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 II
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.
H: You mentioned content-free work. Would you elaborate?
T: What I mean is that sometimes people avoid coming to therapy because they can’t face disclosing what happened to them. They just don’t want to talk it through. They may suspect that could be beneficial, but they just can’t face it. And so what I tell them is “Look, if you feel you want to disclose what it is and you want to get into content that’s fine. But if you actually want to keep to yourself what it is that’s going on and you just want to clear it without so much going into the content then we can do that.”
As long as they can access it in their own minds and experience feelings around it, then we can work with it, without me needing to know what they’re accessing.
H: So you find that working content-free on those cases is just as effective if they had articulated and shared the content?
T: Yes. Obviously there will be times when maybe it wouldn’t work so well if someone comes with a lot of complex issues that are interwoven. We need that detective hat on. But, when people are coming and they say, “I know what this is about. I just really want you to help me get rid of it. I don’t want to go over it. I don’t even want to tell you what it is,” Havening clears it just the same. I think it keeps it clean for the practitioner as well, because I’m not going to start having opinions or judgements about or try and second guess what their experience was like. It’s the most client-centered approach you can have.
H: Certainly. You’ve shared a lot about the various kinds of conditions that you have successfully used Havening to address. Are there any specific stories that you would be comfortable sharing about client breakthroughs or transformations as a result of the application of Havening?
T: Yes. There have been people who have come to me who have been severely abused for many years. As a result, their confidence and sense of self has been massively, negatively impacted by their experiences, which is completely understandable and natural. We have used Havening to help heal those multiple layers of trauma while also helping build a new sense of self that is more resourceful, more worthy, more resilient.
Obviously this is not a one session situation. There have been quite a number of clients where this has been their story. They’ve come out on the other side of the treatment completely free from the emotional pain of those years in the past, still knowing it happened but feeling like they’ve released their real self. In the process they have built a new self-concept. That’s been really rewarding.
And, I’ve found it equally rewarding when people have had very specific traumas, for example, a car crash. I’ve had people who have come to me who have been involved in car crashes and even where they have not had a physical injury, the shock of the experience is being replayed within them. They’ve not been able to get back into a day to day activity, like driving a car confidently to work or to wherever they need to be. It is incredibly rewarding to be able to help the client clear that kind of thing quickly and solidly and see that the very next day they are out and about driving and feeling normal again.
I recall one client who released a rather odd phobia. This person was terrified of buttons, and was responding to buttons as if there was a lion in the room and it was going to kill them. On one level, they knew this was ridiculous, but on another level, they just couldn’t help having this fear. And after Havening, the fear is completely gone. It seems like a very small silly thing for anyone who doesn’t have a fear of buttons! But you can imagine the number of contexts that this fear would show up in their life day by day.
H: Of course.
T: The impact of Havening just helps them get back into what they constitute as normal living.
H: With that client’s fear of buttons did you go back to a specific event that was the source?
T: In that one we did not. We couldn’t, because they didn't have a sense of its origins. So we ended up going with the most recent times where it terrified them, and also the earliest one that they could remember. Between those two categories, we managed to tap into the neural pathway, and it cleared. We don’t always need to find the originating event. It’s great if we can. But there are enough ways into that pathway where the fear was encoded that it cleared anyway.
H: It’s clear to me, both in my own practice and in my conversations with you and others that having the neurobiological understanding of depotentiating the encoded traumatic memories in the amygdala powerfully informs how we work with people, how we see them, and how we see the transformation happening.
H: How do you see Havening impacting mental health practices, particularly in terms of the treatment in trauma, say 10 to 20 years in the future? What do you imagine?
T: Well, in a way, we’re still in our infancy, aren’t we? In terms of Havening being a discipline and being known and accepted, it really is in the early stages. We’ve already got streams of research starting to happen. Once the studies start coming to fruition and results begin to be seen, people will open their eyes and ears and take more notice of it.
I’m excited about the possibilities. I’m seeing so much great work being done globally and it feels like we’re just approaching the starting block. I believe that in 20 years’ time it will be something that most people who are dealing with trauma will have at the top of their toolkit as an offering.
At the moment, the word is spreading through people who are directly experiencing the results going and telling other people who need those results. And there are some early adopters who are coming on, getting trained in it and doing great work in the world.
We also have organizations, like small veterans’ charities, where enough of their members have experienced the value of Havening that they’re really on board. What we want in 20 years’ time, hopefully a lot sooner than that, is for Havening to be really mainstream.
By that time there will have been enough clinical trials that are accepted by, for example in the UK, the NHS, National Health Service, and also by the big military charities, such that it becomes a tool of choice, a key offering. Instead of turning to drug treatments as a tool for managing someone who’s stressed out or someone who is struggling to sleep because they’re having flashbacks, rather than just reaching into that medical toolkit and that being the only offering, you would be able to use it in combination with Havening, or use Havening on its own as the amazing tool it is.
H: Thank you so much. We’ve talked a lot about Havening in terms of trauma and releasing the pain of traumatic memories and so forth, and most of that work is appropriately in the domain of mental health professionals, counselors, psychologists, therapists and so forth.
Can Havening be learned and used effectively by lay people, those who are not counselors, therapists, psychologists or even coaches and the like? And if so, how might a person use Havening for their own self care?
T: Yes! I think there’s a massive place for Havening for self-care and self-development. I think what we’ve got to be aware of here is if someone’s got some really heavy-duty stuff that they’re carrying around with them, it would be better for them to work with a certified practitioner to help them on that journey.
At the same time, there’s another level at which, we want to empower people to have these tools literally in their own hands. First of all, they can use self-havening to supplement any work that a practitioner's done with them.
So the practitioner might say, “Okay, we’ve done some clearing today. What I want you to do is go away and apply some Affirmational Havening,” for example. This is because if we are clearing we also want to be building in some good alternatives to begin to move towards. This is one way they can begin to build resilience.
Havening can also be used for state management. There are people who work in schools for example, with kids who have got exams coming up and they can teach the basics of Havening for state management, to get rid of those exam nerves. Or, if you’re going into an interview, and you are feeling a bit of anxiety, how about using a bit of Havening to calm yourself down and get yourself in the best possible state before you get out of the car and go into the office.
So you can focus on dealing with things live as they’re happening, as well as building in some positive resilience.
When she was 10, I taught my daughter Havening because she was having a bit of trouble at school with a few friends and it was starting to upset her. It was small stuff to me but you know how this kind of social stress can affect people, especially young people. So she was taking this tool to school and she could just nip off to the bathroom, make a few strokes on the face, say a few positive things to herself and she would leave feeling a little bit more grounded, a little bit more calm, having things in better perspective and more ready to get on with her day.
Families can use this beautifully. I’ve seen couples use positive touch as a way of communicating with each other, to be part of the solution rather than to be part of the problem. It’s wonderful to see these tools in the hands of families.
H: Thank you. Would you speak a little bit to the distinction of using Havening as mental health professional therapist and using Havening as an executive coach? You happen to be both, which is a wonderful combination. What are some of the distinctions of appropriate use in those different contexts?
T: When people are coming for coaching they’ve obviously got very different expectations than if they are coming for therapy, even though they may have some of the same needs.
But we frame things in different ways in a coaching session versus a therapy session. When someone comes for coaching, I’m teaching them tools that they can apply to increase their capacity to perform and their capacity to think, plan, lead and manage more clearly.
Usually the business is paying for the coaching, so the conversation is framed in terms of work-related performance. We ask, what’s going to help you function more effectively in your work role?
And although there can be massive personal benefits to that as well, this is how it tends to get framed. In the therapeutic room usually the client is paying and is open to whatever it is you are able to offer to them to get the job done.
H: Yes. And, of course, in terms of scope of practice it would be appropriate for someone who was a mental health professional to work with someone to clear their trauma. It wouldn’t necessarily be appropriate for a coach.
H: Havening is a tool, not a therapy, as we discussed before. And so, how that tool is applied very much depends on the scope of practice of the person who is using it.
T: Absolutely. Lots of different people are coming to learn Havening. We are constantly saying to people you know what your expertise is, you know your experience, you know what you’ve trained in. You know you can do wonderful work with Havening within that range of competency and legal scope of practice. There are plenty of people you can refer to if you need to help someone who is outside of that range. That’s absolutely right.
H: Thank you. What excites you the most about Havening? Of everything we’ve discussed, what excites you the most about having this tool available to you and more and more to the world?
T: Wow. I just think about those early, first times that I used Havening and the wow factor. That has stayed with me. Every time I’m working with a client I still experience that wow factor. But the first time I saw it, I thought, “my goodness, what a difference this can make to individuals and in the hands of many therapists, coaches, supporters, carers of one sort or another.” The reach of possibilities with Havening are unlimited, especially when we can work via Skype, where there are no geographical boundaries.
We have people going to war torn areas, helping individuals who are fleeing for their lives from their own countries. They’re offering Havening to people whose lives are in tatters and it’s helping to get them back onto an even keel. It’s so powerful and so easy to teach people, and in the right hands easy to do very deep and life-changing work on the therapeutic side of things. I’m just excited about how far this could reach.
Every time we’ve done a training, different kinds of professionals show up. I think, “Gosh, there’s another area I hadn’t even thought of where Havening's going to be doing some great work in the right hands with the right specialist.”
We were in Denmark recently and there were several teachers from a school that specializes in working with kids with autism. Of course in this context there will need to be some tweaks to the way in which it’s delivered and the way in which they interact and introduce Havening, but already so many ideas are coming out about just what a great place Havening will have within that school as a core tool. Parents came to the training as well and it was exciting to see that there’s so many possibilities. That’s just one example.
H: Are there specific situations and contexts where it’s not advisable to use Havening?
T: First of all, make sure you’re the right person to be using Havening in the right context with the right purpose. Beyond that, don’t put any limits on using it. I mean, you wouldn't want an inexperienced therapist to work with someone with complex PTSD, or schizophrenia. But that would be the same with any tool. You wouldn’t want someone without sufficient experience and expertise to be working with really complex issues with any tool.
On the other hand, someone who’s experienced and qualified to be working with people in many different areas will be able to see how Havening could fit in. They’ll be the best expert to determine where it’s going to be used. I wouldn’t want to limit that.
The question to ask is this: are you the right person to be doing this work with this individual given your specific experience and expertise?
H: Yes. Thank you so much. Tony, at this point you have trained, over the past couple of years, hundreds of people in Havening. You’re the director for training in the UK and for Europe. You’ve trained in many countries throughout Europe. I met you in Los Angeles, so you’ve trained in the United States. There was recently a training in Australia. What are you observing as you travel around the world, training, and spreading the word about this tool? What are you seeing in terms of people’s level of acceptance, excitement and enthusiasm?
T: One thing I’m delighted by is that culture or language doesn’t seem to matter, it’s carrying well. So we’ve now done this in Sweden, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Australia. We’ve got activity in the US and Canada. So there’s lots of great work. Ulf Sandstrom, one of our trainers, has done work in India as well.
H: Yes. Ulf was just in Turkey last week, working with folks who unfortunately had been impacted by the crisis in Syria.
T: Yes, that’s right! Havening is being taken on board in different cultures and different languages. The science and the technique is translating well. I’ve done some trainings where everything I’ve said is being translated as I go and I’ve been kind of a bit nervous about how this would carry. On the whole, they're getting it, they are excited, and they’re reporting back about their positive results.
What also stimulates me is the range of people in the room. I’ve got my own areas of expertise, and I’m learning from the people in the room as much as they’re learning from me.
I’m able to share about Havening, but their different niches, expertise, areas of application are fascinating to me. It’s challenging as well, because I’ll get some neuroscience questions that I’ve never been asked before. And that inspires me to get curious and to go back to Dr. Ruden and ask more questions. So this international activity and expansion is keeping me stimulated and on my toes.
H: Wonderful! One last question, Tony. What advice would you give someone, mental health professional, coach, nurse, teacher, or lay person who is looking into the possibility of attending a training and adding the Havening Techniques to their toolkit?
T: Well, you probably won’t be surprised for me to say this, but just do it. Just do it because even if you’re skeptical, which I can often be, the best way to prove it one way or the other is to find out for yourself, to actually get hands on.
That’s the best way to prove it to yourself. Even if your current role will not allow you to use Havening yet. For example, here in the UK if a psychiatrist who is working for NHS or a psychologist working for NHS comes and trains, they wouldn’t be allowed to use it in their NHS practice yet, but they’re early adopters, they want to be ahead. They want to understand what’s coming. They want to be the ones who have already been trained in it so that by the time the research studies appear, they will be ready to help lead the way in their scope of operating.
I strongly encourage you to be one of those early adopters. And beyond thinking about what you could do for others, there will be many benefits for yourself. Havening is not going away. This movement is growing globally, month by month. In the international Havening practitioner conference last year, for example, it was delightful to see that there were 14 countries represented.
And Havening has only been available to the general public since 2013. So, this is going places. Soon, everyone will know about Havening who is in any way involved with change work. To be on board in this stage is exciting.
There’s also a great community you will be joining. And every day we see on the Facebook page, where the doctors are taking part and answering questions and asking stimulating questions, we see people reporting success after success as well as asking for help with specific cases and situations. It’s heartwarming to see how much good in the world it’s already doing.
So to be part of that community, part of that journey, I think you’d look back in 20 years’ time and say, “Getting involved with the Havening movement was one of the best decisions I ever made.” Certainly for me, given I wasn’t looking for anything new, it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made to go to that training and integrate Havening into my day-to-day practice.
H: Yes. I’ve found the community of practitioners and trainers to be invaluable. And one of the finest communities in terms of a good balance between head and heart. It’s full of people who are intelligent and focused on expanding their knowledge and at the same time they express a tremendous degree of caring for other people. And as you mentioned, it’s a truly international group. It’s an honor to be part of truly a global movement that is helping to heal people in the most essential way. Thank you.