The Anthroposophic Psychotherapy started in the early eighties at two places: in Stuttgart – Germany – at the Filder Clinic, and in Zeist, the Netherlands. It started in Zeist with a working- and study group of psychiatrists, but soon after the beginning the initiative got its vibrant and long-lasting impulse by a closed group of psychologists under a three years guidance of Bernard Lievegoed. There lays the origin of the book “Man at the Threshold”.
The organizational structure of this very first professional study – and training group was built on the indispensable guidelines of Rudolf Steiner that the medical profession – and the psychotherapy as a medical profession – must be understood as an ‘Erweiterung’ of the regular, academic educations in the medical and psychotherapeutical field. “No Anthroposophic Psychotherapy without an academic prequalification”. This vision is rooted in the ideas of Rudolf Steiner and it also was the conviction of Lievegoed. One of the – secondary but not less important – considerations was that for the further development of the profession homogeneity in prequalification is a ‘conditio sine qua non’. “Every profession has its own altar to the spiritual world.”
Lievegoed handled a strict separation between psychotherapy and biographical work. So Lievegoed, being with us as psychotherapists in the morning, after lunch he left us to train the first working group of the biographical workers with Rinke Visser in another room in the same building.
Psychotherapists and biographical workers have a different task in the world.
Psychotherapy is for the mentally ill persons – with a diagnosis, a plan of treatment with a defined end of therapy and interdisciplinary cooperation on two levels: in accordance with the regular professional standards as well as with the anthroposophic departing points and standards.
The biographical work is for the necessary self-knowledge in the epoch of the consciousness- soul to become fully aware of the karmic tasks and possibilities as a preparation for the Spirit- Self. It is a worldwide task in the development of mankind.
So, psychotherapy is for the thousands and biographical work is for the millions.
Both working methods have their seductions disguised in enthusiasm. And often with consent of the patient / client.
The seduction for the psychotherapist is to lose effective problem-oriented direction and to move himself in the direction of wellness and ‘feel – good’ therapies.
The seduction for the biographical counselors / workers is to hear and pay attention to severe problems as the direction for action instead of preserving their proper didactical lines.
Both seductions are based on a wrong concept of the profession combined with self- indulgence to let it happen.
The seductions tend to invade the professional organizations, lowering or changing admittance criteria. That means in our case lowering the level of identity of the anthroposophical psychotherapist, diffusion of identity on the basis of the lack of professional prequalified homogeneity, and consequently losing professional respectability in the eyes of national and international professional -, and national and international administrations (f.e. National Health Departments, WHO), destabilizing the warrants for the patients, and weakening the ethical rules.
The same is of course the case for the biographical workers when they have unbalanced ideas of their identity.
I feel the anger of those who feel not admitted because they haven’t built their own professional home in the House of Anthroposophy. As was proposed by Michaela Glöckler some years ago for the biographical workers: ‘Therapeutic Biographical Counselor’. That was their real momentum.
Now in my seventies, looking back at my responsibilities during my presidencies of NVAP (Dutch Association for Anthroposophic Psychotherapy), IKAM and IFAPA, I regret the moments that I didn’t stick enough to the principles articulated by Steiner and Lievegoed.
We have to guard in the most severe manner our professionalism by overcoming our professional handicaps, where feelings tend to overwhelm the thinking and willing in our professional scenery: the feelings should not become the reigning king in human and professional life. Thinking and willing unmistakably have to occupy their directing stance. The more so from an anthroposophical point of view.
Whenever the feeling takes a position to which it is not entitled, it is weakening thinking and willing. And consequently, as proves to be the case, the willing is suffering in the global chorus of psychotherapists. There is an evident discrepancy between the richness of the feelings, the richness in teachings and trainings on the one hand, and the range of fructifying professional interaction with national and international research, with academic collegial bodies, as well as national and international administrations (f.e. National Health Departments, WHO etc.) in our deeds and actions.
In the end I want to make a remark on a strange but concerning observation. In the course of the years, I have heard at some places, at some moments from some colleagues the opinion that there is still not an Anthroposophic Psychotherapy for use in the consultation rooms.
What has been developed in the course of the past 45 years might be called an impressive harvest on anthroposophical tools and competences regarding Knowledge of Man, assessment, anthroposophic diagnostic doors of perception of the origins of mental illness, and a range of guiding principles on healing by psychotherapy.
Without falling into a long exposé: studying a phenomenon in the anthroposophic phenomenological way gives an insight that has immediately consequences for psychotherapy. At those very moments another new seed in the Anthroposophic Psychotherapy is emerging. Denying the Anthroposophic Psychotherapy is a denying or misunderstanding of phenomenology.
I am happy about the places where the Anthroposophic Psychotherapy lives and fructifies, and I am concerned about the places where there isn’t found a clear view on how to proceed.
Former president of NVAP
Former guest-member of the ‘Initiativkreis’ Stuttgart
Former Coordinator for Psychotherapy in the Medical Section IKAM Former president of IFAPA