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.

Open Up has since the start in 2015 guided thousands of people in often life-changing journeys. The inner healing intelligence of the body that is worked with, reaches people far beyond cognitive therapy, even after one session and has proven to create a huge healing potential. 

In collaboration with psychologist Frederique Bicker, Open Up will defy an investigation of breath work in a psychotherapy meta-analysis, with an emphasis on body psychotherapy, a combination of cognitive therapy with breath therapy to find common themes that support and enhance a healing process.


We have been closely working together with Frederique since 2018, reviewing the potential of bridging psychotherapy with breathwork in a holistic approach.

The core of our fascination and interest in this research is the idea that breath work and psychotherapy are currently offered separately as therapy. 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.

The research question is, does a combination therapy have any significance in the increase of our well-being, and decrease of symptoms, and how does this lead to transformation? 

We want to investigate if a combination therapy is more efficient than just breath work or psychotherapeutic therapy. This research will help articulate its complexity, and relationship to help us better understand the healing mechanisms underlying personal transformation.​​ 

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 breath work assistants. 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 need to 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 prefer to 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. All participants must participate in at least 15 combination sessions (breath work and psychotherapy). Several will participate in less than desired, but here we are interested in people who have attended at least 15 sessions.

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our mission 


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. 


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 scientific research 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 new insights and transformative practices at the frontiers of psycho-somatic therapy that can create lasting healing and growth.

This in-depth clinical case 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.



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


The trial is currently in progress and have started in November 2020 and consist of individual combined therapy of 3,5 hours per participant in a bi-monthly session for which 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.


In the first part, Frederique Bicker works privately on the cognitive aspect. Katrien will only be present in the integration for a shared reflection. Katrien will then continue to guide the participant privately in a 2 hour breathwork journey. The reflection and interview on the whole experience is facilitated by ​Frederique and Katrien. 


Our individual trials 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 Group trials will start in 2021 for which you can apply soon.

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. 



Frederique Bicker - Psychologist / Initiator
Katrien Franken - Founder / Initiator
Christa Verhart - Medical Support
Scientific Researchers
Breathwork Assistants
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Christa Verhart - Medical Support