Havening – Creating An Emotional ‘Safe Haven’ Through Touch

This remarkably simple psycho-sensory technique was devised by Dr Ronald Ruden. Similar to EMDR and tapping, it calms, soothes and neutralises overwhelming and difficult emotions and can be used in the management of phobias, post-traumatic stress and anxiety.

It can be applied to another person or to oneself and involves a repetitive, stroking, caressing touch to the upper arms, hands and / or face. It can be used to calm a distressed person in the moment or to neutralise distressing memories from past events. The subject would in that case be asked to recall the emotionally disturbing event while the practitioner gently applies Havening touch to their arms, hands and face. 

My video shows how to apply a combination of all three variations to oneself. I have included the addition of crossed hands for the face. This creates a continuous flow all the way to the hands, but also it feels more like receiving the soothing touch from someone else. You will be surprised at how pleasant and relaxing it is.

Dr Ruden studied how and why it seemed so effective and Doug O’Brien has made an excellent video with clear explanations of the likely neuroscience behind Havening.

Because of its no-cost simplicity, research studies on its clinical effectiveness are very limited. One sample of 27 participants completed self-reported measures of depression, anxiety, and social adjustment before, and one week and two months after, a Havening intervention. Scores on the different measures were better after the intervention than before. The authors note that the study is limited by “its small sample size” and “lack of control group”.


An interview with Dr Ronald Ruden, the originator of Havening

Paul McKenna shows how Havening can be combined with EMDR

Dr Robin Youngson demonstrating Havening

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