Holotropic Breathwork (HB), a unique study developed by Christina and Stanislav Grof in 1975, combines deep breathing, music, and bodywork to explore the realms of consciousness and promote psychological healing. Despite its growing popularity, scientific research on its effects has been limited. This article presents a study by Tanja Miller, PhD, and Laila Nielsen, Cand.psych, aimed at understanding how HB influences the development of self-awareness.

The Study’s Foundation

The research was designed to answer a critical question: Does practicing HB significantly affect an individual’s self-awareness? To tackle this, the study focused on measuring changes in temperament and character among participants before and after undergoing HB sessions.

Participants and Procedure

Twenty individuals, ranging from HB novices to those with prior experience, participated in the study. These participants were divided into two groups: novices (9) and experienced (11). They underwent four sessions of HB, and their psychological profiles were assessed using three tools – the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI-R), the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems (IIP), and the Symptom Checklist-90-R (SCL-90-R).

Key Findings

The study’s findings were eye-opening:

Overall, reductions were observed in persistence temperament, interpersonal difficulties, overly accommodating tendencies, intrusive or needy behaviors, and hostility across all participants. Interestingly, these changes in temperament were accompanied by an increase in paranoid ideation, suggesting a phase of wariness following these shifts.


The study concludes that HB can induce significant positive changes in both temperament and character, thereby enhancing self-awareness. For novices, the biggest shifts were seen in temperament, potentially decreasing the risk of immaturity and obsessional tendencies. Experienced participants, on the other hand, displayed advancements in character development, indicated by higher self-awareness and reduced interpersonal problems.

Reflections and Limitations

While the study’s results are promising, it’s important to note the limitations, such as the small sample size and the potential bias stemming from voluntary participation. These factors suggest that the findings might not be universally applicable.

Moving Forward

This research sheds light on the potential of HB as a tool for personal development, specifically in enhancing self-awareness. However, further studies with larger and more diverse participant groups are necessary to fully understand HB’s impact and its place in psychological practice.

In simple terms, HB appears to be more than just a breathing technique; it’s a pathway to understanding oneself better, showing promise for those seeking personal growth and psychological well-being.

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