The power of touch: the effects of havening touch on subjective distress, mood, brain function and psychological health

Sumich, A. ORCID: 0000-0003-4333-8442, Heym, N. ORCID: 0000-0003-2414-8854, Sarkar, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-8338-8500, Burgess, T., French, J., Hatch, L. ORCID: 0000-0002-0386-4926 and Hunter, K. ORCID: 0000-0002-0743-9724, 2022. The power of touch: the effects of havening touch on subjective distress, mood, brain function and psychological health. Psychology and Neuroscience, 15 (4), pp. 332-346. ISSN 1984-3054

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Objective: Havening is a psychosensory therapeutic technique that purportedly harnesses the power of touch to stimulate oxytocin release and facilitate adaptive processing of distressing thoughts/memories. Whilst Havening is used in clinics worldwide, with anecdotal evidence, very few empirical studies exist to support its efficacy or mechanism of action. The current study is the first to investigate the effects of Havening touch on subjective distress, mood, brain function and wellbeing.

Methods: Participants (n=24) underwent a single session of Havening, in response to a self-reported distressing event. Mood and resting-state electroencephalography were assessed prior to, and immediately following, the session. Psychological health was assessed at baseline and two weeks follow-up via an online self-report questionnaire.

Results: There was a greater reduction in subjective units of distress during sessions that included Havening Touch (H+) than sessions that did not include Havening touch (H-). EEG results showed an increase in beta and reduction in gamma activity in H+. Both groups showed reduction in negative mood states immediately following the session and better psychological health at follow-up.

Conclusions: Findings suggest both touch and non-touch components of the intervention have therapeutic potential, and that Havening Touch may accelerate a reduction in distress during a single Havening session.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Psychology and Neuroscience
Creators: Sumich, A., Heym, N., Sarkar, M., Burgess, T., French, J., Hatch, L. and Hunter, K.
Publisher: American Psychological Association
Date: December 2022
Volume: 15
Number: 4
ISSN: 1984-3054
Rights: ©American Psychological Association, 2022. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. The final article is available, upon publication, at:
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 28 Feb 2022 09:17
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2023 10:20

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