What is Havening

... and how does it work?

Introduction to Havening

Havening is a new approach to supporting people in unchaining their pain from a past trauma or unhelpful experience, as well as reducing day to day stress and anxiety. It can also be used for visualisation to empower your mind to achieve things that you previously felt unattainable

Developed by Dr Ron Ruden and Dr Steven Ruden in the USA, Havening uses the power of human touch to generate calming delta-waves in your mind. These calming delta-waves are typically generated during deep, restorative sleep

These calming delta waves are able to down-regulate any emotional charge or unhelpful responses due to any stress response, trauma or anxiety through an electro-chemical process

When you are stressed, anxious or fearful your mind is overactive. This is triggered by a stress response in the deep part of your brain called the amygdala, which can put you into flight/flight/freeze or defensive rage. When activated your body sends high frequency gamma waves to your amygdala, that activates stress chemicals, causing AMPA receptors to be plugged onto the surface of your brain cells

These AMPA receptors are really useful and are essential for our survival as they act as a 'short-circuit' activating our chosen response to that threat quickly

This is really helpful when we have to escape from something that we perceive as a threat to life, but the encoding in our mind from that experience can be unhelpful to us if triggered doing day to day activities that are not threatening

Our requirement to use human touch to down-regulate our stress response is something we have genetically inbuilt from birth. Human touch is essential for our survival. Havening simply accesses our inherent super power and harnesses it to best effect

Havening is a psychosensory technique and works in a similar way to Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), using touch rather than eye-movement to generate the delta waves and remove any AMPA receptors present on the surface of your brain cells that have been activated from a traumatic experience

Using the power of human touch to generate low frequency delta waves, calming chemicals, including oxytocin and GABA travel to your brain cells. These calming chemicals have the effect of 'ungluing/unplugging' these AMPA receptors from the surface of your brain cell and sending them back inside

By momentarily activating your trauma, you activate these AMPA receptors, and then apply human touch to unglue the AMPA receptors and send them back into your brain cells

The effect is that any outflow the AMPA receptors triggered is removed, thus allowing you to decouple any unhelpful emotions, cognitive thoughts or images, autonomic responses (heart racing, sweating), and somatosensory responses (tingling) from your trauma, down regulating your body and reducing your distress rating

 Because of the way that Havening works, it can be a much kinder approach to supporting people in addressing past traumas or unhelpful experiences at it creates a 'safe haven' in the person's mind through distraction techniques to support them in releasing their trauma

In addition, because you are activating the trauma in your mind, you don't actually have to talk about it to achieve relief. This is really helpful for those that have traumatic encoding before they can speak, or they can't talk about it. Talk therapy can for some people have the effect of 'strengthening' the traumatic encoding as they have to relieve it, which Havening doesn't do. Havening can be done 'content free' (saying nothing) with a 'content headline' or in as much detail as the person feels comfortable disclosing

As the technique targets the particular trauma that you bring to the forefront of your mind, a reduction in your trauma rating can be achieved in as little as 15 minutes - hence it's sometimes called 'the 15 minute to freedom technique'

The four elements required for a trauma to be encoded in your mind:

A lot of people talk about there being two types of trauma - big Trauma and little trauma

The truth is, size doesn't matter when it comes to trauma. If you have the four elements necessary for a trauma to be encoded in your mind, it doesn't matter how you or others perceive it's importance, the encoding will be there in your mind regardless

Trauma doesn't care about your age, colour, size, shape, gender bias, ethnicity... Trauma is trauma, irrespective of how long ago it happened

The four elements required for a trauma to be encoded in your mind are:

  1. Event - an event will have taken place, whether you remember it or not, that is significant for your mind. This can be a singular event or in the instance of layered trauma, multiple events, constituting an 'experience.' Traumatic events can be encoded in your mind as soon as your brain comes 'online' in the womb
  2. Meaning - your mind assigns a particular meaning to that event, in essence it sees the event as a threat to your survival, in whatever form your mind interprets 'survival'
  3. Landscape - the landscape in your mind is vulnerable to the event being perceived as a threat. For example, you may have experienced similar events that you had encoded as a threat, or something else was happening in your life at the time which increased your vulnerability to having the trauma encoded in your mind
  4. Inescapability - you perceive the event as inescapable. It doesn't feel safe. You wanted to be able to 'escape' from it, but you could not

The Havening Approach

There are three main ways to generate calming delta waves in your mind. The technique is very simple - here is my daughter, Lilly Allan, demonstrating it aged 18 months old. Anyone who is sensitive to human touch can Haven a toy, stroke an animal, wear gloves or imagine themselves Havening - whatever feels comfortable for them

Hands: Wash the palms of your hands only, using movements to the left and right, backwards and forwards, or circular motions, whatever feels comfortable

Face: Complete the movements as if you are washing your face in a downward motion. The head can also be stroked, as well as the forehead - whatever feels comfortable

Arms: Stroke your arms from your shoulders to your elbows or fingertips, crossing your arms over as you start the movement from your shoulders


The Science behind Havening

The Science


Peer reviewed scientific papers on Havening

Havening was developed by brothers Dr Ron Ruden and Dr Steven Ruden in the USA. Below is a list of peer reviewed papers on Havening

  • Ruden, S. J. Ruden, R. A (2010). Treating the phobic and anxious dental patient. Introduction to Havening therapy. Dentistry Today, 177, 1-6. PMID: 20408291 
  • Gursimran T., Tom, D., Gould, M., McKenna, P., & Greenberg N. (2015). Impact of a single session of Havening. Health Science Journal, 9(5:1), 1-5
  • Ruden, R. A. (2018). Harnessing electroceuticals to treat disorders arising from traumatic stress: Theoretical considerations using a psychosensory model. Explore, 15(3), 222-229. 
  • Hodgson, K. L., Clayton D. A., Carmi M. A., Carmi L. H., Ruden R. A., Fraser, W. D. & Cameron, D. (2021). A Psychophysiological Examination of the Mutability of Type D Personality in a Therapeutic Trial. Journal of Psychophysiology, 35(2), 116-128
  • Fernstein D. (2022). Uses of Energy Psychology Following Catastrophic Events. Frontiers in Psychology, 13, 856209
  • Sumich, A., Heym, N., Sarkar, M., Burgess, T., French, J., Hatch, L., & Hunter, K. (2022). The power of touch: The effects of havening touch on subjective distress, mood, brain function, and psychological health. Psychology & Neuroscience, 15(4), 332-346.
  • Borchert, N., Eliasson, H., Hamne, G., Hodgson, J., Lyche, T., Mayer-Pelinkski, R., Praesto, F., Radu, G., Sandström, U., & Stapleton, P. (2023). Learning from Läklabbet: An integrative transdisciplinary eco therapeutic treatement approach designed to promote resource capacity in people recovering from chronic ill health. Open Science Framework: PsyArXiv Repository for the Psychological Sciences. Open Access Digital Archive. 1-9
  • Hodgson, K. L., Carmi, L. H., Ruden, R. A., Carmi, M. A., & Cameron, D. (2023). Augmenting resilience to trauma: A parallel-group controlled trial of a psychosensory intervention. Open Science Framework: PsyArXiv Repository for the Psychological Sciences. Open Access Digital Archive, 1-8.

Client Testimonials

No further flashbacks!

The coaching was very easy with a comfortable style

I found it very effective and so far I have not had any further flashbacks!

I loved the results. Such a simple technique with very effective results.

Arabella M

Program: 1-1 trauma recovery coaching

Very powerful

The coaching had an immediate, lasting result and was a good experience as well. I loved that I didn't have to talk about the traumatic event

Reshaping the memory towards the end was very powerful. Go right ahead! If you are afraid of thinking about the memory or thing, don't be. You only have to bring it to mind for a short moment, not talk about it or anything else, and the session begins

Each time after I revisited the memory, it didn't have the negative charge any more. Phew!

Kate B

Program: 1-1 trauma recovery coaching

Easy to follow

I loved how professional it was and easy to follow

The change I have following the session is calmness, feeling light headed and no more pressure!

Do it! Amazing

Glenda Saunders

Program: Group trauma recovery coaching

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