Since many years, my children as well as my students have been asking me to write. Thinking that I did not have the time, my life being so full of work, was a great excuse not to. Joy Manné finally pushed me forward, for which I am still grateful, and got me to write articles for 'The Healing Breath'. Time flies though, and I become conscious about not getting any younger. So, the moment has come that I feel the need to share my experience, not only through teaching.
I began working as a breathwork therapist and trainer in 1978, I have been fascinated by the work with my clients and students. Various kinds of clients have crossed the doorstep to my practice room. Many unusual people came into our three-year training program. They all inspired me. Working with them, has enriched my life in uncountable ways. They not only forced me to look deeper inside and develop myself; they stimulated me to deepen my capacities as a breathwork therapist.
In the late seventies, my colleague Hans Mensink and I met at a gathering of rebirthers. It was a short meeting with unforeseen consequences. We were, at least on the outside, total opposites. Nevertheless we decided to work together. We were so enthusiastic about the deep effects of the Connected Breathing Technique, which seemed so simple and easy, that we wanted to help ourselves as well as others to learn how to use it in a well-founded way, a way that would give credit to it. The more we learned about it, the more complex it became. So together, we created a training program in 1979, which grew organically over the next six years into the form we had been visualising. From a three months course the work had evolved into the three-year training program we had been aiming for. After all these years, we are still working together, which in itself is like a miracle. We have always looked upon our working together as an assignment, a task we have been given, and our working relationship is a stable factor in our lives.
This three-year training has not only been a school for the students, but for me as well. It has been a school of life. It has forced me, as therapist, trainer and teacher, to constantly learn, practice and expand my knowledge and skills.
I have always believed in learning by doing; consequently, a therapist needs to be trained by doing an intense self-development process. He has to get to know himself profoundly; his various emotions, his weaknesses, and his strengths, and he should know his vulnerability just as intimately as his deepest anger and hatred. This makes him a safe person for himself, for other human beings in general and for his clients in particular. Clinical psychologists have often been in analysis for years. Why should Breathwork Therapists be less well trained?
As therapists, we have to get that mysterious 'It', which constitutes a real good therapist, into our flesh and blood. We need to study, to practice consistently. Ultimately, we will be known by the content of our life and by ‘who we are' more than by what we say or do. We have to walk our talk.
In our training program, we teach breathwork as the basis of the therapeutic work. We teach the principles of the 'Psychology of Selves' to help people understand how the dynamics in relationships work, as well as a technique, called 'Voice Dialogue', because it is an excellent supplementary technique to use next to Integrative Breathwork. Furthermore, we teach some of the basic principles of Neuro Linguistic Programming and the fundamentals of Polarity Massage.