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Founder, Katrien Franken

Katrien Franken is a multiple award-winning artist/photographer, facilitator, philanthropist, post-activist, social entrepreneur, as well as founder of Open Up, based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Through her organization Open Up, founded in 2015, she challenges and supports humans to open up in consciousness for transformative change - socially and culturally. Building practice that can provide holistic solutions to global problems.


Designing, researching and developing methodologies and approaches that leverage the psychosocial, experiential and educational potential of breathing. Going to the source of complexities with individuals and organizations to discover new places of power and responsivity that help shift/shape new realities, new cultures.

She started life in generic network engineering, and soon got fascinated by the potential of human networks and became increasingly engaged and curious about with the inner dimensions of change and healing. Katrien works across multi-disciplinary projects, and with organizations, schools, executive leaders, artists, politicians, policy-makers, refugee youth, and in purpose driven networks. She is an experienced facilitator and has guided individual and group experiences for thousands of people around the world, both in person and online.

Her work is an expression of assembled studies, longings, learnings, initiatives, collaborations, experiments and experience of twenty years at the edges of our evolutionary growth. The many dimensions form part of her research into what she coins "Alive Learning education". She's calling for collaborations across nations, sectors and generations where she is weaving visions of the possible for systems change through inner systems learning. She co-creates with passionate humans, committed to Being the change.




Open Up is created as a significant force for good.


Hi, i'm Katrien and I actively create and participate in opportunities for true impact and healing in the world. Opening innovative possibilities to improve the inner health of humans, and inspire each other to build a future of conscious connected action.
I consider myself part innovator, part empowerer, part activists, part therapist, part research inquirer. I'm inspired to include a breathing philosophy and practice that investigates what respiration means in a complex changing world and society. My work explores the question “How can we open up in consciousness, so we may improve our interaction with each other and with the world?” 

Open Up - Assistant Training_edited_edit

In for-profit and non-profit arenas i'm creating avenues for collaborative action. In 2020 I have founded two independent philanthropy initiatives which deeply invest and aim to make visible what's possible in exploring new understandings of human healing potential and growth. I am part of the faculty of THNK School for Creative Leadership, and mentor, advise and coach executive stewards of all ages with their inner transition and transformation. I'm a Holistic Counsellor and trained as a therapist in trauma and tension release, accredited by SIAF and approved by the CRKBO by the Dutch government and within the European Union guidelines for quality vocational education. In 2020 she was certified as a Warm Data Lab host by Nora Bateson of the International Bateson Instituteand helps create new ways of shifting perception of interdependency. I am returning lead breathwork facilitator at the Interdisciplinary Conference for Psychedelic Research (ICPR), and am introducing Breathwork for/as Psychedelic Therapy at legal psilocybin retreats in the Netherlands.



philanthropy work

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​Open Up is developing methodologies for inner growth, empowerment and healing for youth in refugee settlements. A breathwork and inner work initiative from Katrien Franken which was launched in March 2021 in Nakivale Refugee Settlement; one of the largest camps in the world and home to 138.000 refugees.  

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What can breathwork offer to the mental health crisis of youth, and open up a radical systems change to reduce the waiting lists, and improve the healing and development of youth through conscious breathwork. Open Up is investing and developing the science in collaboration with Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam and a team of scientific researchers who voluntarily contribute to our mission.

Vik Muniz, Fragment in Four Dimensions (Blue and Green), 2017 and Five Rips, 2018_edited.j


Katrien was introduced to conscious connected breathwork in 2004 which completely changed her perception on life. She realized that using this modality produced an increasing sense of wellbeing, cultivating the exceptional. Whenever she encountered presence, she experienced a completeness of being while becoming more open, experiencing effortless peace, explosive insights and profound, awakened relaxation. This alive learning entwined the journey of inner and outer learning, and eventually healing. "If we truly start to notice that nothing is more important than breathing, it would challenge us with new ways and tasks of thinking and of learning". A continuous search for “how” to live — the “how” also is the very nature of inspiration.

With a history of cancer, and "being in recovery", responsible for her own well-being, Katrien was introduced to re-discover her response and ability to engage with life. Her cancer affected her whole being, and all layers of existence. She journeyed to a number of places with illness and had to address it on all levels. This experience;  a falling into death opened up a transformative alive' learning. This ecological awakening, together with a deep interest in the evolution of consciousness led to the birth of Open Up.

​With Open Up she hopes to support deeply meaningful changes in people's lives, and encourages an educational and experiential approach in order to facilitate the exchange of ideas and discoveries for mutual learning, growth and enrichment. To push gently into our edges, soften and open to our strength and vulnerability, delight in the joy and freedom in our authenticity – and come home, individually and together to our intimate belonging. Ultimately the wholeness she seeks is in the creation of our connected wisdom.

Open Up is founded in 2015, community focussed and always heart–led, challenging and supporting new ways of thinking, sensing, doing and being.


Things that have guided Katrien for the past 20 years:

  • I am curious about the confluence between mysterie and knowledge, openness and growth, longing and belonging, relation and connection, and the "space in between"

  • I deeply listen and through that offer questions that open to the source of the issue where human complexity can be unravelled in quest for depth, meaning and healing

  • My work is non-linear and experiments are central in everything i do. Nothing is fixed or final 

  • I value experience as the highest good. Seeing's believing, but feeling's the truth

  • I work with what is most alive to come alive, because that is often where life is

  • Bridge-building between worlds (e.g. inner work, psychology, cognitive science, the arts, theatre)

  • I work with the inner dimension of change and healing, 

  • I weave visions for the possible, uncovering and discovering stories to re-store, re-imagine and expand perception of the interrelationality

  • Building praxis for embodied action

  • The appetite for time-bound experiments, curiosity, magic, imagination and mutual enrichment. 


Methods and teachings Katrien is trained and/or certified in:​

  • 20 years of buddhist practice and meditation

  • Holotropic Breathwork as created by Stanislav Grof (ongoing since 2016)​

  • Certified level 3/4 BioDynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release by Giten Tonkov

  • Breathwork based on the work of Wilhelm Reich and Alexander Lowen

  • Certified Warm Data Lab host by Nora Bateson of the International Bateson Institute

  • Certified Holistic Counsellor by Rafia Morgan and Turiya Hanover (School For Essential Counseling and SIAF) including The Enneagram personality typology, Essence work - the Lataif

  • Certified Yin Yoga teacher (200 hrs by Anat Geiger through Yoga Alliance)​​​

  • Trained in Client Centered Therapy based on the work of Carl Rogers

  • Trained in The Diamond Approach - A.H. Almaas

  • Trained in Somatic Experiencing (Peter Levine)

  • Trained in Emergent Dialogue as created by Elisabeth Debold and Thomas Steiniger

  • TRE (Level 1) - Tension and Trauma Release Exercise of David Berceli

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