The Havening Techniques® : Putting the Decade of the Brain to Work in Mental Health Treatment

Dr. Kate Truitt & Associates, Ph.D., M.B.A., M.A. on Oct 11, 2018 in Treatment Orientation

Six months ago a young woman left me a voicemail reporting she had been assaulted on her way to work. She described the gun, being “man-handled”, her personal property stolen, and living in fear that the assailant would come to her house – he had her driver’s license. She reported that in the 4 months after the assault she had descended into deeper and deeper levels of panic and anxiety, experienced intrusive thoughts daily, was fearful to go anywhere without pepper spray in hand, and experienced nightmares every night. She stated her Cardiologist had given her my name because her stress levels were through the roof. Her blood pressure so elevated he was significantly concerned about the health of her heart as she had already experienced a cardiac event in
her late 20s.

When I returned the call she promptly picked up and sounded short of breath. Through her gasps she rasped “I had put you in my phone and didn’t want to miss the call. I feel like I’m dying” It was evident she was actually in the midst of one of those panic attacks she had described in the voicemail. I quickly instructed her to stroke her hands, her arms and her face in a specific manner and requested that she start humming “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. I know she thought I must be crazy but she did what I requested anyway. Within two minutes, or the equivalent of one round of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and one round of the “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” she was calm and able to have a conversation with me. She was also flabbergasted. This, I told her, is the Havening Techniques®.

We had two sessions total. Our first session involved focused reprocessing on the assault. The second was scheduled as a follow up to address any remaining activation points regarding the assault. Upon arrival at the second session she, again flabbergasted, reported a complete cessation in her prior symptoms of PTSD and panic. The second session was spent reprocessing the trauma of the cardiac event she experienced in her late 20s. A quick follow up call to her cardiologist found her blood pressure was back to a respectable 110/70 and she passed her Nuclear Stress Test with flying colors. This, I'm excited to share with you, is the Havening Techniques.

I believe we are witnessing a revolution in mental health treatment. The “Decade of the Brain” has transformed our understanding of what is going on inside our own minds. We now know it is the lateral nucleus of the amygdala that encodes traumatic memories in conjunction with other nuclei in the amygdala. We now know that it is glutamate (specifically an AMPA receptor) that acts as the glue on those neurons in the lateral nucleus’ synaptic cleft and keeps those traumatically encoded neurons active permanently. We also know now that what was once thought as permanent encoding in the amygdala is no longer so. We now have the ability to proactively engage and heal the amygdala.

In the early 2000's two brothers in New York City began to explore trauma as it is encoded in the amygdala. Their intensive explorations identified the root electrochemical processes driving the maintenance of these activated neurons in the amygdala and how to deactivate them. After almost 13 years of intensive research these two brothers, Drs. Ronald and Steven Ruden, launched their first training in the Amygdala Depotentiation Techniques (aka The Havening Techniques). These techniques provide a vital adjunctive tool to the psychotherapy process as they finally allow us to engage targeted interventions in the neurons that have encoded and are maintaining traumatically encoded memories and resulting in a limbic system hijack in the presence of certain stimuli or, for some of our clients, permanent limbic system activation. The resulting symptoms of the brain hijack? Anxiety, depression, phobias, hypertension, pain, inflammation, panic, PTSD, C-PTSD, and so much more.

In over a decade as a trauma and stress-related disorder specialist who has focused specifically on the neuroscience and psychophysiology of treating Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Complex-PTSD, and other amygdala based disorders, I have never seen anything as powerful and as positively impactful as the Havening Techniques. This is truly a revolution allowing us to effectively incorporate the data from neuroscience into the development of effective and efficient mechanisms for healing of the limbic system. Over the coming months I am honored to have the opportunity to share these techniques with you. It’s time for better living through neuroscience.

Dr. Kate Truitt & Associates is a Clinical Psychologist in Pasadena, CA.

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