By Erin Gabriel
Candice Wells screams for a living.
No, we’re not talking about screamo music. We’re talking about breathwork. As the owner and facilitator of Screamwerk in Denver, Colo., Candice is a breathwork facilitator, energy worker, yoga teacher, and entrepreneur who guides individuals to scream their way to a spiritual awakening.
When most people think of breathwork, yoga breathing patterns to calm the nervous system or active breathing techniques like what you see on apps like Calm or HeadSpace may come to mind. But Screamwerk utilizes a form of psychedelic or somatic breathwork, which is more focused on the body.
“As I taught breathwork classes, I recognized that a primal scream timed at an integral moment of the practice helped to fully release pent-up feelings,” Candice says.
At Screamwerk, you are invited to scream out loud or into a pillow during classes called “Scream Church”—a tongue-in-cheek name that came from the classes being held on Sundays. Candice coaches clients through the process of screaming from the feet to the throat to the release—allowing what needs to come up to come up. The process can help individuals go deeper into their meditation and breathing pattern—often facilitating letting go of emotions, sensations, and pain they’ve been holding on to. Plus it reduces tension and triggers endorphins.
When was the last time you screamed at the top of your lungs? It helped, didn’t it? So often we struggle to let our feelings out—especially men. “Society does not often give space for men to be sensitive and vulnerable,” Candice says. But through guided breathing and screaming—and a safe community space—you can start to heal wounds. Maybe screaming is the key to solving the emotional gender gap, eh?
Then there’s the breathing technique behind Screamwerk, which incorporates a double inhale that “brings your consciousness to the surface and helps you self regulate while tapping into deeper emotions,” Candice explains, adding it helps create an emotional release—which leads to transformative inner healing, deeper insight, and inner exploration.
Healing is a journey
“I wanted to build a place for people to find community without judgment. Provide a space for those trying to work on themselves,” Candice says. “I felt like an outcast throughout my life, and I want to provide a space for everyone to fit in.”
Candice’s approach combines the healing modalities that have worked for her, and she hopes that by sharing them, others can take what they need to help them on their path.
“My life has been shaped by trauma and hardship, but it has certainly not been defined by it,” Candice’s about page reads on the Screamwerk website.
Growing up, Candice faced difficulties at home, so she looked for community in a local Christian youth group. But when she became pregnant, her community did not accept or support her. After struggling with addiction, Candice found community again in Alcoholics Anonymous. She got sober and built connections. But when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and decided to try psychedelics as part of her treatment, that AA community considered her no longer sober, and she lost their support. Then, she went through a divorce—losing the community she had built with her partner.
“There is not just one path to recovery,” Candice adds. “It can look however it needs to look like. But most importantly find community.”
At Screamwork, Candice builds her own community while helping others on their own healing journey—with levity, joy, and sometimes fun in the healing process.
“Try anything. Try every healing modality you are interested in whether that be pole dancing, pottery, breathwork. See what brings you joy and remember no one thing is going to heal everything but find out how you can integrate different healing modalities into your life,” Candice advises. “The small changes and taking ownership of your own behavior and healing is the most important part.”
A Screamwerk session
Breathing technique isn’t the only part of the Scream Church experience. Candice creates an environment built for healing. In the background of the session, a curated playlist of psychedelic music is on—making you feel “high” without actually taking anything. Safe touch is woven into the session, too. With an individual’s consent, when you are deep in meditation breathwork, and emotions arise, facilitators of a breathwork session will often offer a safe touch like squeezing your shoulder, etc., to help hold space for you and let you know you are not alone in your journey to help ground you.
Intuitive integration is also incorporated, the facilitator witnessing someone’s breathwork experience will help that individual create a plan for moving forward after the session. Sometimes this is through work similar to inner child work, which helps resolve childhood emotions and experiences that you still hold—as well as harnessing the joy, innocence, and confidence you had in childhood. That intuitive integration can also look like creating a self-care plan such as not drinking alcohol afterward, taking a salt bath, or providing additional resources like local therapists or other healing practitioners.
Some of Screamwerk’s attendees will choose to use plant medicine or psychedelics during the process—it is Denver, after all, for those of our readers in a less lenient state. The addition, Candice has found, helps treat underlying issues—like depression, anxiety, and PTSD—but it is not a requirement for the session.
Screaming while we work
Candice has always had an entrepreneurial mindset, which she attributes to being a Capricorn. (We do love Capricorns here at Catcall.) As she was learning breathwork, Candice saw the need for this type of healing modality and realized she could facilitate these experiences herself. After just returning from receiving clinical mental health support, finishing her cancer treatment, and going through a divorce, Candice realized she needed to financially support herself, and decided to lean into the screaming and start her own business.
However, she did not just dive in head first. Candice had previous experience with therapy, including EMDR, talk, somatic touch, mental health outpatient programs, clinical ketamine treatments, yoga, personal training, breathwork, and reiki. She also took training and is passionate about continuing to learn. But most importantly, she adjusts her practice based on staying attuned to what others need—always checking in with her clients and respecting their autonomy.
“This is a self-love practice,” Candice says, “so the most important piece is that they feel the autonomy to process the experience in a way that is right for them.”
Before starting Screamwerk, Candice was doing stand-up comedy. She spoke with a fellow comedian about breathwork, and he shared he couldn’t afford a session because most facilitators work one-on-one, which can be more pricey. Candice did not want finances to limit access to the work she was hoping to do, so she invited her friend to invite folks for a more affordable group session. They started meeting every Sunday—the origination of the Scream Church name—and the group grew. Today, the session is open to the public and happens twice every Sunday.
For Candice, she gets the draw of one-on-one sessions, too. Breathwork can work through immensely personal difficulties, and working privately with someone is a safer way to get vulnerable. There are many types of breathwork and facilitators, so be open to shopping around for the right person and find someone you connect with and feel safe with.
If there is anything you take from Candice’s work, she wants it to be that you prioritize building community—whether that is in a breathwork space or not. Focus on your healing and embrace vulnerability; see where you can be helpful even if that is just with the people closest to you. Be present with them. Listen. And scream together.
Erin Gabriel (she/her) is an educator, writer, social media manager, and former digital journalist for CNN. Erin currently lives in Denver and loves anything health & wellness/professional development related as well as reading, being outdoors, and traveling. She is passionate about social justice issues but has specifically worked in the realms of improving the quality of public education, fighting for immigrant/refugee rights, and advocating for disability rights.
Photos courtesy of Screamwerk.