differently to things as


Like some people external stressors light them up, sometimes top

CEO’s and high performers they enjoy challenges, while another

person external stressors and challenges they don’t want them, it

literally does stress them. It’s also about looking at your life, what are

you doing with your life, are you in a job or a career or living your life

doing what you love and loving what you do, and that’s a big part of it,

are you fulfilling your potential.

Sometimes you can be in a situation in your life where you’re not happy

doing what you’re doing and that’s the problem. So sometimes people

come in and they’re feeling anxious about something and they’re trying

to get rid of the anxiety, but the problem could be well you’re in a job

that you absolutely hate maybe then we need to  look at that.


CF:                 Okay, so you have to be realistic.


ST:                 Or you’re in a relationship that’s not working. So it’s about being

practical and it’s about being able to identify what are the main causes

and triggers of the stress and looking at the bigger picture.


CF:                 Okay, where can people find you?


ST:                 If they go to my website Hypnotherapy Dublin website that’s my main website, there’s a blog there

as well where I giveaway lots of free information and advice.

So just type in Stephen Travers into Google,

there’s lots of information there and pages about me or they can call

my office as well.


CF:                 So we could only lightly touch on the theories and the neuroscience of

what backs up Havening and everything, but if someone is still thinking

oh I don’t know and they want to read more about the research and

any sort of proper measurable scientific studies where can they go for



ST:                 You can go to Kings College study on Google, Kings College study

Havening, they can also go to the official website and

there’s white papers there, and go to the research section and there’s

lots of white papers around the research and neuroscience.

And even typing Havening into You Tube there’s various videos which

talks about Havening as well, there’s one by Tam Johnston, she gives

you a lot of the science behind it as well, but Kings College study if you

really want to look at the study that would be the one to look at.


CF:                 Okay, Stephen Travers thank you so much for joining me on Owning It:

The Anxiety Podcast.


ST:                 Thank you Caroline.

Here is the link to listen to the full podcast interview about what Havening is and how it can help with your anxiety.