Current Research Projects and Conference Participation


Current Research Projects and Conference Participation

Following are some ongoing research projects and reports of research related to Holotropic Breathwork:

HB Case Reports presented in South Africa11/08.

Tim Brewerton, MD, and co-authors presented at the International Society of Addiction Medicine 10th Annual Meeting in Cape Town, South Africa in November, 2008. The abstract accepted by ISAM was as follows:

Long-term Abstinence Following Holotropic Breathwork as Adjunctive Treatment of Substance Dependence

Timothy D. Brewerton, MD(1)
James Eyerman, MD(2)
Pamela Capetta, M.Ed.(3)
Michael C. Mithoefer, MD(1)

1 Medical University of South Carolina
2 University of California, San Francisco
3 Private Practice, Williamsburg, Virginia

“Many recovering addicts and clinicians stress the importance of spiritual issues in recovery, and 12-step programs such as AA are well-known approaches that embrace this philosophy. Holotropic Breathwork (HB) is another powerful, spiritually oriented approach to self-exploration and healing that integrates insights from modern consciousness research, anthropology, depth psychologies, transpersonal psychology, Eastern spiritual practices, and many mystical traditions. HB offers the addict many opportunities for enhancing addiction treatment, including entering non-ordinary states of consciousness to seek healing and wisdom via a natural, non-addictive method, a direct experience of one’s Higher Power, and for physical and emotional catharsis associated with stress and prior trauma. We report the successful use of HB in 4 cases in which complete abstinence was obtained and maintained for extended periods. These include: 1) 14 y/o WM with polysubstance abuse in residential treatment for 2 years when he began monthly HB sessions. He achieved abstinence for 2 years, had a brief relapse, then another year of abstinence when he was adopted; 2) 31 y/o WF with suicidal major depression in recovery from alcoholism and polysubstance abuse who after 2 HB sessions improved and achieved abstinence for 3+ years when she was lost to follow-up; 3) 49 y/o WM with recurrent major depression, PTSD, and marijuana abuse/dependence for 30 years. Despite multiple courses of psychotherapy and antidepressants his addiction continued unabated until he began HB. After 4 sessions he became abstinent for 6 months, then relapsed, but after 20 more sessions over 2 years he became completely abstinent and remained so for 5+ years; 4) 50 y/o WF with 29 years of alcoholism/polysubstance abuse, PTSD, and major depression began a series of 25 HB sessions over 5 years beginning 60 days after getting sober with AA. Nine years after beginning HB she remains abstinent from all substances.”

Dr. Brewerton is still seeking case reports like these that he will present in South Africa, as follows

Call for Case Reports, Tim Brewerton, M.D.

“In addition to being a certified Holotropic Breathwork facilitator, I am also a psychiatrist and clinical researcher with over 25 years of experience. I have agreed to join AHBI in the upcoming efforts to develop a strong research base that we believe will serve to integrate Holotropic Breathwork into the mainstream. As someone who has been involved in academic psychiatry/psychology for most of my career, I have a sense of what will be required in order for this shift to happen. Although Stan Grof has written many books, when one looks into the scientific literature using typical means, i.e., Medline, PsychLit, and CINAHL searches, there is virtually little or nothing. The time is ripe to change this situation.

“Although I am convinced, as most of you are who read this, of the immense healing value of Holotropic Breathwork, many clinical scientists and others who rely on empirically validated techniques are simply not going to listen until there is scientific data to support its usefulness. The fact is that Holotropic Breathwork has not been fully researched from a scientific point of view in order for it to be thought of as an empirically validated thera­peutic option by mainstream psychiatry or psychology. Anecdotal reports strongly suggest its helpfulness for many individuals who have suffered from any number of psychiatric disorders, including alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, dissociation, and anxiety disorders such as PTSD, but these reports are mostly confined to Stan’s writings in books, which are not peer-reviewed.

“Along with Michael Mithoefer, M.D., and others who will be working with me on this project, I plan to begin adding Holotropic Breathwork to the armamentarium of available psychotherapeutic tools by publishing research about it in mainstream journals. The initial step in this plan is to publish case reports that describe sig­nificant improvements in certain psychiatric disorders following Holotropic Breathwork, in conjunction with standard psychiatric or psychological treatments.

“We are therefore asking all licensed mental health professionals to send us reports of cases that you yourself have treated and wit­nessed to have improved as a result of both traditional treatments (psychotherapy and/or pharmacotherapy) in conjunction with Ho­lotropic Breathwork. We will need as much clinical information and history as possible (including diagnosis) in order to document each case, but of course, without any identifying information. Please send your cases, as well as your contact information, di­rectly to me at [email protected] . We will document these cases using a standard format and submit them to an appropriate psychiatric journal. Anyone who submits cases that we use will be invited to be a coauthor on the paper. This strategy might then lead to other research projects that could eventually further substantiate the effectiveness of Holotropic Breathwork for various types of psychiatric disorders.

“Thanks for any assistance you can offer to this endeavor.”
Best wishes to you all,
Tim Brewerton, M.D.
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry
Medical University of South Carolina

Society of Applied Ethnopsychology and Cognitive Studies in Barcelona, Spain, Iker Puente

Iker Puente has concluded this study which forms his PhD work at the Society of Applied Ethnopsychology and Cognitive Studies in Barcelona, Spain. He analyzed 31 individuals in a Holotropic Breathwork group against 31 individuals in a control group, using three measures. With AHBI he is currently collecting and analyzing the data of a companion study conducted in October 2007 at the Omega Institute in New York State.

Birth Trauma and Beyond, Gregg Lahood and Judy Cottrell

Gregg Lahood, PhD, (an anthropologist of child-birth and consciousness) and Judy Cottrell (midwife and midwifery educator at New Zealand’s National Women’s Hospital), have designed a study entitled “Birth Trauma and Beyond” to thoroughly explore the transpersonal dimensions of women’s and men’s experience in child-birth. AHBI is working with Gregg and Judy in locating participants to describe ‘extraordinary’, ‘spiritual’ or ‘transpersonal’ experiences of consciousness during birth-giving. If you are interested in participating in this study, or would like to know more, please read the call for participation.

Intuitive Study with Holotropic Breathwork Mandalas, Rubye Cervelli

Rubye Cervelli, a fifth year Ph.D. student at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California, is looking for participants for her dissertation research. She is interested in hearing about your experience of Holotropic Breathwork and its subsequent mandala artwork. The main requirement is that an interview be held within two weeks of your participation in a six-day Grof Transpersonal Training (GTT) breathwork retreat. The following is her description of the research:

“My study uses Intuitive Inquiry, a qualitative, hermeneutic style research method to explore the nuances of your experience of Holotropic Breathwork and the mandala artwork. Participation involves 1) signing a consent form, 2) completing a demographics inventory, 3) doing an in-depth, taped telephone interview, 4) providing a copy of your mandala artwork from your GTT retreat and 5) reviewing the transcription of your interview. Altogether, participation will take about three hours. This research project is intended for broad publication, but confidentiality will be maintained through the use of pseudonyms. This study is not affiliated with GTT in any way. If you would like to participate in this study, please contact me at ruby at or by telephone in the U.S. (650) 776-1002.”

Endorsement from Stan Grof for Rubye’s research:

“We have reached a stage when research on various aspects of holotropic breathwork will determine the role this work will play in psychiatry, psychology, and in the world. I strongly encourage participants in the training and in holotropic breathwork workshops in general to become part of this study.”

Stanislav Grof, M.D.

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1 Comment so far

Dr. Gary HuberPosted on11:10 am - Apr 11, 2019

How can i find and work with a Grof trained counselor in order to experience Holotropic breathwork?

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