Havening Techniques for Stress, Explained by Paul McKenna

Havening Techniques for Stress, Explained by Paul McKenna

We all experience stress, but not everyone knows how to deal with it. Half of all doctor visits are stress-related, and if we could learn how to relax effectively and regularly, most of our problems would pass, or better still, not come about in the first place.

While some methods are scientifically effective, they take time and discipline. The good news is that there is a revolutionary technique that you can learn quickly and benefit from in minutes.

It’s called the Havening Technique.

This article is inspired by Paul McKenna, British hypnotist and best-selling author, which explains:

What Is the Havening Technique?
What Can Havening Help With?
How Does Havening Technique Work?
Where to Start

This process is explicit, simple, and easy to learn and can be used as a self-help tool.

What Is the Havening Technique?

Havening was created by doctor Ronald Ruden, which was hailed as a remarkable breakthrough. The name suggests that it puts you into a safe place – a haven.

What people don’t realize is that most of the stress that they have in their lives is absolutely unnecessary.

— Paul McKenna

Ronald discovered that when you repeatedly touch certain parts of the body, pairing it with specific eye movements and visualizations, it produces massive amounts of delta brainwaves in the brain. As a result, you feel calm, relaxed, and less stressed.

His work is now known as psychosensory therapy — alternative therapy for reducing anxiety and stress associated with traumatic memories.

daily stress

Paul McKenna, British hypnotist and behavioral scientist, teaches this technique to his clients to help them manage daily stress, become more resilient in life, and overcome emotional issues linked to traumatic experiences.

Paul explains that this technique uses touch patterns that can even enable a mother to comfort her baby, so they are hard-wired into every infant.

“Using these patterns, you can significantly reduce the feeling of unhappiness and stress and establish calm relaxation,” he adds.

Scientific studies have shown that this amazingly effective technique can reduce feelings of unhappiness, and sadness and relieve anxiety, trauma, and pain in just a few minutes.

What Can Havening Help With?

According to Havening creators, the Havening Techniques are “a healing modality designed to help individuals overcome problems that are the consequence of traumatic encoding.

The Havening Techniques have been shown to help with:

  • Phobias
  • Chronic pain
  • Distressing memories (broken relationships, shocking news, loss, embarrassment, etc.); natural disasters (hurricanes, floods, etc.), and man-made events (war, fire, assault, home intrusion, etc.)
  • Anger
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Grief
  • Cravings
  • PTSD
  • Panic attacks
  • Emotional eating

Even though you can’t control some things that may happen to you, you can control how you think and how you feel.

— Paul Mckenna

After successfully applying the Havening Techniques, in most cases, the results are permanent because they alter the biological structure of the brain. If you suffer from addictive and obsessive/compulsive behaviors or specific pain syndromes, you will need to reinforce your treatment with other methods. 

Although this healing modality is effective, no healing method or modality works for all issues. Also, some problems are inherently hard-wired, and you can only manage them.

coping with daily stress

How Does Havening Technique Work?

The consequences of trauma and distressing memories are stored in the brain which can be activated consciously or unconciously . And the Havening Technique helps you heal from them via synaptic depotentiation.

Think of it as the pathway that generates symptoms or feelings. So the Havening Techniques are designed to disrupt this pathway. In other words, they help you clear any past limiting experiences holding you back in the present. 

Unlike these mainstream methods such as talking therapy or medication, the Havening Techniques can enter the mind and the brain for therapeutic purposes through Havening touch (yes, a simple touch!), activation, and distraction.

The Havening Technique steps:

  1. Recall traumatic memory
  2. Rubb arms, palms, and face (using Havening touch) 
  3. Create a distraction by visualizing activities and counting

Prior to the three steps, you want to scale your response to the memory from 1-10, where one is feeling calm and confident, and 10 is feeling fear and anxiety.

After the session, you want to scale your response again to see if the trauma is completely gone or diminished. 

Havening touch

Can I do Havening to myself?

Yes, the Havening Technique is a simple process and easy to learn. But it takes some practice and skill to learn how to locate the core elements of a traumatic event.

Does it actually work?

There’s no clear answer since it’s a comparatively new way (less than two decades) to heal emotional traumas and help individuals become more resilient to stress, primarily based on empirical evidence. 

In one small 2015 study, 27 healthcare professionals who suffered from depression or anxiety reported general improvement in their symptoms and work performance after one session.

Although their results sound promising, experts have yet to run high-quality controlled trials.

Are there any risks?

Like every healing method, the Havening Techniques have possible side effects, especially if you are dealing with some severe trauma or a psychological disorder. If that’s the case, it’s recommended to use the modality only with a professional mental health care provider, fully trained and certified in the Havening Techniques. 

The side effects can result from bringing to the surface forgotten unresolved memories. 

Potential risks with using the Havening Techniques include:

  • In-session crying, anger, and physical movements
  • Post-havening lightheadedness
  • Rarely a temporary worsening of symptoms or emotional numbing

This said, in general, the Havening Technique is perfectly safe.

Where to Start 

First, be open-minded to learning this new healing modality. If you want to use it as a self-help tool, start with a less traumatic event or experience to work on. It can be any area of your life where you feel blocked.

Second, learn the technique by following the Havening Technique meditations. 

If you need a little help, you can find the Havening Technique meditation series by Paul McKenna on Mindvalley App, which is available for free.


paul mckenna havening technique

Access this FREE Meditation series on Mindvalley App


Written by
Irina Yugay