2023 – An Inflection Point in Breathwork’s Evolution – Why Standards and Ethics Matter

2023 – An Inflection Point in Breathwork’s Evolution – Why Standards and Ethics Matter

Breathwork has evolved and grown since the early days of its closest cousin, Rebirthing, was initiated by Leonard Orr in the 1970s.  Orr and his predecessors in psychological circles, Otto Rank (1920s), and Wilhelm Reich(1950s), acknowledged that birth represents the first trauma we experience as we begin our human life, and that the breath is a profound resource for healing that trauma.


Since the 1970s, Breathwork has grown and evolved. It has changed its name from Rebirthing and has become recognized as a breathing technique that in addition to healing birth trauma, also offers a powerful approach to self-exploration, healing and transformation. It releases entrenched patterns of emotional dysfunction and beliefs, frees up tension, anxiety and stress, and blasts through the blocks that prohibit achieving a high level of self-mastery in life. The breath has been recognized for its multi-level intelligence and its innate ability to connect to the consciousness of body, mind, emotions and spirit.   


Over its evolution, Breathwork has advanced and become more well-known and respected as a profound healing process. With its exponential growth, here is a corresponding need for standardization of Breathwork protocols and techniques to assure the work maintains its highest level of integrity and stays aligned with the purest tenets of the technique.


Not only must Breathwork acknowledge the client’s complexity of emotions, vulnerability and need for safety but it must also equip facilitators with adequate and quality training and tools, so they have the skills to be adept professionals who know how to competently guide the client’s process while also contributing and upholding Breathwork’s values and principles.  As more people engage the Breathwork process (and there are multiple thousands around the globe who do), those who facilitate their sessions must undergo rigorous training so that they have the tools and psychotherapeutic knowledge to assure that Breathwork is safe, ethical and in integrity for every client.


Ethical behavior with clients is the pivotal value that allows the trust-building process, creates a solid reputation for the Breathworker and for the Breathwork organizations.


Breathwork Training Standards, Ethics and Integrity


Such organizations as Global Professional Breathwork Alliance (GPBA) and Australian Breathwork Association (ABA) have worked diligently to assure that Breathwork training is robust, broad-spectrum and complete. Collectively, these organizations constitute the core associations who set the standards in order assure the purity and integrity of Breathwork training processes.


No longer can Breathwork facilitators be considered ‘trained Breathworkers’ by simply attending five-day courses that cannot possibly cover all the complex material, self-healing and practicums necessary to turn out a competent and aware facilitator.  The current standards adopted set by GPBA and ABA endorse a 450-hour, in-depth, approved training program that requires education in and understanding of psychotherapeutic processes, extensive personal work for self-healing, supervised oversight and ongoing support and education including provision of resources, training in logistics and information of legalities involved with operating a business.


Such high standards assure that the Breathwork facilitator is an aware, guiding presence for participants who maintains appropriate boundaries and does not become enmeshed in their clients’ issues or cause them further trauma or harm. In the care of a well-trained, skilled Breathworker, participants can feel confident and trust that they are safe and protected in their most vulnerable moments of healing.


Carl Jung always told his students that they must at all times keep watch over themselves, over the way they are reacting to their patient, and to be aware of not projecting their wounds onto the wounded patient.


Additionally, Breathwork trainees who do not undergo adequate training are by and large unaware of the complexity of their role in working with a client. Without the experience of conducting multiple supervised sessions and without the guidance and oversight by experienced professionals, Breathworker trainees would not have resources of a sturdy and resilient support network to learn and grow or the wisdom and insights of established professionals who can guide each trainees’ healing processes. In short, in-depth training such as GPBA and ABA endorse, produces certified Breathworkers who emerge as aware, conscious, ethical facilitators who have appropriate boundaries, are in integrity and who are safe and effective healers for their clients.


Finding a Breathworker and a Breathwork Training Program:

(with  many thanks to Adela Barcia for her collaboration on this section)


How do you find a good Breathwork facilitator? How do you discern the difference between a charlatan and a certified professional?

  • A reputable Breathworker understands the nature of your intended relationship and should be willing to give you the time you need to have your questions answered. Ask if the therapist will spend 15 minutes talking with you to see if it feels like a good fit.  If they want to charge you for that time, it’s a ‘no’ right there. They should care enough to just say yes and should understand that you choosing the right therapist is important.
  • Find out about your potential Breathworker:
    • length of time they have been facilitating Breathwork;
    • are they a certified Breathworker and who did they train with
    • what technique do they use and their orientation as a therapist is? Get details about the session such as how long the breathing part of the session runs (A session of less than one hour indicates a ‘quick fix’ approach which is something to avoid); The Breathworker should be able to articulate this because it shows they are serious about their work.
    • their personal journey in Breathwork – how has it changed their life.
    • Do they have a website or other handouts about their work?
    • Sometimes biases and personal views can creep into the interactions. So it is imperative that you are aware of the personal views of your Breathworker and that they don’t interfere with your professional relationship.


  • Be specific about what you want help with.  For instance:  “ I have childhood trauma that is in my way still”, or, “ I have relationship troubles and need support”, or, “ I’m a procrastinator and want to change it”, or “ I struggle with addiction”… Ask them about how they treat your issue— they should be able to articulate this too.


  • Your Breathwork should cover the following with you:
    • have clear boundaries by clearing any issues before a session begins and ensuring any expectations are clarified so there are no upsets. For me, I am clear about my time, my fees and I have no hidden agendas.
    • check if there is anything that needs to be cleared between them and you before beginning such as uncertainties, worries, fears or concerns about being judged etc.
    • are they a good listener and willing to help you make your own connections As a Breathworker, they should not diagnose or fix but facilitate and help you make connections that create change in your life.
    • Do they have planned obsolescence built into relationships. The ultimate goal for clients is to teach them how to use Breathwork on their own as a tool to master their own lives.  Occasional sessions after initial work is ok but not ongoing without end


  • There are many combinations and permutations of the Breathwork process these days, such as Integrative Breathwork, Transformational Breathwork, Shamanic Breathwork, Kris Cassidy’s ‘Breakthrough Breathwork Meditation’, Clarity Breathwork, Conscious Connected Breathing, Radiance Breathwork and Zen Yoga Breathwork. These are just a few of the plethora of options available to explore.  Some are effective and some are not and some provide a less than pure rendition of the Breathwork process.  The challenge for a participant is to find the purest form of the process in order to experience the most effective and undiluted version of Breathwork. Finding a certified Breathworker sanctioned by GPBA or ABA will assure you will have the best opportunity for a pure Breathwork experience.

It should also be noted that the International Breathwork Foundation (www.ibfbreathwork.org) which is global Breathwork promoter is a comprehensive resource for guidance to finding accredited schools and practitioners.


  • Trust your knowing: Pay attention to how you feel talking with them. Do theylisten and respond to what you say and ask?  How does their energy feel to you— what does your body tell you?


  • Lastly, and super important:  Do you leave the first session with a sense of hope?


In these complex times, integrity and respectful regard for others is an integral part of any interaction in the helping professions.  The clients who entrust their healing into the hands of Breathworkers must be assured that they will encounter safe, secure, supportive as well as skilled facilitators throughout their process. Their vulnerability must be held and supported by those who have received adequate and in-depth training.


It is vital that Breathworkers be certified and registered by such recognized entities as GPBA and ABA so that there is a standardized education and approach to the Breathwork experience that covers the all-significant relationship between the patient and the facilitator. As professional Breathworkers, we owe our clients nothing less.


With love and integrity,


















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