By Jamie Stern

It can be very confusing to navigate trauma. It’s easy to feel disoriented by triggers and isolated by thoughts and reactions. Sometimes we wonder why certain triggers happen. Why are some triggers inconsistent? Some triggers seem worse than others. Some events seem more intense than others but produce a lesser response which can create dissonance, internal conflicts, and self-judgment. Some traumas are confusing because they are not singular events; they might be compounded events, continuous complex experiences, or there might have been no specific event at all – just the sense that something “should have” been different. To the individual experiencing this, it can feel like a tremendous challenge to just manage in their daily life. Havening Therapy has developed protocols to help in combating this very disorienting, but very human experience.

When traumatic encoding occurs in the brain, some critical parameters are being met. First, there is an event that causes a big change in neurochemical levels. This event triggers an emotional response and elevates the electrochemical energy to 100-120Hz (Gamma Waves). Second, the meaning of the event is actively interpreted as negative, and usually threatens loss of some kind. Third, the event feels inescapable, either physically or emotionally. And fourth, the landscape of the mind or physical environment permits (or even encourages) the event to happen. With these four factors in place, and enough electrochemical energy, a trauma is encoded. The trauma can be encoded in multiple different ways including:


  • Cognitive (the conscious and subconscious)
  • Emotional (affective response to an event) 
  • Somatosensory (felt through the body as pain, tingling, numbness, or other sensations) 
  • Autonomic (brain functions that regulate body functions) 


Havening Therapy is a psychosensory modality which uses sensory input to help modify thoughts, behaviors, and moods. But does it work? The answer is yes. Havening Therapy works well and rapidly because it honors the same mechanisms that are natural to the body’s rhythm, our innate need for safety, and internal encoding system. Just as trauma will encode when specific criteria are met, safety can also encode under the right circumstances. Successful Havening Therapy can be administered by a practitioner, a trusted loved one who has learned the technique, or it can be applied to oneself. Repetition is a key component in Havening Therapy. When applied properly, it can be used to soothe and redirect synaptic firing in the brain. When electrical energy stops traveling through neural pathways associated with trauma, and is redirected through Havening Therapy protocols, a new pathway is created. This process literally starves off energy from that old pattern and promotes a new healthier one. This creates an opportunity to heal through neuroplasticity which is the growth and reorganization of both individual neuron pathways (making new connections), and systematic adjustments like remapping of neural networks. Individuals can self-haven regularly to enhance their joy and peace by creating opportunities to connect more fully with emotional experiences that they would like to have more frequently in their day-to-day life.


Havening Therapy


Ultimately, the goal in Havening Therapy is to facilitate a feeling-state that can then be used to create a healing internal environment. This feeling-state can be used to effectively finish processing old trauma that has become stuck. It can also be used to anchor and connect to positive feeling-states that an individual would like to experience more often. By creating this anchor, and practicing this feeling-state regularly, an individual can take themselves back to this safe haven anytime they wish. 


Havening Therapy can be described as the safety of a hug, or the gentle comfort often made available to newborns. (Personally, I like to joke that our nervous system is a big baby wanting to be loved and made to feel safe! – And there’s nothing wrong with that!) Havening Therapy is applied externally, typically on the arms, palms, and face. The touch is gentle, soothing, and loving. Applications of Havening Therapy can occur between therapists and clients, parents and children, friends, couples, oneself, and more. As humans, we are wired for connection. We want to be connected to others, as well as to ourselves.