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Image by Suzanne D. Williams



Havening is a relatively new set of psycho sensory alternative therapy techniques, created by American neuroscientist Dr Ronald Ruden, and his brother Dr. Steven Ruden after 15 years researching how acupressure / EFT worked.

The techniques uses three easy movements; self soothing arm strokes from shoulders to elbows, hand washing or face washing. These movements create delta waves in the brain associated with a slow wave sleep pattern, that help boost the production of oxytocin, gaba and serotonin, which makes it a calming, soothing and relaxing experience for you.

Image by Chris Lawton

"Working with Debbie was such a great experience, she’s a warm and welcoming person who I felt extremely secure working with and talking too. She has given me some extremely helpful coping techniques and gave me ways where I can tap and ground myself while I’m in public. I have loved working with Debbie and it’s something that has helped me extreme amounts and I am so grateful."

This release of serotonin may improve general well-being leading to improved performance, and is said to have a soothing effect that helps relieve mental health symptoms including:


  • anxiety, fear, panic and phobias

  • post-traumatic stress after frightening accidents and assaults

  • memories around distressing / embarrassing relationships and experiences

  • grief and sadness

  • short-term or chronic pain

While making these movements, the brain is distracted by going to a safe place: counting 20 steps while walking on a beach / in a garden / along a mountain trail, then humming a simple song (Happy Birthday or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) and doing some lateral eye movements. This technique is called Event Havening and is used to alter the feeling and response to a particular happening or incident to remove the distressing component producing a sense of detachment (a safe place or a haven – hence the name).

Image by Julia Weihe

Transpirational Havening uses the same three hand movements to diffuse chronic emotional states with no single causal event, without the need for any brain distractions.


Iffirmational Havening is used to help the Client accept that change is possible.


Affirmational Havening and Hopeful Havening increases psychological well being and resilience.


Outcome Havening is used to provide an alternative outcome of a recalled event.


Role Havening allows an individual involved with the trauma to speak.


And while the techniques involve closing your eyes in parts, you remain fully conscious and awake, so there is no hypnosis involved. There is also no need to go into the details of the story around the issue you wish to work on with your therapist, as your brain already knows the details. So long as you can get hold of an image, a noise, or even a smell related to an event to bring about the feeling you wish you didn’t have, the Practitioner can successfully guide you through the technique.


Within a short time, it can feel as if you have just meditated for the whole day, leaving you with a sense of wellbeing and safety; so the techniques are great for reducing anxiety and distress or negative memories. The creators believe this happens because havening removes the trauma encoded in the amygdala, and disrupts the pathways in your brain that activate distressing memories. By switching off the fight / flight / freeze / flop stress response using a combination of touch, sound and mental distancing in this way, it makes it more difficult for you to even bring up those memories at all.


However, although the technique has been around since 2011, it takes time for research data to provide indisputable evidence of effectiveness. A study in 2015 showed promising results in relation to depression, anxiety and impaired functioning affecting workplace absenteeism, which appeared to reduce ‘occupation impairment’.


And while you can easily learn how to Self Haven to overcome minor irritations by yourself, it is advised that you seek the help of a certified Havening Practitioner, or a professional mental health care provider, before working on any more serious issues.

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