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“You can and should create your own future. If you don’t do it yourself somebody else will take over. Your future is the place where your spend the rest of your life.“

(J.A. Baker)

Personal aspects

When did you find a seminar inspiring?

The most inspiring seminar for me was a seminar in structural constellations at the SySt Institute in Munich with Prof. Matthias Varga von Kibéd and Insa Sparer. I took part in 2004 and use many of the approaches such as systemic context exploration and solution-focused intervention. As participants, we were introduced to the psychotherapist Steve de Shazer; I still find his thoughts on targeted intervention combined with trusting in the client’s ability to solve their own problems inspiring.

How do you know when a seminar has been successful?

I am surprised and impressed when former participants tell me even years after a seminar what they learnt and understood from discussions. It’s often less to do with the theoretical content and more to do with how it can be applied in individual circumstances and the discussion about assumptions and basic beliefs.

What specialist book/article/ thought/study/model/theory has inspired you recently?

I love the theoretical premise of the ‘invisible hand’ by R.Keller (in the context of language change and communicative change).

He uses the term ‘invisible-hand process’ to describe the self-regulating processes that form the basis of communicative or cultural change. Communicative and thus cultural change processes exhibit a degree of indeterminateness over their course and in their outcome. This indeterminateness means free and random interplay of individual system components; changes are initiated and moved forward but their further progression and their results are uncertain.

Keller makes a distinction between the micro-level (the actions of people involved in the creation of the phenomenon) and the macro-level (a structure created by the micro-sphere). He describes “the causal consequence of a number of individual unintentional actions that at least in part serve similar intentions” as a phenomenon of the third kind. It is interesting that many individual actions occur that as such partly unconsciously or unintendedly contribute to the change seem to be ‘governed by an invisible hand’.

As I’m currently living in Peking, where state control plays an important role, it is really interesting to observe this phenomenon.

What talent would you like to possess?

I would like to sing and play a musical instrument. To play music together creates bonds and gives joy to both listeners and artists. My children regularly take part in music festivals where several schools come together and play music with each other. Unlike sporting events where competition and winning a trophy are important, the emphasis is on a communal final concert. The children are quite different afterwards.

On a sunny summer weekend what I most like to do …

Most of all, I like being outdoors. I find a good hike in the mountains relaxing but physically challenging at the same time.

What book/film has left a lasting impression on you?

‘The Power of Places’ by Tim Marshall explains the influence of geography on people; their values, culture and history. Understanding the important role geography plays in the geo-political development of specific regions and countries helps me see the whole picture and gives me a different perspective and understanding of countries when I’m travelling.

What invention do you think is brilliant?

The pencil is the most brilliant invention of all. You can make notes anywhere in the world, visualise something, draw pictures, add shadowing and rub things out or change them if you so desire.

What journey has left the deepest impression on you?

I have travelled widely and there are many impressive places in the world. However, I would have to say Laos and particularly Luang Prabang. The society is very influenced by Buddhism, daily life is very simple and moves along at a peaceful pace. After a few days, you yourself become incredibly peaceful without having the feeling it is being forced upon you (no one tries to convert you religiously, we didn’t take part in any ceremonies).