History of Anthroposophic Psychotherapy

As Subsection of the Medical Section, Psychotherapy originated in 1974 in both Germany and the Netherlands. Professor Bernard Lievegoed MD, and Dr. Paul von der Heide MD, were the great visionaries’ of the time. Their trainings, research and publications inspired a whole generation of psychiatrists, psychosomatic medics, and psychotherapists, not in the least due to their profound insight in how to mingle and permeate spirit knowledge with actual and practical tools for a treatment today’s patients. The kindled the Psychotherapy- and Psychiatry Movement from 1974 onward by means of annual Conferences (Filderklinik, Institut für Anthroposophische Psychotherapie) and the very first professional training in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (Zeist, The Netherlands). Ad Dekkers participated in both initiatives actively. From 1978 onward he started the first post-Lievegoed professional training, followed by a worldwide range of trainings in – meanwhile – 12 countries. This meanwhile has resulted in an array of national associations around the world, who provide conferences, lectures, study-groups, interdisciplinary trainings (so called IPMT’s). A number of these associations started Post Graduate Training programs. In 2012 an umbrella organization was founded: IFAPA. IFAPA organizes a bi-annual Training the Trainers Conference at Emerson College in the UK. Till 2016 Ad Dekkers presided the IFAPA. Today John Lees from the UK presides an active Board consisting of 13 members of all Nationalities.

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Interdisciplinary approaches within the Medical Section.

A new element was added to these initiatives in 2003: multidisciplinary approaches became the core of all trainings in anthroposophical medicine. The Medical Section, seated in Dornach CH., by then governed by Michaela Glöckler, incorporated the Psychotherapeutic profession in its rows of multidisciplinarity. The Board of the International Coordination of Anthroposophic Medicine (IKAM) from then onward included all healing professions within the Medical Section, and soon appeared to be a huge inspiration for research and teaching worldwide.
We have to realize, however, that the anthroposophical medical movement as such celebrated in 2021 its 100th. anniversary. In contrast to that age, the Psychotherapeutic Anthroposophic movement counts not more than some 45 years.

Evolving paradigms.

Having said this, we may consider the fact that Anthroposophic Psychotherapy is still developing its clinical interventions as demonstrated in the work of Ad Dekkers which includes exercises for training which can also be developed as clinical interventions. Building on salutogenic principles the interventions aim to stimulate the patient (henceforth client) in his or her so called threefoldness of Thinking, Feeling and Will, so that finally the client’s spiritual self can take hold of his or her live and unfold his life intentions, as we may call it: his or her karma.

Furthermore, the work of Henriette Dekkers in the construction of an advanced knowledge and interrelationships of Anthroposophical Psychotherapy with scientific research and transdisciplinary presented through conferences and published articles stands out.

An Anthroposophic Psychotherapist offers important qualities in interdisciplinary teams because of the regularity of sessions:
(a) the possibility of acquiring in-depth knowledge of the client for the benefit of other therapies

(b) supporting the client in the face of the challenges of transformational healing processes which can be disorientating due to the familiarity of illness, the wish for dependency and fear of taking up the challenges and responsibilities of health

(c) helping understand the patient to observe and understand healing processes on all levels of being: physical, psychological, spiritual and their interactive mutuality
(d) finding the individual and social meaning of life in the light of his or her spiritual being.

Therapeutic work may involve moving back and forth between the existential phenomenological reality of the client and the intensity of the here and now of the therapeutic relationship, encouraging healthy reflection on experience as opposed to misinterpreting social interactions, utilizing the so called pedagogical law to give structure to a biography which is in a state of confusion, promoting healthy rather than pathological clairvoyance, utilizing somatic mindfulness in trauma work, and/or focussing on concrete details to help the client to incarnate when in a state of dissociation and emulating the actions of medicines prescribed by an anthroposophic general practitioner or psychiatrist.