Having doubts on Havening

brain tIs 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.brain 9a

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.

11 thoughts on “Having doubts on Havening

  1. Julian Whitfield says:

    Agreed. Whether it works or not, it is dishonest to dress up non-scientific therapies as if they are an evidence-based treatment supported by mainstream medicine. Buyer beware!

  2. Gene T says:

    It is not as bad as you make out. This is a passive therapy which can be bolted on to existing therapies. Thus, at worse, it could be regarded as complementary to complementary therapies! From my experience a trained practitioner can combine the different Havening Techniques to give the best results.
    So let us not go overboard about qualifications. The requirements for becoming a certified practitioner are that some previous training in hypnotherapy, NLP, psychology or counselling has been undertaken. That can’t be bad, can it?

  3. penny says:

    I have seen positive results from havening and believe that it could be a very useful tool in the hands of ethical, trained, qualified therapists.
    however, i am very concerned by the rapid growth of so called ‘certified practitioners’ who have done a minimum amount of training. the hype and the amounts of money being charged are unjustified and in my opinion unethical in view of the total absence of any clinical trials or indeed any willingness to look at the ‘shadow’ side and put in place some self regulating safety practices to develop a professional approach.

    depotentiation can be a wonderful tool, but like the article advises search out a qualified therapist.

  4. Dianne says:

    An excellent article and also some very interesting replies. I was shocked at the high cost of training and could not see how it could be stretched out over 2 days, particularly when it is aimed at therapists such as myself, a hypnotherapist with an HPD qualification and NLP training with Paul McKenna and Richard Bandler etc.

    If you have a reasonable understanding about the human mind and are constantly open to learning, it seems to me that a course should be pretty brief if it is just teaching the technique. At £540 for a 2 day course, then an extra sum of around £300, plus ongoing accreditation costs annually, it would appear to be a licence to print money.

    I have now looked at many websites, read articles and watched countless youtubes on these techniques and feel that including elements of them with my usual type of hypnotherapy/NLP (which is a holistic approach including nutrition, exercise and coaching) is the best way forward for me.

  5. Ronald Ruden says:

    The science behind Havening is solid and the approach now in over thirty countries has proven to be effective again and again.The cost of the two day training is in line with other trainings and those who have learned and used it can testify to its powerful healing properties.

    • Paddy Bergin says:

      I used havening to deal with a health issue and got immediate symptom relief. However after 2 weeks the symptoms returned and no amount of havening now has any effect.

    • I am very interested in Havening but before investing time and money I’m looking for studies that support the efficacy of the treatment if you are able to refer me?

  6. Beverly Byrum says:

    It’s clear that the authors of this article have a bias and an agenda because many statements in the article are blatantly false. You can find plenty of science backing up the technique if you choose to look for it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ronald or Beverly: Will you share some of the science backing it up? I have been looking, and have not found anything convincing yet–i.e., experimental design with a control group. Thank you.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I have no idea as I have no personal experience with it and have found no articles of solid research. HOWEVER,
    everything they are saying about it was also said about meditation, emdr, tft, eft, crainiosacral, acupressure, cbt, which is just a fancy way of saying mindfulness. and all of these have no been proven to be beneficial.
    -at very least it seems to calm the nervous system and can move you out of flight or fight faster than a difficult meditation practice.
    I remain open….lets do the research w an open mind.

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