Activities offered:

1. Training in Biographical Counselling
Year One: Biographical Counselling Skills for Social Professions

2. Contributions to other Training courses

3. Workshops and seminars on themes related to Biography Work and Biographical Counselling

4. Individual Biographical Counselling


We live in a time when outer supports and securities are falling away while the inner dimensions of reality come into daily consciousness. As a result, increasing numbers of people live with existential questions that no other generation has had to face with the same intensity. In the course of our lives, many of us confront events, uncertainties and moral dilemmas that leave us feeling lonely, bewildered and confused.  We may lose our connection to others, to ourselves and to the source of our own potential. 

These experiences call for the awakening of a new consciousness. They challenge us to enter into dialogue with our life, in order to get in touch with our truth and find renewed confidence and creativity for the future. 

Biographical Counselling aims to help people in life crises build new strength to meet the challenges that life presents them with. It takes the psychological, social and spiritual dimensions of reality equally into account. It works with the past, present and future, understanding that the past and future reach far beyond one particular lifetime.  This provides the basis for the biographical counsellor to create a space in which the richness and totality of human life can be worked with and affirmed in such a way as to liberate new forces for growth and development.

Biographical Counselling works at the border of healing and development.  It is based on the understanding that many of the questions and struggles that we meet in our individual lives are at the same time the developmental questions of our time. It works towards social renewal by helping people to read the language of their own life story – the questions and tasks that their biography presents them with – knowing that when this is done, a contribution is made to the whole of humanity.

Anthroposophy, a science of the spirit, was founded and developed by the Austrian philosopher, scientist and spiritual researcher Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). It offers a path of inner activity that leads to self-knowledge and the development of faculties of perception needed to serve others in their development.  It awakens an understanding of the human being and the nature of the human encounter, the laws of biography and the challenges in individual development today. This informs and inspires the Training in Biographical Counselling.

The Training in Biographical Counselling takes place over 3 years with three distinct stages:





FOUNDATIONS and BIOGRAPHICAL COUNSELLING SKILLS form Year 1: Biographical Counselling Skills for Social Professions

This is a course complete in itself, providing social and health professionals with Biographical Counselling skills for their personal and professional development. It is also a foundation for further professional training to become a Biographical Counsellor.

YEAR 2 & 3


Year 2: Biographical Counselling as a Path of Development

Year 3: Biographical Counselling as a Vocation

Elements that run through the whole training

  • Lectures, seminars and study
  • Facilitated and supervised work with one’s own biography in small groups and in counselling skills and counselling practice
  • Artistic activities
  • Personal development groups
  • Schooling of consciousness and awakening to a path of inner development
  • Ethical and professional questions of counselling
  • Regular assessment and tutorials
  • Supervision and research
  • Presentations of practice experiences, research and case studies



  • Biographical Counselling in relation to the awakening of a new consciousness
  • Life Crisis and the nature of the ‘Consciousness Soul’
  • The nature and constitution of the human being
  • The psychological and spiritual challenges that arise from the crossing of the spiritual threshold in our time
  • Understanding the forces of creation and destruction in the human soul
  • The nature and aim of working with biography
  • Researching human life as a foundation for Biographical Counselling
  • Understanding human biography as a development path
  • The rhythms and cycles of human development
  • The laws of karma and reincarnation


  • Basic attitudes, faculties and ethics of biographical counselling
  • The nature and process of dialogue
  • A phenomenological approach to working with experience
  • Biographical Counselling skills in relation to the qualities of the 7 planets
  • The human encounter and the dynamics of the helping relationship
  • Couple conversation*
  • Working with life events and biographical counselling skills in different contexts
  • The inner development path of the Biographical Counsellor

*This theme is frequently offered as an open course as well as a training module.

Biographical Counselling Skills for Social Professions is comprised of 3 weeks and 9 weekends and runs over one year, with approximately 245 contact hours. To complete this module students are required to submit a 3000 word biographical study of a known personality and give an oral presentation to students and tutors.
On the successful completion of this year and the training requirement a Certificate in Biographical Counselling Skills is awarded.





Human emotions and feelings The forces of creation and destruction

Feminine and masculine
Working with inner and outer thresholds

·             Karma and Psychology

Cycles of social interaction in biographical development
The impact of early childhood on the development of individuality

·             Working with process in Biographical Counselling

Working with biography in a counselling process
The process of Biographical Counselling as a path of development, awakening in the counsellor new faculties of perception
Working with homework and creative exercises in biographical counselling

·             Questions of profession

Ethics, boundaries, contract, record keeping, supervision, etc.
The nature of the counsellor/client relationship

·            Questions of Healing and Development in our Time

The history of the profession of counselling Comparative models of counselling and their relation to Biographical Counselling Illnesses of our times, i.e., stress, burn-out, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, trauma and disassociation, personality disorders*

How medical doctors and Biographical Counsellors can work together out of a consideration of the primary focus of their respective professions*    

* These themes are frequently offered as open courses as well as training modules.

BIOGRAPHICAL COUNSELLING AS A PATH OF DEVELOPMENT is comprised of 3 weeks, 8 weekends and one extended weekend and runs throughout one year, approximately 260 contact hours.

  • The aims, practice and process of Biographical Counselling
  • Biographical counselling in different settings
  • The process and practice of research
  • Questions of profession
  • The therapeutic relationship
  • Supervision groups for research and counselling practice
  • The inner gesture and spiritual path of biographical counselling
  • Presentations of case studies and research papers
  • Talks and seminars including and arising out of participants’ research presentations and the questions and experience gained in their paths of development and practice.


Training Requirements

YEAR 2: Biographical Counselling As A Path Of Development

To complete this module students are required to:

  • Undertake personal counselling/psychotherapy;
  • Arrange placements and opportunities for practice of biographical counselling, keep a record of their experiences, and be in regular supervision;
  • Write a 3000-4000 word essay on biographical counselling in relation to other schools of counselling/psychotherapy.

YEAR 3: Biographical Counselling As A Vocation

  • Complete all the training modules and requirements 
  • Complete a minimum of 650 training hours
  • Have 40 hours of personal counselling/psychotherapy
  • Work with Biographical Counselling for a minimum of 125 practice hours with at least 6 different clients (minimum of 6 hours each), keep a record of one’s practise and be in regular supervision for one’s work, minimum 1 supervision session to 6 client hours
  • Have an individual assessment with tutors of readiness to complete
  • Write up a case study, minimum 3000 words, give a detailed presentation to students and tutors and be supervised on ones work by students and tutors
  • Hand in a written research project, 4000 – 5000 words, on an aspect of Biographical Counselling and give an oral presentation to students and tutors

A Certificate of Completion in Biographical Counselling is awarded on the successful completion of all training modules and requirements.

To receive a Diploma students are required to: 

  • Have a minimum of 300 practice hours
  • Have a minimum of 40 supervision hours
  • Have worked with a minimum of 12 different clients (minimum of 6 sessions each)

A Diploma in Biographical Counselling is awarded when these further hours of practice and supervision are achieved.

The Training in Biographical Counselling conforms to the guidelines for such a training as agreed by the General Anthroposophical Section of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland. On successfully completing all modules and course requirements students will receive a statement to this effect on their certificate/diploma.

Training Entry Requirements

  • To have a good command of spoken and written English
  • To have a social profession or experience in a profession working with people
  • and have a professional or degree level qualification or equivalent life experience
  • To be 27 years or over
  • To submit a written account of one’s own biography according to guidelines and questions given, 1500 – 3000 words
  • To attend an interview
  • To be willing to work with one’s own biography in small groups and in practice counselling sessions

Preparatory Reading

  • Taking Charge-Your Life Patterns & Their Meanings , G.Burkhard, Floris Press
  • Conversations on Counselling , Lefebure, M., T&T Clark Ltd
  • How to Know Higher Worlds, R. Steiner, R.S. Press
  • Man on the Threshold, B. Lievegoed, Hawthorn Press
  • Phases of Childhood, B. Lievegoed, Floris Books
  • Phases, Crisis and Development in the Individual, B. Lievegoed, R.S. Press

Course Director: 

Margli Matthews, PG Dip. Couns, Dip. Biographical Counselling, MBACP (accred), UKRC Reg. Ind. Couns, Cert. Supervision, CAHSC Registered is a biographical counselor, trainer and supervisor with over 25 years experience in adult education and private practice. A former faculty member of Emerson College and the Centre for Social Development, she is co-founder of the Biography and Social Development Trust and has many years’ experience in designing and running the Training in Biographical Counselling. She leads training courses and workshops and teaches in many courses and conferences throughout the world. She is a contributor to Lifeways and co-author of Ariadne’s Awakening, a book concerned with a new consciousness of the feminine and masculine principles in our lives.

Course Staff:

Ileana Botero, Dip. Biographical Counselling;
Cristina D’ Agostino
, Dip. Biographical Counselling, PG Dip. Couns;
Pauline Marksteiner
, Cert. Biographical Counselling, RGN; Vera Mensinga, Dip. Biographical Counselling, Dipl.Psych, UKCP Transpersonal Psychotherapist;
George Perry
, MCFM, Dip. Conflict Res. &  Mediation;
Valerie Sands
, Dip. Biographical Counselling, Dip. Psychodynamic Couns  MBACP (accred.)
Susanna Odlin, Certificate Biographical Counselling

External Consultant


Anita Charton


Dipl.Psych, M.A. Psychology, Dip. Biographical Counselling, is co-founder of the Biography and Social Development Trust and has many years’ experience directing the Training in Biographical Counselling.

In addition, a number of other counsellors/psychotherapists as well as medical doctors, consultants and artists contribute to the training out of their professional experience.

For more information write to:
Margli Matthews, [email protected]

For an application form in PDF format please click here


2) Contributions to other Trainings


More and more leaders of professional training courses, such as painting therapy, eurythmy, creative speech, creative writing, teacher training, story telling and adult education, recognise that their participants need a deeper understanding of the laws of human biography – how they are expressed in their own lives as well as in the lives of the people that they will work with in their profession.

Trainers and Course Leaders working from the Biography and Social Development Trust have gained much experience over a number of years in making such contributions in a lively and practical way with the aim of increasing an awareness of life’s underlying issues, the dynamics of human relationships and skills for the human encounter. They are available to make contributions in a variety of ways which can be tailored to the needs and requirements of the particular training.

For further information contact:

Margli Matthews
[email protected]

January – February 2008

Bringing Language to Life A Six Week Course in Creative Writing and Speaking

Emerson College

This course will include a regular contribution on: Speaking and Listening in the Archetypal Modes of the Seven Planets, including working with planetary masks.

February 2008

Ongoing Training in Biography and Social Art
Sunbridge College, USA

A one week module on: Biographical Counselling Skills and the Planets

July 26 – 29, 2008

Waldorf Collaborative Counselling Training
Antioch University, USA

Counselling as a Response to the Birth of a New Consciousness

The aim of this module is to deepen the understanding of the nature of our times and the forces we meet at the threshold of our own development and in our work with others. This is the ground from which we can develop the faculties and attitudes needed to help others.
This course will focus on:

The challenges and development conditions of our time that we experience in the events of our time and in our personal biographies

The awakening of a new consciousness of spirit realities in both our outer and inner life.

Understanding and working with human biography as a development path

Each day there will be talks and conversations on the theme, artistic and observation work, and biographical exercises to foster an exploration of the theme.


3. Workshops and seminars on themes related to Biography Work and Biographical Counselling September 2007 – September 2008



7 – 9 December
Mood Disorders: Mountains and Abysses of the Mind
Course Leaders: Dr. Annejet Rumke and Natalie Peters

Venue: Emerson College, East Sussex, UK

This weekend will provide an opportunity for biographical counsellors, therapists and other professional caregivers to become more deeply acquainted with the realm of mood disorders. We will examine the phenomena and symptoms of depression and mania, and the fascinating interweaving of this polarity as manifest in bipolar disorder. Exploring the subject from both mainstream and anthroposophical perspectives, we will consider various types of mood disorder, their causes and treatment on various levels (physiological, soul, ego). Talks on the theme, artistic exercises, case studies and experience sharing will all contribute to an increased understanding of mood disorders and the challenges they pose for both patient and therapist. Participants are invited to bring cases from their own practices.

For an application form in PDF format please click here



25 – 29 March
The Art of Listening and the Way of the Counselor

Course Leader: with Michael Lipson

Venue: Emerson College, East Sussex, UK

What is it to help another person?  What is healing?  These questions grow stronger when we begin to wonder over related questions.  What is a person at all?  What is the body and our connection to it?  What are “problems”?  What is the goal of a human life?  What is speech?  What is death?  What is it to listen? No amount of study can answer such questions definitively.  Still, through group and individual work we can deepen the way in which we ask them.  This deepening — also known as meditation — is the help we ourselves need as counselors.

This weeklong course will offer a provisional overview of the structure of human consciousness and the nature of healing.    It will include listening exercises and intensive, theme-based meditation in a communal atmosphere.

Michael Lipson is the author of “Stairway of Surprise: Six Steps to a Creative Life,” as well as numerous articles on meditation and psychotherapy. He is the translator of R. Steiner’s “Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path: A Philosophy of Freedom,” and of several books by G. Kuehlewind. He has a private psychotherapy practice in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, USA.

For an application form in PDF format please click here


11 – 13 April
Understanding the Incomprehensible: The Influence of Trauma In Biographical Development

Course Leaders: Annejet Rumke and Natalie Peters

Venue: Emerson College, East Sussex, UK

This workshop is a training module for people in training to become Biographical Counsellors. It is also an open course for social/therapeutic professionals and others who want to further their understanding of the impact of trauma in biographical development and the ways and means of working with people who have suffered trauma in their life.

The weekend will focus on the different forms of trauma and their consequences in biographical development. Phenomenon such as coping strategies, disassociation and borderline personality will be discussed. These questions will be considered from the point of view of anthroposophical medical knowledge and biographical counselling. We will build a picture of the different approach of the doctor and the counsellor and how the two can support and complement each other to help people in their path of development and healing. There will be case studies and artistic exercises to enable participants to integrate and deepen their understanding of trauma. There will also be time for participants to bring case studies and questions out of their own professional experience.

Dr. Annejet Rumke is a medical doctor who specialises in constitutional and psychiatric problems. Alongside her medical practice she also offers both biographical counselling and psychotherapy. Annejet has been a regular contributor to the Training in Biographical Counselling in the UK and she teaches psychiatry in courses and institutions in both Holland and Russia.

Natalie Peters is an art therapist in private practice. She worked for many years in curative and social/therapeutic communities. Together with Annejet Rümke she offers training courses and has developed an intensive form of group therapy that combines psychotherapy and artistic expression.

For an application form in PDF format please click here


Date: 16 – 18 May 2008
Caring for Relationships: The Art of Dialogue Course Leaders: Wolfgang Drescher, Cordula Falt and Margli Matthews

Venue: Emerson College

To begin a relationship is easy – but to keep it alive and growing is hard work. Relationships ask to be developed, but so often conflicts, misunderstandings, and lack of communication block this possibility. We clearly need more than good will if we are to foster and care for our relationships.

This workshop aims to explore different ways of caring for partnerships and the individuals in partnerships. One of the main activities of the weekend will be to introduce a unique way of working together for couples and partners – a method of couple conversation known as “Zwiegespräch” which fosters mutual understanding, self awareness and the further development of both the individuals and their relationship.

The workshop is open to couples, single people with questions about relationship and people in social/therapeutic professions who want to develop their capacities to work with partnership questions.

Course Leaders:

Wolfgang Drescher is a social worker and counsellor with many years experience working with both individuals and couples. He runs courses for couples and works in and with the Institute for Anthroposophical Psychotherapy in Germany.

Cordula Falt is a psychologist and psychotherapist. She trains therapists in the Graduate Course for Relationship Therapy and in the Post-graduate course for Anthroposophical Psychotherapy in Germany and Russia.

Margli Matthews, MBACP (Accred), PG Dip Couns, Diploma Biographical Counsellor, is a Biographical Counsellor, Trainer and Supervisor with many years’ experience in private practice and adult education. She is director of the Training in Biographical Counselling and co-founder of the Biography and Social Development Trust.

For an application form in PDF format please click here

For more information write to:
[email protected]


4) Individual Biographical Counselling

see practicing biographical counsellors