Episode 106 What Is Havening & How It Can Help Your Clients: Interview with Kristin Krippa

Mar 8, 2023

What is Havening? Can alternative healing modalities decrease anxiety and trauma response?

MEET Kristin Krippa

Kristin has been a Licensed Psychological Associate for 31 years. She is intensively trained in Sandtray therapy and is one of 8 clinicians in the world providing the ICST certification training.

She is a certified Havening Practitioner and trained in animal-assisted play therapy, and is intensively trained in play therapy.

Find out more at Krippa Family Psychological & Wellness Services and connect with Kristin on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook

Sandtray Training


  • What is Havening? 2:46
  • The importance of being trauma-informed when using any kind of touch therapy in your practice 8:31
  • What are the risks of havening? 13:10

What Is Havening?

  • Using havening for self-care as a therapist
  • Can havening be used successfully used with teenagers
  • The benefits of havening with both teens and parents
  • The importance of permission in touch therapy

The Importance Of Being Trauma-Informed When Using Any Kind Of Touch Therapy In Your Practice

  • Finding havening alternatives for patients with trauma
  • Understanding informed consent with havening
  • Technique vs. treatment in therapy
  • Understanding your client’s needs before using the havening technique

What Are The Risks Of Havening?

  • Knowing your client’s trauma history before havening
  • Becoming a certified havening practitioner
  • What is going on in the body when applying a havening technique?
  • A havening walk-through

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Resources Mentioned And Useful Links:

Find out more at Krippa Family Psychological & Wellness Services and connect with Kristin on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook

Sandtray Training


Chris McDonald: Do you know the power of psychos sensory modalities in therapy? The alternative healing modality called havening, uses touch body movement, visualization, and distraction with amazing results with decreasing trauma response and anxiety. In today's episode, we'll explore the astonishing benefits from this modality, and you'll get hands on practice, which you will feel the benefits from.

Right. This is Holistic Counseling, the podcast for mental health therapists who want to deepen their knowledge of holistic modalities and build their practice with confidence. I'm your host, Chris McDonald, licensed therapist. I am so glad you're here for the journey.

Welcome to today's episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast. I've been really curious to explore the Havening techniques for a long time, but I'm so glad you're here with me for the journey. Today's guest is Kristen Crip, a licensed psychological associate and a certified havening practitioner. A fun fact about Kristen, she loves to travel garden and nurture her animals.

Welcome to the podcast, Kristen.

Kristin Krippa: Hi Chris. Thanks for having me. Thanks for asking me to be on the podcast.

Chris McDonald: Can you tell my listeners more about yourself and your.

Kristin Krippa: Sure. So I'm, as you said, I'm licensed psychological associate. I am in my 31st year as a psychologist in North Carolina. I work primarily with children and teens, but I do see adults as well.

And I am intensively trained in play therapy and animal assisted play therapy and San tray therapy as well as. , as you said, a certified havening practitioner. We're in a group practice and an intense outpatient program, so you got a whole

Chris McDonald: empire. You're building , .

Kristin Krippa: We're working on it.

Chris McDonald: Yeah. So I know you said travel is your number one thing, it sounds like.

Kristin Krippa: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. I, I, I love to travel. I've got a teenager, so it's easier for her to travel with us now than when she was little. We have spent a great deal of time this year, particularly exploring the

Chris McDonald: world. Where's the last place you

Kristin Krippa: went? So we just came back from Switzerland, Austria, and then we spent a few days in Germany.

Unfortunately, I kind of missed out on Germany since I came down with Covid while I was there. Oh

Chris McDonald: no. Oh gosh. I loved your pictures.

Kristin Krippa: I try to post them for the people who wanna know where I am, and they're usually blurry because as I said in one of my posts, traveling with a teenager, , that's so. Always running by things going

Chris McDonald: click, click

I love it. Oh, that's great. So what is Havening? Can we start from the beginning with that? Sure.

Kristin Krippa: So Havening is a modality that clinicians can use, but also other practitioners because it's been opened up to people other than therapists to use. As long as you're not working with people who have significant amounts of trauma in their background, but it employ.

Physical touch as well as distraction techniques to help the client either overcome a trauma or maybe we can use it for phobias fears as well as self-improvement.

Chris McDonald: So is this a good modality for therapist to use for self-care

Kristin Krippa: as well? , it's an excellent modality for therapists to use for self-care and can also teach your family members and use it with them.

I've definitely used it with my own, my own teenager, and when I use it with clients, I often will ask, if I'm working with a teenager, I'll ask them to teach their family so that they can all participate in using the same technique.

Chris McDonald: In your experience, have teenagers been open to it?

Kristin Krippa: Yeah, no, teenagers are often interested in it because it is a little bit different, and when I explained to 'em what it's used for, they can understand pretty quickly that it helps them get better faster.

So that we are able to move into trying something new and different. I often incorporate if working with children and teens, I'll incorporate their parents if they, if their mom comes with them or their dad, I can ask them to participate in. One of the things that I've seen that's been really beautiful in this process for me is watching the parent while they are applying the haven in touch to their child or teen, and they're helping with the healing process.

and often with teens, we go through a phase with our teenagers that they don't really want the hugs and the snuggles that they parents are used to when they were younger. And so now that here's this opportunity to provide this really healing touch, and often whatever the traumatic experience may have been for the teenager, the parent has the secondary trauma that they're dealing with, knowing that their child or teen is struggling.

And so when they're part of the healing process very directly, they get a secondary benefit. That's beautiful.

Chris McDonald: I'm sure it's amazing for you to witness that too,

Kristin Krippa: to watch the mom's faces cuz it's often the moms that will do the, the havening with their young person to watch their face when they are applying the touch to their child and to see the child relax.

and to be a part of the process in a way that other modalities don't allow me to incorporate them, and their faces just melt. They start out being really tense because it's a difficult topic perhaps. Or they have their own worries and then they just. Soften and you see them really engaged in the process and it's, I think it's a beautiful moment for both of them, for the receiver of the treatment and the one giving that healing touch.

It's just really beautiful. It's been something that I didn't anticipate because we didn't, in our training, talk a lot about having someone else apply the. And it was something that I came up with for my own level of comfort, honestly. But now I incorporate the parents very deliberately for this purpose.


Chris McDonald: can see how that could be very healing as teenagers are often don't touch me , and to actually have them but this, to do this modality that's really calming for them is probably great for both. Like you said, the parent and the.

Kristin Krippa: Yeah, for sure. It's been just a, a transformative process for the families when they participate in it and also for me to see it.

It, it's really just a beautiful process. So I know you

Chris McDonald: mentioned there's touch involved, so is this where a therapist touched the client? Can you talk about how that works

Kristin Krippa: and. Sure, sure. Well, either therapists don't like to touch their clients. I always, I always preface that I

Chris McDonald: can feel the cringes right now from listeners

Kristin Krippa: I'm sure they do. I always ask permission. I explain it to the client. I have them. I demonstrate the touch for them and they do it for themselves, and I will ask if they want me. apply the touch for them, or if they want to try it themselves. I, I don't have a percentage of how many people choose to have me apply it versus, um, themselves.

You know, it's not an insignificant number of people that I'll say, yeah, I'd be happy to have you to do this. I, I do try to incorporate. A partner if possible. I've had, I've had couples come in together, so I, that's a good idea. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. I will have the other person in the partnership come in to apply the touch, if that seems like it might be helpful depending on what's going on in the family.


Chris McDonald: seems like giving them the options is, is really being trauma informed too.

Kristin Krippa: Yeah, and I always ask my clients, oftentimes the people who have asked me to apply the church are people that I've. Like significant long-term relationships with, and so either we've been seeing each other for a very long time, or they knew me when they were teenagers and now they've come back to me as adults.

And those are the folks who have been really open to having me apply the touch. , yeah.

Chris McDonald: Mm-hmm. . So what about really traumatized clients who don't wanna touch themselves? Or have you touched them? Can you still do this technique?

Kristin Krippa: We can. What we would do in that case is a couple different things. One of the things I've done is I have a therapy doc and I will ask if it was okay for them to apply the touch to our therapy therapy.

All of that also have some really fuzzy pillows that, um, are like, they're, they're wool and they're free. And also I've asked folks to bring in a stuffed animal or if they want to, if that particular one, and they will haven on those stuffed animals. So there are options for folks that don't enjoy physical.

or there might not be ready for it yet. Yeah. And then we kinda purchase. Mm-hmm. .

Chris McDonald: Well, I do a lot of self-soothing with physical touch on themselves, but yeah, some people, they're just not there. And that's okay. And I love how you have different options though. .

Kristin Krippa: Absolutely. Yeah. I try to make sure when I have someone come in that all of those options are on the couch, so that it's a pretty smooth transition so that I can ask them if they want to try something else.

Chris McDonald: Is that something you have to have an informed consent to? We do for the touch,

Kristin Krippa: yeah. Yeah, we have an informed consent that they sign if, if I'm going to be applying the touch. In particular, havening has a informed consent form though. Oh, okay.

Chris McDonald: Yeah, and I think that's just clear for therapists listening that any kind of modality where there's physical touch involved, it's really important to have that in your informed consent.

Kristin Krippa: Absolutely wouldn't do it without

Chris McDonald: it. Yeah, , we don't wanna do that. And especially if you, I know a lot that like yoga of the yoga techniques, of course we have to have that in there as well. Cuz any kind of movement modality, it's so important. Protect yourself, but then making sure they understand what they're getting into

Kristin Krippa: with that.

Right, right. And the one thing, havening is really the, the light, the certification body is really clear on. So this is a modality. And so it's not a treatment technique, it's a modality. So they want to, to make sure that it's a technique versus a treatment, if that makes sense. What's the differe? So I think that they are clear that there's still research to be done that hasn't been done on it.

So they separate it out from something that has got the research to back it up, and so they separate it out as a technique versus a treatment, which also allows non-licensed professionals to use Havening as long as they are trained and certified. Okay, and what are your thoughts on that? I think as long as the person has been through the certification process, which is pretty, it's not a simple process, it's not a one weekend deal, and they are clear on who they have to refer out.

I think that it can be quite useful. I've met people who are not treatment providers, but they use Havening and they seem to do. Very well. And they also know when to refer someone out. We, it's, it's a big part of our training of when do you refer someone out because not everybody's gonna come in and say, Hey, I have this trauma history.

Chris McDonald: Exactly. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. And that, that's always a, a cautionary tale too, cuz I've worked with therapists who've seen life coaches and sometimes they don't stay in their lane, shall we say. And I've had one that was telling me about how they were really digging deep into their childhood trauma. And that's just, Going out of your scope of practice if you're not a licensed clinician.

So I think that's just the, that's always where I'm a little leery is like, oh, they, I hope that people are really being careful with this. And cuz there could be harm from people that aren't trained in

Kristin Krippa: therapy. Right. And and a big part of our training was the necessity chief. Go in and get that history before you ever start havening so that you can be aware of whether, if you're not a licensed clinician, whether or not this is a client that you should be taking.

You know, the people I've met when I was doing my training, they seem to have a very clear picture of understanding the challenges of havening and not wanting to be in a situation where they may bring things up because it's one of. Side effects, uh, with all trauma treatment is when we remove a particular trauma response.

It may have been holding back something else, and there may be traumas that we're not aware of. We need to be prepared for that and make sure that that client has the resources available to take care of themselves. If anything were to happen between sessions or after a havening session.

Chris McDonald: I guess, what are the risks with Havening?

Is there some dangers involved for client?

Kristin Krippa: I, I think that's part of the issue is if you don't know or the client hasn't disclosed that there's a previous trauma that may not be aware, and when we. Go back and re eliminate this trauma response from something that they thought was a challenge to them.

There may, it may have been holding back memories of traumas that they weren't aware of or they had put thought they had put aside. And so those can come to the forefront and become a challenge for the person if they don't have those resources available. Um, I've definitely had clients come in after havening sessions and say, you know, I'm having a lot more active dreams.

They're not bad. , but they are way more active, and this has never happened before. Those have usually been clients who have very significant trauma histories of multiple traumas over the course of their lifetime. So now I just prepare people. I let them know. , don't be surprised this could happen and this is what we're gonna do about it.


Chris McDonald: Yeah. So we're just being careful with that, making sure that you're properly trained too.

Kristin Krippa: And I would say that no one should practice HAVENING unless they've been certified. It, it's a process that was, um, really helpful and eye-opening. Um, it involves, remember correctly, it's been a while since I did my training, at least 10 case.

That we go in and write up and discuss, and our instructor watches videos and make comments, and I think it was a really important process to go through. I wouldn't just read a book and think that I could do havening. Yeah, you don't

Chris McDonald: wanna just jump into something like this

Kristin Krippa: for sure. That being said, I think we can do it for self-care.

Yeah. And use ing for ourselves to reduce stress, anxiety. I, I think that that's definitely something that we can use this technique for and not be

Chris McDonald: worried about. So would you say that the techniques are easy to. . I would say

Kristin Krippa: the technique itself, the very bare bones, is the nuance and the art of it takes practice because there is definitely a framework that we follow, but there is more to, if you watch a really skilled havening provider, do a havening.

Session with someone. It is very different than the bare bones. This is how you do a d Havening session script, so to speak. Very different. And it, it's really remarkable. There's, um, I don't know if his videos are out, but my trainer has. Shared with us some, you know, videos of him doing some extensive long, he does long sessions and it's really remarkable to watch him weave the information that he's getting from the client and using it while they are doing the havening to.

Disconnect those emotional responses from the, um, original trauma. It's really fascinating to watch On one hand, yes, but it's definitely the, it's the, the art of it I think takes a lot more time.

Chris McDonald: What is the training like? Like how many hours to be certified?

Kristin Krippa: Yeah, so it was the initial training is one weekend, two days, and then you signed up for a six month commitment to meeting.

I believe we met once or twice a week, and we did demonstrations. Case studies. Our trainer showed us demonstrations of him working with clients. And then there is a test that you have to take for the brain chemistry part of Havening. and you have to pass that. And then there is, um, another test you take on ethics when using complimentary medicine techniques.

Chris McDonald: So what is going on in the body when you are doing a havening technique?

Kristin Krippa: Yeah. So the, the basics of it is a really interesting, so the touch. That is applied, increases the delta waves in the brain, which are generally not present when we're awake and are more present when we're asleep. And then on, uh, a, a cut to the chase.

There's some chemical processes that happen. There's, um, yeah, you don't have to go into every detail. . Yeah. Not going here. But on a neurochemical, um, level. The neural pathway gets disconnected from the memory to the trauma response. And so that happens when we start to use the distraction while the person is in this really relaxed, highly delta state, and so the, their neurochemically, the brain pathway changes so that they no longer have the response.

They either won't remember it with the same level of tension that they had, or they won't remember it at all. I had a client who I did havening on a very specific, um, discreet event that was related to them panicking. Every time someone knocked on their door, several weeks went by and they were telling me a story about someone knocking on their door and I was.

Wait a minute, could you tell me that again? And I had to ask them several times and finally I think they thought I had lost my mind cuz I kept asking about this. So someone knocked on your door and then they finally said, oh. I've been waiting for this. I forgot that it was even a problem. Wow. That's amazing.

It is. It is amazing for someone to tell me that they can no longer remember what was bothering them and they, they will say after the Havening session, it's kind of disappearing and then it's gone. Other people remember it, but they just don't have the trauma. As strong. And usually if they still have a response, it is because we have not hit the correct target.

There might have been something prior to the target that we were using that was actually related. And so we go back and we will find that event that may have been related and even on that, and. You know, sometimes it, it happens quickly, but life is not beautiful and peaceful. People are complex. Yeah. Yeah.

And so sometimes it takes us a couple times to really figure out what the related target is, and then it just takes away anything that was related to it. They just won't have a response to anything that elicited that response in them.

Chris McDonald: That's phenomen. . So overall, do you feel like this is more helpful than some other modalities?

I do.

Kristin Krippa: I think that on everything I've learned, in the past 31 years. This is the most powerful technique I've ever used. Wow. And I use it almost every day. You know, at this point in my career, I have a limited caseload. I don't take too many clients. I actually only take clients for havening now and only for very specific reasons.

Usually. Um, I've got a lot of clients that come to me for misophonia, and so I'll see those clients because, The only person around that can do this, so I will use that on them. And then some very clients coming back to me, I'll, I'll see them. But yeah, most powerful technique I've ever learned. By far, and I know from speaking with clients, no offense to the EMDR folks, I've had clients who have had EMDR before and they've come to me for havening and they prefer hands down.

Every single one of 'em has told me they've preferred the havening over the emdr. I don't know that that's gonna be true for every single no EMDR that I'm not saying that, but it's just been a co. That the folks that have sought out Havening have really preferred it. Yeah.

Chris McDonald: I think that EMDR is not for everybody.

Kristin Krippa: Yeah. I, and I think that the feedback I've gotten is this is a little bit more gentle.

Chris McDonald: Yeah, I've heard that too from other Monet. Cuz I have, I do brain spotting and some people that come to me have had EMDR and it's been too, too hard for them.

Kristin Krippa: Right. Because they don't have to, one of the things I love about hey, is we don't have to reprocess the trauma.

We just bring it to the. for less than a minute, and then we move into the havening process and so they, they are very quickly put in a more relaxed state. Nice.

Chris McDonald: So can you walk my listeners through what would a session look like?


Kristin Krippa: So first I would kind of explain Havening to a client and then I would demonstrate for them the Havening touch.

So, Four touches that I show them, I start out by showing them with their hands. So for those folks who are not watching the video, you just take one hand and gently brush the other hand like the palms. So one palm, put your palm up. Yeah, there you go. And nice and slow as you as if you were hitting a bunny.

So it's that kind of pressure and gentleness. And so I have them close your eyes and maybe just take a nice deep breath. Exhale while they get. Put one hand over the other in a nice, gentle stroke. And then after a little bit of time, I will move on to their arms. So we start cross our arms in front of us and we put our hands on our shoulders and move down from our shoulder to our elbow.

And a nice, gentle, again, just like you're petting a bunny. Not too much pressure. , we always do a pressure check. I've been told I use a little bit more pressure than other havening um, practitioners. Some people like that, some people don't. So we, if we're working together and I'm applying the touch, we will work on what the appropriate amount of touch is.

The, as far as pressure. So, so we don't want too

Chris McDonald: much. .

Kristin Krippa: So we don't want, for some people, they want a little bit more pressure. Some people want a little less. Some people really, we need to vary the speed or the pressure during the process, depending on how they are working, through the, the response. And then from our arms, we move up to our face and we do our forehead.

So we just start at the center and move out towards our temples. And again, nice and slow. And gentle. I always ask people close their eyes. One of the things we do with paving is we always work with our eyes closed because we're typically working on something that has happened in the past, and then we move down to the cheeks.

We use our flats of our hands and just go jam. Nice and gentle. After we've done this for a bit and we've gone through all of them, I asked them which one felt most relaxing or calming to them, and so we're gonna start with that area first. So I'm going to then ask them to bring up whatever it may be that they are working on, whether it is a past traumatic event that we've determined is appropriate.

I also ask them if they have any concerns. Or anything bothers them about any types of music or song. Cause we're gonna do some humming. I usually use nursery rhymes and for some people, based on their history, they might have some problems with certain nursery rhymes. So I'll ask them to tell me if there's any that are okay or not.

Okay. And then once we have gotten the traumatic memory pulled, , I'll ask them, give me a SUD score. Zero. It's not a problem. 10. It's the worst imaginable. Once we have a SUS score, ask them to move away from that memory and to start havening, then I'm going to give them some distractions. I may ask them to imagine that they are walking stairs and count to 20 identifying, you know, counting each step as they go.

Once they. Hit that 20th step and they ask them to hum. Maybe twinkle, twinkle little star, and after we're through that, then we are gonna take another suds and get a feed. Typically, people have dropped down about two. Some people will drop down more, but typically it's about two. If we've hit the right memory.

we do something similar. Again, we use, I, I tend to use different distractions each time and different songs. I try to use active things, so if I have a yoga instructor, I will ask them to do yoga poses. Tell me 20 yoga poses. Or Imagine you're swimming 20 laps and. In the humming, have them maybe go to their favorite place and describe it for me as they walk through it.

And we always end with some humming because that stimulates the vagal nerve ends. So that helps with the process as well. So we'd like to use that humming typically after three rounds, person, maybe at a zero. And wow, he. We can move into a different stage of havening if they're not at a zero. Typically, what it looks like is I'll ask them what feeling they're feeling, what's keeping them where they are, and then we'll do something called ational havening, where they will say the word, you know, if they're feeling angry, they would say angry.

Um, over and over again until a new memory, a new thought comes in and they would say that word and then we would keep going until they, they're out of memories. And then typically we move into, try to set some intentions. So we'll move into, it's called Affirmational Havening, where. Will could have come up with something that they might want more of in their life, whether it's peace or happiness or focus or, or confidence.

And then I'll have them repeat some phrases that I say while they continue to haven and then it's, let's say they were wanting more confidence, we shift into the affirmational where I'll say a, a phrase and they'll just say the word. And then we usually finish it up with the outcome havening, where we imagine that they are experiencing whatever it is they're trying to get, that they can see themselves living their lives like that.

And then we move into, Can they feel themselves living their lives with say, more confidence to use that as an example, and then they would typically, most people can bring that to mind and will practice that, and we'll use some affirmations for them to use throughout the week. And they can do some self havening throughout the week.

Just saying those phrases that helps cement things in place where they can start to see themselves in a different light. How long

Chris McDonald: does a session last? It

Kristin Krippa: can last anywhere from 15 minutes. To an hour and a half. Um, oh wow. There are people that do longer sessions. I typically don't for a variety of reasons, but I have definitely had people need a 90 minute session if we're really working hard on an experience that they want to disconnect.

But it can be as quick as 15 minutes. I've had, I've worked with athletes and I'll. I've done a 30 minute session before performance. I had somebody call me from the airport. One time they had an emergency flight and we had not gotten to their fear of flying to their trip to the airport, and so we did a havening session.

It was probably about 20 minutes on the phone. While they were at the airport and about an hour later they sent me a picture over the wing of the plane and they were like, this is the best flight ever. Oh wow.

Chris McDonald: I love it. That's

Kristin Krippa: amazing. Really depends on what's going on and what we are trying to accomplish in each session.

Chris McDonald: Oh, I appreciate you sharing the details of that so listeners can get a better idea of what to expect from this and all the steps involved. What's the best way for listeners to find you and learn more about you?

Kristin Krippa: Probably our website, www.nc

Chris McDonald: psychologist.com. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on the Holistic Counseling Podcast, Kristen.

Thank you, Chris for having me. I appreci. Yeah, this was great, and I hope listeners that you got a lot outta that episode. Are you frustrated with generic intake forms that don't reflect who you are as a holistic counselor? Having great intake forms are an essential part of building a relationship with your clients.

I created my holistic intake forms for therapists just like you. This includes comprehensive intake questions, unique to holistic counseling, including questions with physical issues, mental concerns, and spiritual questions. Go to my website, holistic counseling podcast.com. Slash resources to find the information and download it for 29 95.

And this is Chris McDonald sending each one of you much light in love. Till next time, take care.

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