Jan van Dixhoorn (born 02-04-1948) studied Medicine at Rotterdam and Amsterdam University (MD in 1977, PhD in 1991, Cum Laude). He became fascinated by the possibilities of body awareness and selfregulation to increase health and recovery from illness. He studied with a voice teacher and they wrote a book on breathing and breathing therapy (1979), which is still in use and now in its 9th printing. He developed "breath relaxation" and established its positive effects in a clinical trial in myocardial infarction patients, in collaboration with Rotterdam University (Dr HJ Duivenvoorden). This was the basis for a PhD thesis (1991) and for the inclusion of relaxation therapy as an independent treatment modality in the Dutch Guidelines for Cardiac Rehabilitation (1996). In a five-year follow-up, the addition of six individual sessions in breath relaxation to a physical exercise rehabilitation programme turned out to reduce the occurrence of cardiac events by 30%. For an update of the Guidelines for Cardiac Rehabiliation he worked on a systematic review and meta-analysis of relaxation therapy for cardiac patients, in collaboration with Exeter University (Dr A White). The review supported that relaxation therapy and a relaxation programme is an independent component of rehabilitation and was published in 2005.
From 1984 - 1986 he was secretary of the Rehabilitation Council of the Dutch Heart Foundation. In this capacity he conducted a national survey of cardiac rehabilitation. This led to a continuing monitoring project, which resulted in a dissertation by P Soons (Maastricht University, 1995). He initiated a clinical trial, carried out by Dr HJ Duivenvoorden and drs P de Wit, of the effect of intensive preparation for cardiac surgery and co-authored the publication of its results.
He was chairman of the working group to redesign the cardiac rehabilitation process in Kennemer Hospital, from 1998-2000. This was part of a national endeavour to redesign care, facilitated by Ernst & Young, consultancy and the Ministry of Health. As a result, the initial treatment period was conceptualized as a screening phase. Based on the response of the patient to the exercise and relaxation group programmes, the team decides to either stop or continue treatment. Since its implementation, the number of treatment sessions has been reduced and varied much more between patients: more tailor-made rehabilitation.
He studied acupuncture at the Anglo-Dutch College of Acupuncture and with a Japanese teacher. He is member of NVA (Dutch Acupuncture Association). He followed the training for Feldenkrais practitioner with M Segal, and is member of the NFV (Dutch Feldenkrais Association). He completed the training in CranioSacral therapy with JE Upledger and became certified CST teacher. Initiated the Upledger Institute Europe and was its first president, from 1990-1994.
He was head of one of the first Biofeedback Clinics in the country, from 1977-1983, located in Kennemer Hospital, location Deo, in Haarlem. He presented the concepts of relaxation and selfregulation through numerous lectures in the country and was member of the interuniversity working group on biofeedback.
He has been consistently developing and finally teaching his method in a three-year long course on 'breath
relaxation' and presented it in numerous smaller courses and workshops and many publications.
From 1987 to 2003 he has been teaching a national course 'Relaxation instruction in cardiac
rehabilitation', organised by the National Heart Foundation for rehabilitation staff and published a manual.
In 1998 this became a seven-days course that is equivalent to the first year of his own
course. From 1995 on he has been teaching a course 'Breathing therapy' through the National
Paramedic Institute, which is also equivalent to the first year of his course. In 1998 a
professional handbook Ontspanningsinstructie was published. His method constitutes a specialisation within
a range of somatic and psychotherapeutic professions, as well as for teachers of music, yoga
and stress management courses. Its value lies in the differentiation of the various
modalities of instruction, and the various processes that occur in response to instruction.
The purpose is to adapt the instruction to the individual client and to find a way that
increases selfregulation. Since 1999 students who completed the three-year course can become
certified practitioners of breathing and relaxation therapy, Van Dixhoorn Method, when they
pass the criteria of an advisory board. In 2002 a Foundation for breathing and relaxation therapy
was created to promote and check the quality of certified practicitoners, and maintains a
registry and a website.
In 2008 a national congress was organized at the occasion of 10-years of work after publication of his manual and of the successful completion of a teacher's education by six practitioners, which ensures the continuation of the three-years education for the future. At the same time a book was published with essays and articles on breathing therapy, 'AOT aan de tand gevoeld'.
He developed the concept of dysfunctional breathing to replace the term hyperventilation syndrome. The term HVS relates complaints to hypocapnia, whereas hypocapnia is only a part of the functional disturbance of breathing. Introduced this concept at the conference of the International Society for the Advancement of Respiratory Psychophysiology (ISARP) in 1996. Chairman of the Dutch group of ISARP. He teaches a course on the treatment of complaints of hyperventilation and dysfunctional breathing, organised by the National Paramedic Institute.
He is member of the Board of Directors of the International Stress Management Association
(ISMA) and vice-president since 2001. In 1993 he initiated the Dutch ISMA
branch and became its first president, up till the present day. He co-organised the fifth
International Conference of ISMA, in The Netherlands, in 1995. A book of abstracts is
available through email@example.com .
He is member of the editorial board of the journal 'Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback'
and recently became associate editor of the 'International Journal of Stress Management'.
ISMA Netherlands started a master course 'stress management' together with the International Federation for Occupational Health and the BeNeLux University Foundation to educate certified stress management therapists and counsellors. He was a main teacher from 1998 to 2003 at this postdoctoral Master Course 'Stress management' at the BeNeLux University Foundation.
He presented in lectures and workshops in international congresses on: Cardiac Rehabilitation, Biofeedback, Stress Management, Biobehavioral Self-Regulation and Health, Respiratory Psychophysiology and in publications in international scientific journals.