Breathwork techniques and therapies offer a set of practical interventions for clinical mental health counselors (CMHCs) and are viable methods for integrating physiological sensitivities in treatment by way of the relaxation response. We discuss an organizing framework of breathwork practices and identify three broad categories of breathwork within the field: deep relaxation breathing, mindfulness breathwork, and yogic breathing. Each style is distinct in how it is applied and in the specific respiratory patterns that users are instructed to use. We also aim to elaborate the physiological effects, clinical research outcomes, and applicability of breathwork for treating mental illness. Overall, research findings indicate that breathwork may be efficacious for treating anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Despite preliminary evidence for breathwork's efficacy for treating common psychological distress, more research is needed to evaluate its utility for treating a wider range of mental illness. CMHCs are encouraged to incorporate breathwork techniques in their clinical treatment programs but must appraise the value of each technique individually.
A Practitioner's Guide to Breathwork in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
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Babatunde Aideyan, Gina C. Martin, Eric T. Beeson; A Practitioner's Guide to Breathwork in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Journal of Mental Health Counseling 1 January 2020; 42 (1): 78–94. doi: https://doi.org/10.17744/mehc.42.1.06
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