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Scientific Breathwork Research 


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. 

In our work 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 breathwork and psychotherapy are currently offered separately as therapy.


Since 2015, founder Katrien Franken of Open Up is introducing psychological practices in combination with breathwork where the inner healing intelligence of the body that is worked with, reaches far beyond only cognitive therapy and is showing us a huge healing potential. What could therapy and treatment of mental health look like if breathwork was introduced into psychotherapy, into our education? What can we measure scientifically? And what effect could this have, short and longterm for the process of healing. Open Up is working towards a synchronized body were the mind-body duality can be brought into a new perspective.  

With our interest for different studies we are aiming to investigate breathwork in a (neuro)physiological logical, cognitieve and psychological meta-analysis to measure the effects of breathwork for the future of our education and the future of our health. We want to investigate if a combined therapy can have any significance in the increase of our well-being, and decrease of symptoms of anxiety and depression.


Because breathwork is psychosomatic, and psychotherapy examines our thinking directed towards the experience of life, we are steering towards a modern exploration of consciousness as a catalyst for healing, self-exploration and learning, using and wanting to examine the expertise in these areas. 

In collaboration with a team of volunteering scientific researchers and Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam who are responsible for the scientific aspects of this research, Open Up is developing this study to build a foundation and source of credibility for what is possible in exploring new understandings of human healing potential. 

Open Up is initiating

several studies

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Study 1


The neuro- and physiological

effects of breathwork


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Study 2


The therapeutic potential of breathwork & psychotherapy

Apply to Participate

Study 1

Trial period July / August 2021

Location: VU, Medical Faculty building, Amsterdam


Participation for this study is closed.

This study focusses on the physical and neurophysiological effects of breathwork, and will be conducted at VU Medical Faculty in Amsterdam. Your participation involves one individual session that will last approximately 2,5 hours, including the preparation with EEG equipment. We only accept people with the following basic requirements: 

you are in good health 

the contra-indications don't apply to you

your age is between 20-35

Application and Research Process

Step 1
Fill in the Application

Step 2
Review of Application

Step 3
Breath work Session

Step 4

Apply only if you are in good health, and between 20 - 35 years old, and available for one session. If you want to take part in our study you must fill out the Application form.

We might need to arrange a call for further details about your application. All being well, you will receive approval and further information details to prepare you for your participation.

We'll welcome you at the VU for the study. The session will take approximately 2,5 hours. The scientific aspect of the study is conducted by our collaborating researchers. You can take part in this study free of costs. We however don't cover any costs for travel or otherwise. 

Your integration process happens in the session and can continue after. Our team will be available for individual check-ins & support.



Treatment room at VU Amsterdam

Individual Trial & Control Groups

Each participant will be checked for approval, 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 our studies. All participants are requested to fill in questionnaires prior and after the session. Full support will be given throughout to help participants prepare, receive and integrate their experience.

Mission Open Up

changing healthcare and education

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 profound scientific studies 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.

Our in-depth studies will be presented to better understand and appreciate how breathwork works, and why it​ can be a bridge to psychotherapy and education. 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 healing depression and anxiety, and of learning to learn. With positive results we aim to start training the Open Up method, and introduce it into healthcare and to students, universities and schools.

Support Our Work

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 recognized data collected for our type of research remains rare. We relish the important part that the findings from both studies can play in advancing global recognition of the growing demand for safe and transformative guidance and therapy. Open Up's focus on clinical research helps us understand how to harness the transformative power of breathwork, so that we can offer tailored transformative journeys to people seeking to make formative life-changes. 



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.


Crafting Transformation


Our priority for safety in conducting this study is formed through the expertise of the growing team of scientific researchers. 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.


Domains Of Interest


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.” 

Being / Becoming

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?