The problem with Havening and touching
Havening is a brand new therapy that can show some amazing results. Paul Mckenna is perhaps the most high profile practitioner of the therapy. There is no doubt that it can have some remarkable changes for people.
You can read more about havening here: http://www.markpowlett.co.uk/myblog/read_75789/paul-mckenna-havening-technique-how-does-it-work.html
The problems with havening.
There are some issues around why havening is unlikely to become more widespread and used by other practitioners though. It is a shame because research is showing good responses. However, what could be seen as its strength is also something that may be limiting too.
The issue of havening touch.
Havening touch is an integral part of the therapy. The connection between the bad experience/thought/memory and touching is the most important part.
This means that the therapist is using their touch sometimes on the face and arms of the client. Many therapists see this is a problem. As part of their professional practice they would never touch a patient as this can put them in an awkward and uncomfortable position and cause more issues than it solves. Someone with problems related to sexual abuse for instance, would most likely be very uncomfortable with being touched, and for this reason would most likely not even ask for help in the first place. It is possible to teach people to self-haven but the teachers of the therapy do say that it is more effective and works better when you do it for someone. We can all benefit from touch in our personal lives, but is it appropriate in a therapeutic situation?
As one respected therapist put it to me “The problem is that the world of psychology will never accept havening, unfortunately because of that touch. However effective it is or isn’t they will never even look at it. In my opinion you cannot have a situation where a therapist starts cupping a client’s face in his hands. I cringe at the thought. I don’t want to touch people.”
“I can imagine some squaddie who has been blown up in Afghanistan going to see havening person who suddenly starts cupping his face in their hands. I think he might get a little bit angry at that!” As PTSD is seen as one of the things that can be helped this is a shame.
Of course for many people this will be comfortable and they will be happy, but sadly the touch can also put others off. There are many other types of therapy and because of this you can choose someone to work with who has the right training can techniques to help you. Never be afraid to ask for help. We all need a little help sometimes and we will all find the right way for us.
You can email me via my contact page.
Update September 2018: Since this blog post was written in 2015 I have been lucky enough to work with a Havening trainer and learn much more about how Havening works as it was something that I thought my practice could benefit from. This original blog post was written after discussion with others who make a valid point that touch can be inappropriate in a therapist session to many people. The idea that this could be a reason why it is not as widespread as other techniques is still a possibility. What I have learned about how the Havening technique works is that it is possible to use techniques on yourself and this self-havening way of working with people can therefore even by undertaken with Skype as well as in the practice clinic where demonstrating the technique can then lead to the client being able to use them on themselves. It is another very useful techniques that stands amongst many others in helping people to overcome trauma and move forward with their lives. I am grateful to the people who have reached out to me to talk about their experiences which led me to learn much more about putting havening into practice for myself.