Mental health and addiction issues are multi-faceted and can be complex to treat. That is why FHE Health offers a range of therapeutic services that can address the root causes and symptoms of these disorders. One of these services is breathwork therapy. It is an innovative holistic treatment that we make available alongside more traditional treatments such as medication, psychotherapy, and other supports. This page will provide a detailed introduction to breathwork therapy, its applications in recovery, what a breathwork session is like, and why we offer it.
What Is Breathwork Therapy?
Breathwork therapy, or “integral breath therapy,” employs specific breathing techniques to help patients safely access and process mental, emotional, or even physical wounds that may be roadblocks to healing and recovery. The breathing used is a controlled, conscious form that is meant to lead the patient into a non-ordinary state of consciousness. From this unique state of consciousness, the patient can still experience their emotions— but from a safe distance that allows them to be an observer of the past.
Breathwork for Recovery
Guided by a certified breathwork therapist, the controlled, circular breathing that is unique to breathwork can support the patient’s therapeutic process by:
• clearing subconscious emotional blockages that may be obstacles to healing and recovery
• releasing stress, tension, and stored trauma
• increasing self-awareness and mindfulness of the present moment
• facilitating mental, emotional, and/or spiritual breakthroughs
• strengthening the mind-body connection
Breathwork for Trauma
At FHE Health, we’ve found breathwork therapy especially effective at helping patients find physical and emotional release from repressed traumas. For many patients with trauma histories, trauma is at the root of a substance abuse problem or a mental illness like PTSD. Often, though, the conscious brain has buried these painful memories and experiences under lock and key in the brain’s subconscious; they are hard for the conscious mind to reach and resolve but can still cause significant symptoms.
This experience is not uncommon among trauma survivors. No matter how hard the conscious brain tries to forget a traumatic event, the body still remembers and “keeps the score,” in the words of trauma expert Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, MD. He and other researchers have studied how trauma affects the body and concluded that the long-term effects can be serious.
Breathwork therapy allows the patient to enter a state of consciousness in which traumatic experiences are easier to access and process. That in turn facilitates the emotional and physical release which is key to holistic healing and transformation.
Other Applications for Breathwork Healing
Breathwork therapy has other applications, having been used to treat:
• anger issues
• grief and loss
• chronic pain
• emotional effects of physical illness
In addition to these more therapeutic applications, breathwork therapy has sometimes been used to improve focus and inspire creativity.
Methods of Breathwork Therapy and Breathing to Health
Various methods of conscious connected breathing are associated with improved health outcomes. At FHE Health, our certified breathwork therapist teaches patients how to use an open-mouth form of continuous breathing in and out in a circular motion. This sustained breathing technique can be especially effective at leading the patient into a very relaxed state of consciousness where they can access memories and emotions stored in their subconscious.
What Is a Breathwork Therapy Session Like?
At FHE Health, breathwork therapy takes place in a small group setting. The session begins with patients lying on a yoga mat while our breathwork therapist provides a brief introduction about what will happen next and what to expect. She teaches patients how to breathe in and out in a circular motion, using an open mouth breath.
The next five minutes are spent getting accustomed to this breathing technique and letting the mind slow down and attune itself to the breath. With the continuation of this controlled breathing, many patients begin to enter a state where their subconscious emotions surface and find expression. Some patients may laugh; others may cry. The exercise of breathing in this specific way enables them to access these emotions but from a safe distance and with the supervision of a certified breathwork therapist. Such breakthroughs typically are not accessible via traditional therapy like cognitive-behavioral therapy and can supplement the work that a patient may be doing with their primary therapist.
Why We Offer Breathwork Therapy
Breathwork therapy fulfills an important and unique role in the healing process, by offering distinctive therapeutic benefits to those in recovery from substance abuse and other mental health disorders. It has helped many patients face and resolve their traumas and re-integrate these experiences as part of a healthier person (mind, body, and spirit). The fact that this holistic treatment has wider application than trauma is just one more reason we at FHE Health are honored to be able to offer this whole-person intervention to our patients.
Interested in learning more about how breathwork therapy might help you? Contact our dedicated team of counselors to schedule a free consultation.