ACCREDITED TRAINING IN THE
NOVEMBER 2nd & 3rd, 2019
A TOOL, NOT A THERAPY
Chapter 7 of Fifteen Minutes to Freedom
Interview with Tony Burgess, Part I
Tony is Tony Burgess is Head of Trainer Training for Havening Techniques®. He was one of the very first people to be approved as a Certified Havening Techniques® Practitioner and also one of the first to become a Certified Havening Techniques® Trainer. He was also Head of UK and Europe for Havening Techniques® from September 2014 to April 2017.
Harry: Tony, how did you first discover Havening?
Tony: I remember it very well. It was back in 2012. I was in a networking meeting with someone who had seen Paul McKenna do a Havening demonstration. They knew that I worked with people who experienced trauma. The person said, “What do you think of Havening Techniques®? It seems very good!”
I had not heard of Havening, so I asked some questions. Where have you experienced this? What did you see? How does it work? And she recommended Dr. Ron Ruden’s book, When the Past is Always Present.
That was my first time delving into Havening, through the book. At the time I can remember searching online for any trainings or any people who are offering Havening, and there was nothing available in 2012.
So, I went from the book. I had clients who gave me their permission to work with them, with the textbook version of Havening. It was not until 2013, a year later, that there was any training available.
H: It’s remarkable how far things have come in the four years since you first read the book and the three years since the trainings have occurred.
T: Yes, it feels like forever.
H: At the same time, I think we’re standing at the threshold of a significant expansion both of our understanding of how Havening works and of the number of people who are embracing this tool.
Tony, sometimes Havening looks and seems to be too good to be true. Many people are skeptical when they first hear about it. Were you skeptical at first? And if so, what changed your mind?
T: I’m open minded, but I’m skeptical. So, I’m willing to try new things and test new things. But I like to experience something first hand. If someone had just told me “Oh, you stroke someone’s face and you stroke their arm and it gets rid of their life long trauma,” I wouldn’t buy it. I’d need to see it with my own eyes and test it with my own hands.
Reading the book was my first dip in. When I read the book, I understood straight away that this guy knows his neuroscience. He put a lot of work into explaining it from a scientific perspective, and that spoke to me in terms of credibility.
Then, once I got permission from clients to try it out, once I tested it and had seen it with my own eyes, I was absolutely, immediately convinced that this was a powerful tool and I needed to learn and know more about it. My skepticism disappeared pretty quickly.
H: Do you recall any of those early clients that you tested it with and the results that you experienced?
T: Yes I do. They came in with really significant, heavy duty, traumas. I didn’t start with someone who had a minor issue with confidence. I knew I was a competent therapist and I knew I had the tools in the toolkit to help people. So, I wasn’t afraid of taking on those tougher clients. And the results were remarkable. Havening proved itself convincingly.
For example, one client comes in having had experienced personal attacks that they couldn’t even talk about without being overcome by floods of tears at the very beginning of the session. Within a single Havening session, they’re able to talk about these experiences, knowing that it all happened, but completely free from all of the emotional upheaval that went along with it. It really felt like they were again stepping back into freedom.
H: Who are your typical clients?
T: Julie, my partner who runs the business with me, and I both love to work with a variety of clients. We’ve got personal coaching clients who are working with confidence issues. We’ve got executive coaching clients where the focus is more about maximizing resilience and performance. We’ve got therapeutic clients who are coming with more heavy-duty issues.
We also work with teams and managers and leaders in business as well. A wide, wide range of clients. I’ve found that Havening can have a part to play with all of those different clients and the work we do with them.
H: That’s interesting. Since you work with people throughout this wide range, from those who are severely traumatized to those who are essentially healthy but want to get an edge in their performance, I would suppose you have a comprehensive sense of the various applications of Havening.
I know that you have a solid grasp of many tools for facilitating positive change. You’re an NLP practitioner, a coach, and a therapist. You had lots and lots of effective tools in your toolkit before encountering Havening.
H: Given that you were coming into Havening, already working with a wide range of clients, already having a solid container of tools to use, why did you choose to use and integrate Havening and then to move in the direction not only of becoming a practitioner but becoming the head of training in the UK and Europe?
What was it specifically about Havening that inspired somebody like you, who was already successful, already possessing plenty of effective tools and techniques, to embrace it so fully?
T: I wasn’t looking for anything, but I’m open to what’s out there and I guess I get curious when I hear there’s something new I’m not aware of. That's what grabbed me with Havening in the first place. I picked up the book. It spoke to me. And it was those first experiences of using it that were so convincing.
Something that really surprised me was how rapid, complete and lasting it was. The skeptic in me was thinking, “Is this problem really gone for good?” Obviously, I’ve been able to follow up with those people now. Here we are in 2016, four years later and the problems are still gone. There’s the proof.
Havening is also clear cut. My client who was in tears and unable to communicate about something because of the trauma was able to talk about it freely and easily afterwards. That’s a big transformation in a very short period of time.
My NLP toolkit can get quick results. But with Havening, from the very first time I take the tool out of the toolkit, and the first client I use it with, we get such compelling results. And then the same thing happens with the next one, and the next one. This is remarkable.
And when I began using Havening, I was careful to strip it down to its bare bones and use only the basic Havening protocols. I wasn’t weaving it into my other tools and techniques at the time. I was testing it in its essence. And I saw — I knew — that this stuff just works. I love stuff that just works.
H: I’m assuming that Havening has transformed your own practice in a sense. Is it one of the first tools that you now use regardless of the issue?
T: It is with many of my clients, certainly my one to one clients. Whenever I’m working with a one to one client, I’m aware that Havening can help serve this person one way or another, whatever the starting point.
Now when we’re training trainers and corporate teams, that’s a different side of the business, where I’m not as likely to introduce Havening — at least initially. But in my one to one work, it’s become my tool of choice. It’s right at the top of the toolkit.
H: What does Havening do that other tools and modalities cannot do, or do as easily or readily?
T: From my perspective, it’s how it directly gets to the part of the brain that we need to access. When you start to learn the science of amygdala de-potentiation, what’s happening is that we’re literally stripping receptors off of the surface of neurons in the amygdala. That’s clear and direct. We’re not persuading someone. We’re not giving them some clever suggestion. We’re directly getting to where the memory’s been encoded and we’re making biological changes in there that free people. To me, this is remarkable.
I’m sure that all the other methods in the toolkit in some way are influencing brain chemistry, even in the way that the mind reframes things; there’s a biological equivalent to that. But there’s something nice and clear cut about what occurs in Havening. We use the protocol, neurons lose receptors and it changes everything.
H: Yes. Brain surgery in the palm of your hands, in a way.
H: That’s exciting. What was most difficult for you as you integrated Havening into your current work and your current practice. Were there any challenges?
T: Well I suppose some people are skeptical, so there’s a bit of a sales job in a way.
T: Because I get it. I’m seeing it with my own eyes. You tell someone again that you’re going to stroke their face or arms and it’s going to do so much for them. It can seem a little unbelievable.
I tend to explain a bit about the neuroscience, and tell them stories of people who I’ve worked with, without naming names, simply telling those success stories. But the skepticism can be a little bit of a challenge because it does often seem too good to be true.
I remember Ron Ruden at the first London training I went to in May 2013. He said to the group, “You know, you’ll get success after success after success, rapid, amazing almost miraculous change happening right in front of you, session after session. And you could start to think that you can just do that with absolutely everyone, no matter what they bring, and you could get a little bit cocky if you’re not careful. And then something will blindside you and you’ll come across one that will seem on the surface like it will be so simple, but it will just stump you. It will not go according to plan.” I suppose a positive challenge for me is that there are those cases where you’ve got to have that detective hat on and you’ve got to keep really alert and curious and quizzical to really get to the bottom of the issue so that your client can heal.
You have to look more deeply at what’s going on for this person. Where’s the real origin to this issue?
Now we’ve got the tools to clear it, but where are the origins, where are the layers and how do we get to the absolute core of this? So it’s a positive challenge. I didn’t see it as a problem; I found integrating Havening into the toolkit a very easy thing.
H: And it is deceptively simple. The one thing that becomes clear as you explore the neurobiology of what’s happening and you study Dr. Ruden’s work, you see that the apparent simplicity belies significant complexity in terms of process and understanding. It took a lot of research and a lot of real work to first understand this process of depotentiation and then to make it so simple.
How about the issue of touch? It hasn’t been standard practice to use touch in this way in a therapeutic context with clients. How do you discuss this and how do your clients respond?
T: For me, it’s about making sure there’s no surprises. My clients know and are fully informed that Havening involves touch. It’s a permission-based, respectful, client-centered approach.
We also know that we can do Havening without needing to touch our clients. They can do all of the touch for themselves if that’s ever an issue. In fact, some practitioners run their practices entirely without ever touching their clients, using Havening. So that is also an option.
For me, it’s about making sure that they know what’s coming. That I’ve described the process clearly. I’ve positioned my hands around the areas that will be touched and shown them exactly what to expect.
“This process will involve me stroking around this area, around this area, is that okay? Is it okay for me to sit here?”
It’s all permission based, very respectful, making sure that they’re the one who’s making choices and in charge. And if touch is okay with them, brilliant. We can go for it. If it’s not, then we can just guide them through the touch for themselves.
H: Yes. And most of your clients respond positively?
T: Yes, they do. In a way, I’ve been surprised just how infrequently someone has a problem being touched, particularly considering the issues people come with. Sometimes touch has been part of the trauma. And so I was a little surprised that they were okay with it, with someone they trusted and felt safe with and had rapport with. But immediately once the process begins, it’s very soothing and naturally reassuring, and I think that helps.
H: Yes. Also, Tony, I’ve observed you work and you have a very powerful, yet soothing and comforting therapeutic presence. I would imagine that such a degree of therapeutic presence and rapport would also create a tremendous degree of safety and ease for your clients.
T: Thank you.
H: You’re welcome. What is the range of conditions that you’ve been able to successfully address with Havening?
T: The main areas for me are clearing traumatic events, stress, and confidence. As far as other Havening practitioners are concerned, there are people who specialize in treating addictions, or sexual disorders, or OCD, or whatever. Quite a variety of things.
My therapeutic work is more focused on clearing event trauma, and for my coaching clients, removing anxieties and negative stress. Sometimes someone can come and they wouldn’t even describe themselves as having trauma, but they’re effectively almost at a breaking point. Their tank is so full of frustrations, stresses, strains and pressures from the day-to-day grind that may not be being expressed or released in any way.
When that tank’s so full, they might as well have had a major trauma because they’re functioning at a much lower level. They’re just not coping well, small things are setting them off and they’re only half living, really.
With these clients, I help them deal with their stress and anxiety issues. For example, someone’s not happy about making sales calls. Or, someone’s not happy about standing up and speaking in public. Or, they are hesitant or anxious about going and asking the boss for a raise or have other issues around their lack of confidence.
From the therapy standpoint, I’m using Havening to remove phobias, to help people who are having nightmares and flashbacks, to help people who have had physical conditions where there’s been a stress or trauma origin to those physical conditions, to help people deal with pain. There are so many applications. Sometimes I’m doing content-free work, so I really don’t know what the issue is that I’m working with, and the clients report great benefit afterwards.
Read Part II of Tony's Interview HERE