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Training

Holistic Biography work may be undertaken in different ways

  • Take yourself through the Biography Log-book, individually, with its Companion Guide-book, with a trusted companion, or within a small study group. It provides an introduction to this creative and systematic way of working with a life story, and an opportunity to summarise your own.
    Read more about the Log-book
  • Find an accredited Biography Consultant, and work through your life story with their help. This is a good strategy when facing challenges or crises that are hard to manage on your own.
    See the Consultant List
  • Do the Introductory Course in Holistic Biography Work as an online Learning Package. It is designed for independent learning. Or do the Foundation Course online with a self-paced Learning Pack. Guided Group-work is optional unless you want to do the Biography Training Program. You could do the Foundation Course as offered in different countries by trained Biography Consultants, mentored by Karl-Heinz Finke. Currently Foundation Courses are offered in India, Thailand, Germany, Australia and Online.
    Read more about the Foundation course
  • Do some Modules on topics that interest you. If you have completed an Introductory Course or Foundation Workshop, you will have sufficient background to work through one of the Learning Packs available for some of the Modules.Gradually they will all be made available online. Check our online Courses for more details. You will find specific details of each Module further down.
  • Undertake a comprehensive Training Program in Holistic Biography Work. Such a Program trains you to become a recognised Biography Consultant. Participants also undertake the whole Training or selected Modules for personal or professional development.
  • It is possible to be mentored after completing the Training Course, in order to teach individual Modules or the entire Training yourself. This is by invitation.

Philosophy

Holistic Biography Work reflects on individual biographies or life stories against the backdrop of the archetypal developmental journey of humanity.

Looking at one’s life story in a creative and systematic way can be done individually, with a group of trusted companions or in therapeutic settings. This provides valuable insights into the themes, changes and turning points in one’s life. Strengthening and deepening self-knowledge, it offers keys for future change and growth.

Holistic Biography Work is beneficial for personal and professional development. Participating therapists, teachers, facilitators and consultants have found that seeing everyday experiences embedded in a full Life Story and in context with the theory provided in our Course, results in a deeper understanding of phases and layers in life and opens new perspectives and approaches in work.

Holistic Biography Work is therefore a useful tool within careers counselling, coaching, couples counselling, family therapy, curative work; and in consultancy work with groups or organisations. The development of groups and organisations follows similar patterns and phases to individual development.

Holistic Biography Work provides a healing and curative approach because it helps us to view life in a clearer and more conscious way. It helps us to develop self-acceptance, it invites us to take new directions, to reinvent our goals and to create meaning. It can be part of individual biographical Counselling, Art therapy or Psychotherapy. It aims to work, at a soul level, towards the integration of difficult and unique life experiences. Alongside archetypal, general laws there are individual laws and patterns resulting from one’s destiny, which can be explored as individual work or in one-to-one sessions.

foot_prints_sand2--foto-von-karl-heinz-finke

Training Goals

Holistic Biography Work Training Program aims to prepare Biography Consultants who can accompany others in challenging or decisive moments of their lives.

Biography Work is a preventative or salutogenic process. It is not a therapeutic modality or therapy substitute, but provides a method of clarification that is often experienced as helpful, with therapeutic ‘side-effects’. We can become more whole after falling apart and come to better terms with ourselves and the world. We are ‘heard’ and ‘seen’ and gain a helpful perspective through this process.

In individual or group work, the experiences of the past, the current life situation and future development opportunities are systematically examined and mapped, in order to develop steps and goals for the future. Various perspectives and themes are used throughout the training process.

We use a phenomenological approach that incorporates questioning and self-reflection. The systematic stock-taking of the different aspects of our life contributes to an individual search for meaning. It is also helpful in considering vocational choices, partnership dilemmas, life challenges, destiny moments or coming to terms with ill-health. A Life Panorama Chart provides a condensed life overview and enables an objective overview to be undertaken.

The methods of biography work can be applied in the field of human resources in organisations or for the systematic development of a corporate biography and identity.

The methods of biography work that we teach in our courses are derived from two main sources:

  • The systematic, phenomenological and comparative exploration of human biographies by various researchers; and
  • the study of the human being based on psychological studies and a spiritual perspective.

Together they give rise to generalisable biographical laws, e.g. about life-phases, phases in the development of consciousness, typical developmental crises, rhythms and turning points in human biographies.

Participants of our Holistic Biography Work Training Program examine their life experiences through different lenses, over a period of 3 or so years, and deepen their understanding of the human life journey. They learn to become helpful companions for others facing questions or challenges. After successful completion of the training, they may become accredited Biography Consultants.

Spiritual perspective

Holistic Biography Work offers a resource that may be seen as a practical psychology. The underlying philosophy for Biography Work is Anthroposophy. Its founder, Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, gave many descriptions of human development which form the base of Holistic Biography Work: the seven-year phases; the rhythms and cycles of development; significant turning points in life; the mirroring of early experiences in later phases of life; the transformation of experiences and bodily forces into soul aptitudes and spiritual faculties; and the continuous activity of the spiritual laws and forces, the stars and the planets and the heavenly hierarchies being in the background of our lives. It is an inspiring picture of individual human life as a microcosm of the great universe, a journey of metamorphosis and transformation reflecting the development of humanity, the earth and the cosmos.

We examine our 7-year life phases in greater detail, keeping in mind this spiritual perspective. In each phase, we develop a new capacity, that enables us to understand more of the world and ourselves. We meet our life themes and questions in different ways. We face developmental tasks. We can regard our life as ‘a journey of initiation’. Through our conscious activity we can develop our capacities and create ourselves anew. We discover ourselves as spiritual beings. Steiner describes anthroposophy as: ‘a path of knowledge, to guide the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe. It arises in the human being as a need of the heart, of the life of feeling.’

As we examine our own lives, to find out who we are as human beings, we have the opportunity to take hold of our lives in a new way. We come to know ourselves as co-creators of our lives, connected with the whole of creation.

The passages in Rudolf Steiner’s books How to Know Higher Worlds and Social and Antisocial Forces describe a phenomenological method of working with biography which Gudrun Burkhard elaborates through examples of the life chart (Panorama Chart) and suggestions for working with life events through dialogue and artistic expression. The aim is to bring memories to light through our conscious ego activity. By making concrete, detailed pictures of both the inner and outer phenomena of our life and looking at it all as a selfless witness, we can begin to discern the truth within. When we review our past and make an effort to separate the essential from the non-essential, we can digest and integrate what has happened and access the deeper aims and intentions that are at work there. When we see and understand we can take responsibility and make choices for the future; we can find a new relationship to the past, awaken to the opportunities in the present and step into life more fully.

This, Burkhard suggests, is preventative medicine. When we take on our self-education together with others, we consciously work to transform conditions and tendencies that otherwise might lead to illness. In this way we move from necessity to freedom, becoming active with the spiritual powers and responsible for our life and its future unfolding. By consciously taking hold of the material of our lives we access and generate healing substances from our biography that are available for our further creative endeavours; our biography becomes our artistic creation that can inspire and nourish others on their way.

When we make pictures of our life, we ritualize our life, lifting it to a mythic level. The archetype of human development is unveiled through the details of our individual way in life and our life gains meaning, when seen from the backdrop of the archetype. We come to experience ourselves as citizens of the earth and the cosmos. We can put ourselves aside and turn outwards in interest and devotion to others and the world.

Working with biography out of the substance of anthroposophy ‘will make us love the human being under every circumstance and will strengthen and increase mutual interest’ (Steiner, Lecture 14/09/1918).

In one of his lectures Steiner describes how in our late twenties we come to a threshold, a zero-point, where life ceases to carry us and all our future development depends on our own effort. One could say that our collective future also depends on this ever-increasing activity of our ‘I’ in taking hold of its inner freedom and creativity to meet destiny.

It is this activity of our ‘I’ to create out of nothingness that is the essence of Holistic Biography Work. It is a schooling path to strengthen and stretch our ‘I’ and to develop faculties for meeting our fellow human beings: capacities of observation and thinking, of tolerance, empathy and interest. It instils in us gratitude for all that comes to us, opening a path to the sensing of karma. The more deeply we understand our human story, the more we study our own lives and listen to and read the stories of others, the greater our understanding and compassion for the ways of destiny; the finer our sensitivity for what a human life is.

Today we are uncertain about our existence and are in danger of losing our sense of our humanity. We have a deep longing to be seen and met in our reality, to have our human story reflected.

Holistic Biography Work offers many ways of understanding and working with life stories.

Training – Methodology

(Content is based on an article by Gudrun Burkhard in her book Biographical Work.)

The method of Holistic Biography Work is based on Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy. In his research of Spiritual Science Steiner describes, enhances and applies Phenomenology.

The phenomenological approach, as developed by Steiner in the footsteps of Goethe, is used in biographical work when we observe the events in a life. In order to benefit fully from the Goethean practice of observation, one needs to practise observation of oneself, as Steiner indicated in some of the lectures quoted here.

What is the purpose of this observational practice? Firstly, Steiner described imaginative cognition, where one sees a single event, a seven-year period, or one’s whole life, in a panoramic view through images, forms or colours. This view, described by Steiner as the Panorama of life, is similar to the one we have after death. Some people experience such a panoramic view when they suffer shock or an accident, in which their etheric body detaches from their physical body. Often after such an event, this person’s life will change, with the urge to take new directions. The panoramic view gained through biographical work is the first step for a person to make changes, such as redirecting their activities and setting different goals in life.

The second step relates to inspired cognition, which one obtains following the observation of the phenomena. It entails erasing the actual image that one has created, clearing one’s mind and awakening to what arises, in terms of the sounds, music, harmony and disharmony of each seven-year period. We are invited to look at what we have done so far, who we have met and what was our influence on them and theirs on us.

If we extrapolate this idea to life after death, we would be reviewing life – as we do in kamaloka – and as we do when we pass through the various planetary spheres. We would be working on our previous life and preparing for the next life at the same time.

In the field of spiritual forces, there are laws as precise as those of the physical world (such as in physics, chemistry and mathematics).

Thirdly, a spiritual researcher or an initiate such as Rudolf Steiner, besides entering into imaginative and inspired cognition also gets in touch with intuitive cognition in order to encompass all the laws relating to the evolution of the earth, cosmos, human being and spiritual beings. These spiritual laws are reflected in our biography through rhythms, mirroring or synchronicity and metamorphosis.

These laws are introduced and described in the workshops and trainings of Holistic Biography Work. The study of the laws of a biography is as deeply therapeutic as is the study of mathematics to a mind that is confused or unable to concentrate. In summary, the acquisition of a panoramic view is the first step in working with our biography. The second step is made through an understanding of how life after death is reflected in our biography, or in other words, the influence of destiny and karma. The third step is achieved through a deeper understanding of the spiritual laws which govern biography and of the ways in which certain life phases transform or reflect others, or synchronicity (acausal ordered-ness).

Life is itself a path of initiation which becomes more meaningful when it is lived in full consciousness, in a way that can be achieved through working on one’s biography.

Training Modules

The Holistic Biography Work Training Program currently consists of a Foundation Course, followed by nine Modules taken over three years. This Training Course is commencing in 2021 as an online program of 12 Modules (3 Core Modules and 9 Theme Modules), with self-paced learning over approximately 3 years.

The Training has three Parts, with each Part consisting of a Core Module and other Theme Modules.  Trainees complete all Modules, have additional Training sessions, and complete Project Work.

The projects are

Project Work is completed in the following sequence:
A Biographical Interview, a Biographical Analysis and a Biographical Study.

After participating in a Foundation Course, completing a Life Panorama Chart, and writing a letter of intent, one can start the Training. An intake interview will take place during the first Module to confirm the training place.

The modules for the onsite Training Program are below. Check our Online Training page for the online Training Program.

The Foundation Workshop

Take charge of your life
Apply the resources of Holistic Biography Work

Part 1: Biographical Keys

Developing individual awareness

Module BGT-11: Typologies
Understanding Self and others
Explore temperaments, soul types, qualities, rhythms and cycles in life

Module BBT-12: The Helping Conversation
Deep listening and empathy in encounter
Practising 3 levels and 7 qualities in helping conversations

Module BGT-13: Destiny Learning
Learning from life
Identifying karmic keys and destiny events

Part 2: Encounters

Developing social awareness

Module BGT-21: Individual and Community
Life encounters and relationships
Exploring the impact of people, places and situations

Module BGT-22: Meeting Conflict
Polarity and diversity as a developmental challenge
Understanding the forces influencing conflicts

Module BGT-23: Trials and Thresholds
Awakening to initiation through life
Reflecting on peak, abyss and transition experiences

Part 3: Guidance and Self-guidance

Developing spiritual awareness

Module BGT-31: Mission and Meaning
Life as a spiritual journey
Supporting the Self in search for meaning

Module BGT-32: Mental Health Crisis
Biography Work in learning, coaching and therapeutic settings
Understanding the spiritual structure of human frailty

Module BGT-33: 3 Ways of Learning
Learning for life, learning from life, initiation through life
Developing effective learning processes