Choosing A Breathwork Coach: 5 Tips

Breathwork is an increasingly popular but unregulated modality. There are all sorts of different courses available of varying lengths and depths, so there is good reason to do due diligence when choosing a breathwork coach. If you are looking for a life-changing experience, it is best to put yourself in well-trained hands. Here are some important considerations to take into account.

Finding Someone Who Has Done Thorough Training

People often want to work with the breath because they can achieve quick results, but there are pitfalls to be aware of, particularly for those who are very emotionally sensitive, or who have had traumatic experiences in life, or who don’t have much support available to them.

Ideally, a breathwork coach will have built up experience slowly over a number of years, perhaps in more than one modality involving the breath and the body.

Their training should have covered both theory and practice; although there are some great books available about the breath, good breathwork practice cannot be learnt from a book and requires an experiential element.

Evidence of an awareness of psychotherapeutic techniques or a counselling qualification is recommended when choosing a breathwork coach, as well as some form of trauma training from a reputable organization.

Your coach should also be undertaking what’s called CPD: continuous professional development. This might mean learning other techniques to compliment what they already do, or continuing their breathwork training with practitioners who are more experienced.

A good coach acknowledges that the learning is never done and chooses to continue working with their growing edge. Choosing a breathwork coach who is committed to developing themselves and their skills means that there is more scope for them to be able to meet their clients’ needs.

Choosing A Breathwork Coach Who Has Been Through Their Own Therapeutic Process

The desire to help others with their suffering is very human. The truth is that the first person any practitioner or coach must help is themselves so that they have as much clarity as possible about how they interact with their clients.

Practitioners who attempt to help others without first having been through their own long term process of self-enquiry can end up unconsciously projecting their own issues onto others.

It may be difficult to hold appropriate boundaries that are essential for the client to feel safe, and there can also be a risk of a re-enactment of traumatic events. In the worst case, practitioners may end up using their clients to fulfil their own needs.

Clients should feel that their needs are placed firmly at the centre of each session, that the coach is attuned to them and present to what unfolds during each session. It is perfectly acceptable to ask for information about background and training when choosing a breathwork coach.

Making Sure They Understand Trauma

For those who have been through a lot in life, when choosing a breathwork coach it is important to find someone who has an understanding of different types of trauma, and the impact that it might have both psychologically and physiologically.

A good coach should have a strong working knowledge of their particular breathwork technique, how it can impact upon trauma held in the body, and what the signs are that a client is unable to manage what is arising. They should also to be able to adapt their approach to ensure as much as possible that the work remains within the tolerance level of their client, which will differ for each person.

Although there are certain events that are inevitably experienced as traumatic, such as sexual, physical or emotional abuse, trauma can be subjective. This means that any situation or event can be seen through the lens of trauma, if the client has experienced it as such.

Developmental trauma which has occurred in the form of abuse and neglect over long periods of time during childhood might not be immediately obvious to clients. As clients connect with their inner world via the breath, a slow dawning awareness may arise that is extremely painful to experience, and this needs to be handled right.

In extreme circumstances, an unconscious adaptation of the breath has a strongly protective factor and may have saved the psyche from psychosis, so there is a need for awareness and care, and for the coach to ensure that a client is sufficiently resourced before exploring the breath.

Choosing A Breathwork Coach Who Has Access to Supervision

A practitioner who has professional supervision is a good sign that they have the humility to ask for help when needed. All practitioners encounter situations they have not met before from time to time, and it is a healthy choice to work with someone who has access to advice and a wider perspective, and who makes themselves accountable to others.

Beware of practitioners who claim to know it all, or who reference themselves and their experiences on a regular basis. There may be times when it is relevant for a coach to refer to their own experience as a way of modelling something for the client, but when it starts to become more about them than the client this is a red flag.

What Questions Does Your Breathwork Coach Ask You?

A good breathwork coach will take some important information from clients before beginning the work. They should be interested in how well-supported their clients are, including whether they are already seeing another therapist. They should ask about any significant medical issues, operations, mental health conditions or traumatic experiences that might be impacted by working with the breath. They should also want to know what their clients are hoping for, and why they have chosen this moment to explore themselves using the breath.

During the session, the practitioner should be asking for feedback from their client, and the client should know that they are free to stop the session at any moment if it becomes too much for them.

If physical touch is involved, a coach must ask for consent prior to beginning the work.

I hope this has provided some useful guidance on what to look for when choosing a breathwork coach. To find out more about my work, you can read about my training and experience here. If you are exploring the idea of becoming a breathwork coach yourself, then I recommend looking at the Conscious Breathwork For The Heart website.