Is Breathwork more effective than counselling?

Is Breathwork more effective than counselling?

People are often surprised when I say Breathwork is more effective than counselling.

My personal observations of the healing outcomes of Breathwork since 2005 have demonstrated that in nearly every case, the location of the feeling associated with the trauma arises through the body.  That is, a tension builds in the body, is recognised and acknowledged, then eventually released.

Human beings are repression machines.  We repress lots of things like joy, grief, disappointment, misery, existential angst, feeling lost.  All these things are sublimated on a day to day basis.  A charge builds up beneath the surface, then people ‘explode’, ‘meltdown’, or ‘get strategic’, or ‘get addicted.’  Breathwork allows this charge to come to the surface in a ‘controlled’ environment, rather than in day to day life where it’s much more likely to cause damage in our relationships to others.

After the start of a Breathwork session, it takes about 15 minutes to enter the liminal space – this is where our minds can let go of their defensive mechanism. This allows a ‘charge up’ of emotional material that sits beneath the surface to come forwards for full self-expression.

When we are witnessed in our pain or distress, it gives us an extra dimension of ourselves – ‘wow, did really feel that strongly about this issue?’  Weirdly, this gives a sensation of becoming something bigger than ourselves – it taps us into our relationships with others in a very deep felt sense. When we are witnessed in this tumult of feelings, it gives us recognition that we’re okay to have feelings without judgment and without trying to shut it down because it’s ‘too strong’ or ‘too loud’.  This is why Breathwork has the edge on counselling.

As the session winds down, there should be ample time after a Breathwork session where the client should be allowed just to rest and integrate the experience.  Sometimes this recovery state is the most powerful part of the session.  The client can regulate their own nervous system to a very calming state.   Sometimes a little bit of appropriate touch may be warranted from the practitioner.  It may just be enough to stroke this client on the forehead or put a hand on their back.   Of course this is done with permission of the client before the session commences.

This is a critical part of Breathwork for some of us, because touch is something that we often don’t get much of as infants or toddlers.   This causes a major deficit in our ability to regulate ourselves –  that is the amount of time it takes from being in emotional distress to getting back to a state of equilibrium.

This is the promise of Breathwork – it allows for an unfurling of the contents of our distress in a safe and held place.    We are shown what it’s like to self-regulate our nervous system perhaps for the first time in our lives.  This is the beginning of the healing journey with your own inner healer.  This is very different from trying to calibrate our internal problems and distress with our words – that’s why in my humble opinion, Breathwork beats talk therapy hands down.