Is Havening all hype & no science? > A client has contacted us for advice on the Havening Technique. Developed in New York, this is a new psycho-sensory treatment based on how physical touch effects changes in brain chemistry to enable rapid emotional shifts.
It is claimed the improvements are permanent and irreversible because post-Havening the synaptic pathways that carried the trauma are no longer present. If you believe the hype, this treatment is a ‘radical safe technique for removing negative emotions that works in a matter of minutes‘. Sales literature for the very expensive training courses go on to say they are a ‘rare chance to learn a revolutionary technique which could change the face of therapy’.
Unfortunately, if you strip away the psycho-babble there is little scientific evidence to support these claims. In fact, there is none!
There IS medical research on how trauma is processed and stored permanently in the amygdala medulla regions of the brain. This shows that trauma is encoded in a different way to other negative experience, which is attributed to the levels of stress hormones the brain releases. These drop when the threat goes away and we recover, but not so with trauma where these hormones continuing to rise until they reach a critical frequency. When this happens it triggers a chain-reaction through the brain, resulting in the traumatic experience being chemical embedded in the brain. Havening sets out to break this link, which is why the therapy is also called Amygdala Depotentiation (ADT).
The problem is that, unless you pay out a stress inducing amount of money, you cannot find out how to implement this therapy, with practitioners covering their tracks by saying they never empower the clients by explaining in advance! Fortunately there are ways around the info blackout, including a web site that provides a DIY guide with photos plus an online video.
To try and see through the cloak of secrecy, it helps to research similar therapy concepts such as thought field therapy, which incorporates aspects of traditional Chinese medicine, and trauma therapy Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR).
These alternatives are based on evidence that memories are amenable to change just after they have been recalled. There is also research that shows that being touched affects emotional processing. Havening attempts to bring together these two concepts to form a single treatment, but this amalgamation cannot justify claims of a ‘breakthrough therapy’. And where is the proof that it works, or an explanation of how the therapy is administered and governed? Without any controlled trials the claims being made are too good to be true.
So be warned. However much the promoters try to beguile vulnerable people with talk of psychosensory therapy and big words like ‘neuroscience’, ‘neurobiology’ and ‘neurotransmitters’, this remains an untested therapy not recognised by NICE – the UK government’s independent heath advisory body. If you seek a complementary therapy, select one recognised by the NHS and then consult the Government approved list to find one in your area.