Systemic counseling is on the rise.
Rooted in family therapy, systemic counseling is inspired by system theoretic principles that recently developed simultaneously in diverse disciplines such as biology, physics, psychology, mechanics, and sociology. These principles have transformed traditional ways of counseling and therapy and are increasingly influencing the classic therapeutic schools that are still adhered to very strictly in Germany. However, although systemic counseling and therapy is evidence-based and effective, it is not yet integrated into the German health care system. And this means, that it has to be paid for privately, whereas several other therapy forms are covered by German health insurance (although only for individuals, not for couples, families and teams).
Systemic counseling does not view human behavior as an isolated result of their inner qualities and traits, but as something that is very strongly linked to relationships and social environment. Thus,systemic counseling is very useful in working with several persons at the same time (such as several family members), but it is also extremely helpful for individuals. Systemic counseling helps clients to expand their range of perception and behavior. Systemic counselors are tuned to the context of clients seeking assistance and hold their resources and their autonomy in high regard. They aim at a respectful dialogue at eye level with their clients.
The way I work.
Practitioners interpret and conduct their work in many different ways. I find the following "ingredients"
particularly valuable and helpful in my counseling practice:
Solution focus. When we begin the counseling process, we take time to form a sound joint agreement on the issues at hand and the goals we want to achieve together. Depending on your concerns and topics, different kinds of interventions and counseling formats may be suitable. Then, together, we set out for finding individual solutions and new perspectives. I make sure that I stay attuned to the needs of my clients, for instance by doing regular interim checks if we are on the right track. My emphasis is on your self-discovery, interpretation, conflict resolution, and life approach.
Respect and unconditional acceptance. Every human being goes through phases of frustration, feeling stuck, sad, angry or helpless. I take the problems of my clients seriously, but I do not only see the problem. I want to see the whole person, a human being like myself, in his or her individuality and with his or her strengths. My perspective is only one of many, and the "one truth" does not exist. Therefore, I emphasize a warm and accepting approach, while "condescending counseling" is unthinkable for me.
Creativity, curiosity, and humor. Times can be tough, but laughing, dreaming and experimenting should not be outlawed. Not all new ideas should be put into practice. But sometimes, inspiration comes from unusual sources. Systemic counseling (as I understand it) helps individuals to accept reality, to change adversity, to achieve more clarity about their own capabilities and goals and, ultimately, to advance toward a heightened acceptance and understanding of self. How? With out-of-the-box perceptions, with unorthodox questions, with manifold field-tested interventions and with great respect for the individual life path of each person.
Extensive information on systemic counseling is abundant. If you speak German, I recommend the best German book on systemic counseling written by Arist von Schlippe/ Jochen Schweitzer („Lehrbuch der systemischen Therapie und Beratung I. Das Grundlagenwissen“) and also the Homepage of the German Association for Systemic Therapy, Counseling, and Family Therapy (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Systemische Therapie, Beratung und Familientherapie/ DGSF):
If you are looking for English information, I suggest the website of the UK Association for Family therapy and systemic practice: