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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
stravershypnosis.com 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 Havening.org 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.