The Therapeutic Potential Of Breath work and Psychotherapy:

A Combined Therapy  


The use of conscious breathing exercises for physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual healing has a long and widely varied history, but little work has been done to see if these practices can be brought into a coherent and unified form that contributes to the field of body psychotherapy. Conventional psychology has for too long reduced us to our lowest common denominators. Much of the spiritual depth, strength, and inspiration that we cherish at the core of our lives has been written off by psychologists who primarily focus on behaviour and cognition.

We have become increasingly interested in the inner dimensions of change and healing in breathwork experiences, especially at the intersection of psychotherapy, neuroscience and spirituality.

The core of our fascination and interest is in the idea that breath work and psychotherapy are currently offered separately as therapy. Since 2015, we are introducing deep psychological practices in conjunction with breathwork and were able to study the effects more deeply. We have guided thousands of people who's inner healing intelligence of the body that is worked with, reached far beyond only cognitive therapy and has proven to create a huge healing potential. Something that we now want to scientifically measure.

Open Up will defy this investigation of breath work in a psychotherapy meta-analysis and is measuring if a combined therapy can have any significance in the increase of our well-being, and decrease of symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Because breath work is psychosomatic, and psychotherapy examines our thinking, directed towards the experience of life, we are steering towards a modern exploration of consciousness as a powerful catalyst for healing and self-exploration, using the expertise in both areas. This research will help articulate its complexity, and relationship to help us better understand the healing mechanisms underlying personal transformation.​​

The Scientific Research project is a foundation and source of credibility for what is possible in exploring new understandings of human healing potential.

"The love of complexity without reductionism makes art; the love of complexity with reductionism makes science." – E.O. Wilson


One of our goals at Open Up is to contribute to research about the efficacy of breathwork with psychotherapy facilitating optimal body, mind, and spiritual wellbeing. Our mission is to conduct a profound scientific study that can lay a solid foundation to bring more knowledge to the healing aspects of ones experience, and to measure the results. We inspire to open to novel insights and transformative practices at the frontiers of psycho-somatic therapy that can create lasting healing and growth.

This in-depth study will be presented to better understand and appreciate how breathwork can be a bridge to psychotherapy. We want to introduce a new and more efficient way for long-term recovery by conducting a study that gives us insight and possibilities for much more powerful, experiential and accelerated methods of self-healing.

With positive results we aim to start training psychotherapists with the Open Up method, and introduce it into healthcare.

Crafting Transformation

Our priority for safety in conducting this study is formed through the expertise of the growing team of medical professionals, scientific researchers and professors. We inspire to lay the ground for coordinating wider research territories and methods that can produce quantitative analysis of the experience that participants have at the Open Up sessions.

Research questions may include the following. 1. Will the experiences of the participants on a physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual level be felt or experienced as transformative and/or healing? Data for this question will be collected by sharing their personal journey, through using people's self-assessments and interviews. 2. Have participants observed life changes as a result of their combination therapy sessions and, if so, will these changes be consistent over 6 months? We will be collecting data with the help or under full supervision of the scientific and medical team. 3. How do they express the essence of their experience in images, symbols, words or metaphors, and what insights from that are useful in their daily life? Data for this question will be collected through interviews and questionnaires.  



We are pioneering therapeutic breathwork through high-quality research and education, but we can’t do it without you. Your gift will fund the development of this research and will help us to create innovative therapies for those that need it most.

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Contribute to this Study 

We are on the cusp of a new era of understanding breathwork as therapy. While the proliferation of studies on breathwork is increasing by legends such as Stanislav Grof and Wim Hof, scientifically recognised data collected for our type of research remains rare. We relish the important part that the findings from this study can play in advancing global recognition of the growing demand for safe and transformative guidance and therapy. Our focus on clinical research helps us understand how to harness the transformative power of breathwork to cognitive therapy, so that we can offer tailored transformative journeys to people seeking to make formative life-changes. 



for studying the transformational effects

1. Thinking/Understanding


2. Experiencing/Feeling


3. Being / Becoming


What is the physiological basis for the transformational effects of the combined therapy? Psychotherapy intensively and extensively examines a person's psychological history, helping to bring more understanding and insight to the what and why of behavioral patterns, coping and soothing mechanisms and preparing someone within safety and care to become open to meet the body's intelligence.

What is the neurophysiological basis for the transformational effects of the combined therapy through feeling and experiencing oneself from a place of safety and responsibility. A fixed mindset is governed by fear. Within each of us are two opposing forces: one pulls us to safety and the other propels us toward growth. As Maslow articulated, “when the delight of growth is greater than the anxiety of safety, we choose growth.” 

Exploring the release of memory in the body on a cellular level and neutralising the body's response to fear where one's perception starts to change. In deep breathwork different phenomena of experiencing oneself become part of the healing process. How can these transpersonal and non-ordinary states influence the healing mechanism of the body?

Individual Trial and Control Groups


We have started in November 2020 and will be conducting psychotherapy with two groups of each 31 participants The first group of people will only receive cognitive therapy which consists of 5 individual sessions. The second group of people will undertake psychotherapy ( 1 hour) and breathwork (2 hours). All participants are requested to fill in questionnaires prior and after the trial and in between the sessions. Full support will be given throughout to help participants prepare, receive and integrate their experience.


Our study cases currently take place in a luxurious apartment on the Sophialaan in Amsterdam that has the perfect settings that are producing the current groundswell of scientific research into the combined therapy. In designing the sessions we will draw extensively on the study protocols that underpin academic research. The trial will start in 2021. 

We will be using the data collected to track any changes in participants’ sense of wellbeing that occur during and result from the experience. By combining breathwork with other practices such as inquiry, meditation, bodywork sound, and measuring outcomes for well being, we will build a database of an optimal mind-body approach to personal transformation. 

Each participant is medically checked, prepared, and supervised. People with contra-indications: glaucoma, retinal detachment, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease (including heart attacks, angina, and high blood pressure), aneurysm, communicable or infectious diseases, seizure disorders, strong medication, severe mental illness, recent significant surgery or injuries, and pregnancy cannot take part in this study.



Meet our Scientific Researchers team
Katrien Franken - Founder / Initiator
Hersencentrum Amsterdam
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© Open Up 2021