Date of Award

4-20-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychology

Committee Chair

Jon Frew, Ph.D., ABPP

Abstract

Psychologists of diverse orientations have utilized breathing interventions for a wide range of purposes and in a myriad of contexts. In order to provide therapists with more objective knowledge on breathing interventions, this paper presents an overview of both the theoretical' and the empirical literature related to the breath. The psychological applications of breathing are present in three modalities: affect induction, affect reduction, and awareness. Theories and techniques involving affect induction were pioneered by Wilhelm Reich and his students, and are outlined in this review for consideration. Affect reduction is shown to have a much wider range of applications, many developed from ancient yogic techniques found to have contemporary validity in the treatment of panic disorders and hyperventilation. Lastly, techniques involving awareness of breath are investigated from the theoretical perspectives of Gestalt Therapy and Mindfulness Meditation practice. A summary and discussion is provided focusing on the practicality and safety components of awareness-based breathing interventions.

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