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NOVEMBER 2nd & 3rd, 2019


Chapter 34 of Fifteen Minutes to Freedom

Interview with Dr. Steven Ruden

Dr. Ruden is the educational director of Havening Research.

Harry: Dr. Ruden, you have been part of the journey of Havening since your brother’s initial research and experimentation. What have you discovered?

Steven: As we began this journey more than ten years ago, we really didn’t understand very much of what was happening, both in terms of the process as well as the outcomes we were observing. Even though we noticed that people were losing fears, feeling better, acting differently, the deeper understanding of what we’re doing was not yet clear; we weren’t sure what was working and why.


So we set out to discover and develop protocols that work well to address people’s problems and that were also based on a sound scientific understanding. As we continued our research and exploration, new science was coming out all the time, which we incorporated into the model.


We came to a point where we were using a very specific type of Havening  — Event Havening — as our model. Then we discovered we also could do other things as we understood more about the impact of touch in the generation of delta waves. This emerged as we applied the insights contained in Mel Harper’s article, Taming the Amygdala.

As a result, we expanded our menu of protocols to include Transpirational, Ifformational, Hopeful, Affirmational and Outcome Havening. Each of these protocols, although it incorporates Havening touch, works differently than our original Event Havening protocols.


We now understand that activating new possibilities operates by a different mechanism than de-potentiating traumatically encoded memories.


H: Thank you. So Havening Techniques developed through this iterative process of research, practice, experimentation, discovery. You continue refining both as new science emerges and as you would experiment more and more with the protocols, embracing this continuous process of improvement.


Most people are somewhat skeptical when they first hear about Havening, because the results seem too good to be true. I went through that phase myself and later, as I met you and your brother, went to the workshops, experienced Havening myself, and explored the techniques with my own clients, what seemed to be too good to be true very quickly became almost commonplace, in terms of what you expect.   


When your brother first started talking about this were you skeptical? What were some of the things that went through your mind as you were beginning to discover this new paradigm of healing?


S: First of all, I’m still amazed. Ron and I used to talk about it. ”What are people going to say when we tell them to hum a tune, rub their arms and do a visualization and then their life long problems will disappear?" So, in our initial presentations, we were very selective in choosing who we would bring this to. We knew we had something extraordinary, but we were challenged on how to share it with the public, because we expected the skepticism you mentioned.


We also devoted a lot of time to discussing the science that we felt was the underpinning, because what we saw clinically and experienced ourselves was so different than anything we had seen. We felt we had to talk about the science to convince people that this kind of rapid permanent change was even a reasonable possibility.


Of course, if one looks at the history of healing, going all the way back to the shamans, to surgical techniques, to germ theory, to psychopharmacology, to psychology, all of these things evolved out of a single idea. And all were controversial in their time.


H: Clearly with Havening, you’re operating out of a new paradigm. Whenever a new paradigm, like germ theory, is introduced, at first it seems illogical, or perhaps too good to be true. Then, once the new paradigm begins to be accepted and there’s an understanding of what underlies it, then there’s a greater degree of acceptance.


S: As Arthur Schopenhauer is reported to have said, "When a new idea is introduced it is ridiculed. Second it is violently opposed. Third it is accepted as self-evident.”

People suffer needlessly because at the present time there’s not an optimal way to treat their suffering. Maybe psychopharmacology helps. But I think this new paradigm without medication, without long psychotherapeutic or talk therapy, may be another way that we can help people achieve their preferred outcomes in life.


One thing that’s nice about Havening, as compared to other modalities, is that not only can we remove barriers that keep people held in their past, but we can also introduce new ideas and hopeful ideas and compelling values and passion and purpose that allow them to move forward in their lives. It really does provide a complete circle of well-being.


Havening is also one of those innovations that is emerging from a new understanding that creating well-being requires addressing both physical AND emotional dimensions, whereas historically these elements were separated. But we know that physical and emotional healing are totally intertwined with each other. One begets the other.


H: That’s interesting. I appreciate the point that you are making about physical and emotional well-being being linked. The neurobiology of Havening and its application both in terms of removing emotional residue of painful memories, as well as enhancing outcomes, speaks to that beautifully, because the physical and the emotional are intertwined. When you first discovered the power of this tool, did you work with your own patients who had dental phobias?


S: Yes. In fact, I still use Havening in my dental practice. If the patient’s in the chair and they say, “I’m really anxious,” I ask them if they would mind if I use a procedure called Havening to help.  And I briefly describe the process. And, of course their emotions are totally activated in that moment. So, I haven them. Usually, in about five minutes or so, we’re able to help them get comfortable enough to proceed with treatment. The anxiety or fear that was there before is no longer present.


I use Havening every day. I don’t necessarily do a full-on Havening process but certainly I’m able to modulate a lot of emotions, especially with children who are scared. And I have their mothers help me out, and haven the children while I instruct them.


I also use Havening with my staff. When someone on my staff is having a particular problem, I may come in and work with them. So, I use it every day in my dental practice. It makes my life, the lives of my staff and my patients lives more comfortable.


H: Have you spoken to other dentists or hygienists about using Havening in their practice? Have you shared this tool with your dental professional community?


S: I have. I was invited by my local dental society to talk to other dentists. The presentation was well-received. I’ve done demonstrations of these procedures with dentists observing and they’re impressed. And, of course, there’s a big leap between seeing something and doing something. Anyone who wants to use Havening professionally needs to be trained properly and go through the certification process so that when they want to use it in their practice, they are adept.


H: Thank you. How do you see Havening eventually impacting mental health practices, particularly in terms of treating traumatic experiences? 10 or 20 years down the road, what is your vision or your sense of the impact that Havening could have on that larger context?


S: My hope is that Havening will become the default approach. Our primary goal right now is to maintain the integrity of our trainings, the integrity of our certified practitioners, the integrity of how our trainers go out and train so that we maintain a consistent message and consistent quality. In this way, we know that the new people who are going out into the world as ambassadors for and representatives of Havening Techniques will be able to produce the same outcomes that we do at this present time.


H: Can Havening be used and learned affectively by lay people, people who are not counselors, therapists, psychologists, coaches and the like? And if so, how might a lay person use Havening, for example for self-care, or is Havening something that really exclusively should only be used within that professional context?


S: We’ve recently been exploring that question. My personal view is that people can use Havening in a wide variety of arenas. So, for example, if people are having difficulties in their marriage or if they have children that are ill or if they have things that cause them distress, people should learn how to self-haven, just as people should learn how to meditate, or practice mindfulness, or exercise. I think Havening ultimately will be one of those tools that will help improve everybody’s well-being.


H: Thank you so much. You’re out in the world and involved with many trainings. You touch everybody who is either training in or personally benefiting from Havening because of your role in Havening Research. What are you seeing as Havening spreads around the world? What’s most encouraging? As I recall there are now 15 or 16 countries that have certified Havening Techniques® practitioners, or where trainings have taken place. What are you discovering as this idea, and this new paradigm of healing spreads around the planet?


S: I think it’s pretty universal. What I see for the most part is that the people who haven other people are thrilled and they enjoy their work and it gives them great pleasure to be able to help another individual. I think anyone who discovers Havening or is introduced to it in the proper way is astonished. Then they get to a point where they want to try it on everything that comes along!


What we see globally is how exciting it is that Havening can used in conjunction with other skill sets that they have already. People are using Havening with their psychotherapy, with their NLP, with their hypnosis, with their massage, with their Reiki, with the other modalities that they have spent perhaps a lifetime practicing and perfecting. And they take Havening because it’s a wonderful adjunct and use it in a way that’s appropriate for that person at that moment.


What we see globally is that people are beginning to use Havening earlier on in the process of healing, then bringing in their other tools and procedures as needed.


And what we’re seeing already for those people who have been working with Havening Techniques for a year or more is that they’re using Havening more frequently as their go-to procedure and then bringing in other procedures as needed.   


Others who are new to this tend to stay with their existing ideas and understanding and introduce Havening over time. Either way, we are getting positive feedback from all of the people who are participating.


The other day on the Facebook page I saw a post in Norwegian and sometimes there are posts in German and sometimes Italian and I chuckled to myself. How global we’ve really become after only a couple of years since Ron and I introduced Havening to the world community! And we are growing in the way we are without any large marketing, mostly by word of mouth.     


It’s very encouraging to us. People are drawn to Havening who want to do projects and research. We have people doing projects with veterans, actors, school children, hospice workers, nurses, educators and other healthcare professionals. Havening seems to being viewed globally with great excitement.


One of the challenges we face as we bring this new paradigm of healing into the world, is that every country has its own rules, regulations, and restrictions. Some are more flexible and some are less flexible in terms of how health care providers are allowed to serve their clients. So in some countries, only trained psychotherapists are able to do this work. In some countries, until the work is evidence-based, meaning a critical mass of peer-reviewed research has been completed and published, practitioners cannot use techniques that might produce outstanding results. In some countries, the guidelines are much more flexible. So we are navigating this river of regulations carefully.


H: It must be exciting for you, having been part of this since the very beginning, to see this idea whose time has come beginning to spread in so many ways. Are you and your brother continuing to do new research and develop new protocols and possibilities? Are you also involved right now in creating those more traditional research studies so that eventually Havening has the reinforcement of publication in academic journals? What’s happening in that arena?


S: Well, to your first question, it’s always evolving. It’s always evolving and we are always learning new applications. So, for example, Gina Pickersgill is working with Second Life, which is a online virtual world in which people adapt avatars and interact with other avatars via the web. She is havening people as avatar to avatar on the website successfully.


H: Virtual havening in other words.


S: Yes! I’ve experienced it!   


H: And the results are equivalent or comparable as in person?


S: I can only give my experience. I actually felt I was there. I’m sitting in front of my computer screen and I’m self-havening along with the avatar.


H: Fascinating.


S: Fascinating stuff! So, virtual Havening via avatar is cutting edge and may be useful in very specific circumstances. Ron and I are also looking at how Havening can help address specific challenges.   


For example, we’re working to see if Havening is valuable in obsessive-compulsive disorders. We’re looking at best practices for working with veterans, and best practices with other specific populations.  So, this simple concept regarding use of delta waves and activation/depotentiation of a memory is proving to be applicable and useful for a wide variety of issues.


I’m also moving more towards the idea that helping improve resistance to disease and build resilience are going to be the future keys of well-being. Havening is the ideal tool to do this.


If one were to look at an optimal modality, it would contain the following items. It’s easy to learn. It’s transportable. All you need are your hands. You can treat large groups of people at the same time. You could use it over Skype or virtual media, so you don’t have to be present. It would have zero side effects. These are characteristics of what an ideal health treatment would be.


And we are also learning that our emotional history is the precursor to our adult well-being. As you know, the child is the father to the man. As we have experiences in our childhood, how we experience life through the prism of our perceptions allows us to be resilient or vulnerable, allows us to develop emotionally stable behaviors and responses, or not.


If you have too much trauma and are unable to regulate it, the allostatic load is increased. That is the amount of energy the body needs in order to remain in homeostasis. And eventually the stressors of this high allostatic load allow for permissiveness of disease presentation.


What we see in Havening is once the allostatic load is reduced, the outcomes or consequences of this load also disappear.     


So, I don’t talk about Havening in terms of treating a particular diagnosis. I facilitate an individual being able to self-heal. As compared to the medical model in which the physician takes the role of healing the patient, I do not heal my patient, my patient heals himself or herself.


The paradigm of physician trying to heal a patient in the United States today has created the most unhealthy population in the history of this country. In spite of the fact that we have all of these superior technological models, people are more obese, have higher rates of diabetes, autism is 1 out of 68 new births, depression is at all time high, autoimmune diseases are increasing. One must ask, “Why?”


My view is that the adaptive capacity of the individual is being stressed and that stressor is the traumatic events that have been encoded in their brain that increased the allostatic load and caused the stress response to be unable to be turned off.


We want to help people understand that this trauma creates suffering, and this suffering creates a desire to remove the suffering, and this desire is at the root of all addictive behaviors and cravings.


I take exception to the fact that in current thinking people who treat suffering think it’s the drug that’s the problem, that heroin — that’s the problem, or cocaine — that’s the problem, or the over-eating — that’s the problem, or the alcohol — that’s the problem. That’s not the problem! Because brain scans that are taken of people who are drug addicted, alcohol addicted, food addicted, shop addicted, work addicted, all show the same basic pattern.


H: And that pattern is the increased allostatic load, the traumatically encoded memories, creating a permissive landscape.


S: Yes, and it looks the same for all of them!


H: Thereby demonstrating the value and efficacy of a tool like Havening, which not only works to reduce the specific emotion connected to the traumatic memory, but also helps to build a more resilient landscape.


So, what you’re saying is the emerging paradigm that you’re operating out of is about well-being, and as I understand it, you’re implying that the cause of the lack of well-being shows up in all these different ways, in obesity, in health problems, in addiction, etc. But at the root, that cause is having too many traumatically encoded memories impacting brain chemistry.

Is that right?

S: The cause is suffering, and the attempt to alleviate that suffering. And people suffer, express and assuage their suffering in different ways.


H: And through the practice of a tool like Havening, we get to remove the root of the suffering in the first place?


S: Yes.


H: That has profound implications for humanity as a whole.


S: I know.


H: Because we are really talking about the cause of disease, discord, distress being this neurobiological response to trauma. And the cure for disease, discord, distress, being the reversal of that.


S: Correct. And there has been no down-regulatory mechanism in the human system to remove an encoded traumatic event up until now.


H: Yes. The hope of humanity lies in our hands, literally. Right in our hands.

We’ve come a long way in this conversation integrating specificity on the neurobiological level, with the removal of the cause of both emotional and physical symptoms, with the implications for the larger picture of humanity. Any other thoughts or reflections you’d like to share?


S: One of my greatest mentors, when he trained his students, would just stand up in front of the classroom and speak. But the depth of sincerity with which he spoke his words allowed the students to truly understand the message.


When I talk about Havening, I hope that people can sense my deep sincerity in having something here that I believe can change the world. And it’s where I come from that I think wins the day, rather than what I say. Because unless you’ve experienced it, or seen it, it’s hard to imagine.


We know that people who experience this or are comfortable enough to share this with other people in a therapeutic manner will find it astonishing and they will within themselves feel a great sense of accomplishment and excitement about how they can help people.


And they will want to share and will continue to share it.    


This excitement cannot be generated by Ron or I.


Ron and I put out the information. Now, people are taking this information and are using it for the benefit of themselves and others and taking initiative and pushing the envelope forward, and they are doing this simply to be part of something that can possibly help humanity and change the world.


I am always grateful that people pick up the mantle and bring it forward and we have some wonderful people out there. They are all over the world.


And sooner or later, hopefully in my lifetime, Havening will become more and more well known.


H: What else is ahead for this Havening movement that is expanding each day and reaching more and more people around the world?


S: Peer reviewed research will be available in 2017, published in well-respected journals. Also in 2017, we are going to be looking at altering our course of approach a little bit.


We’re probably going to be creating two training tracks, one for licensed healthcare professionals and another for the non-healthcare-licensed individuals such as life coaches, teachers, and parents, since the criteria and competencies for using Havening in these different contexts are not always the same.


H: When you were talking about how this is spreading without so much of your initiative, except putting it out there, it reminds me of the Victor Hugo quote “Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” I do feel that this is the time for the idea called Havening to spread and to reach the world.


Thank you so much for your reflections, your comments, your insights, your stories. I’m very proud to be part of the growing Havening community and have been astonished, with what I’ve experienced in my own Havening process, what I’ve observed by other skilled practitioners, including yourself and your brother, and what I’ve experienced with my own clients.


It is clearly a new paradigm. It looks so simple and seems so unusual, just as the introduction of the germ theory or the discovery of some other paradigm that shatters everything before it and says, “Wait here’s a new way to look at this!” Grounded in neuroscience. Grounded in neurobiology. Grounded in a deeper understanding of how the brain processes memory. Grounded in a solid understanding of psychosensory therapy, the use of touch and sensory stimulus to transform the brain.


From this simple set of ideas, within our own hands, we have the capacity to help humanity heal. So, thank you for your important role in that and your continued work in that. It’s an honor to interview you and to be part of the team.


S: Thank you Harry! I wrote a long time ago that one of the greatest gifts I have are the people I meet along the way. It’s truly my pleasure to share these moments with you.


H: Thank you.

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