Anthroposophic Psychotherapy as a Profession

Johannes Reiner

Last update: 17.08.2018

Anthroposophic psychotherapy works out of the understanding of the human being found in Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy. What distinguishes anthroposophic psychotherapy from conventional methods is the knowledge that the human being is a spiritual being, an “I” who is learning to control and guide its soul qualities of perception, thinking, feeling and willing. The soul connects with the body and acts upon it, yet is also influenced by it. The soul thus stands in an interactive relationship between body and spirit.

The “I” is intended to develop self-aware and self-determined freedom. Various psychotherapeutic techniques are used to promote the self-efficacy of the individuality.

In addition, anthroposophic psychotherapy takes into account the laws of body, soul and spirit, the course of the person’s life, the knowledge of life after death and life before birth , and specific psychosomatics regarding the interplay between body and soul, including the influence of the organs.

The title “Anthroposophic Psychotherapist” can be acquired only after completing training as a physician or psychotherapist. There is a system in place to acquire this qualification.

The diagnostic process in anthroposophic psychotherapy

In anthroposophic anthropology, every stage of life—seen in seven-year cycles—unfolds based on general physical, mental/emotional and spiritual laws. The psychotherapist’s knowledge of these cycles enables him to grasp the specific characteristics of individuals in regard to their present situation, their life’s path up to now, and their future further development.

We see that the physical changes of childhood and youth happen naturally of their own accord, the developmental possibilities of the soul in adulthood vary widely, and spiritual development is individual and depends on a person’s own initiative.

Therapeutic method

Anthroposophic psychotherapists go far beyond the mere self-experience that is called for in ordinary psychotherapy training. They are trained to see the underlying shaping and formative forces in mental/emotional phenomena, develop an understanding of how these affect physical and mental processes, and learn to promote the ability of the person to shape their own self.

Anthroposophic psychotherapists apply various psychotherapeutic techniques. Through the therapist’s conscious view of a person’s creative ability, meaningfulness, and potential for freedom, a space is created that promotes the person’s confidence in their own developmental powers. The therapist’s attitude is one of faith in the developmental powers of the individual. This fosters space for creative change and gives the client (patient) a sense that they are understood.

Active principle

The active principle of anthroposophic psychotherapy is the space for development created in the therapeutic conversation by the therapist, who is trained in promoting freedom and self-development, and who understands the working of physical, mental and spiritual aspects. The therapist’s attitude creates space for creative change and gives the client (patient) a sense of being accepted, seen and understood, while trusting his own powers of development.


There are a number of case histories in the form of therapy progressions that demonstrate how this kind of support of developmental forces works.

Further scientific studies are planned.

Research news

Mistletoe therapy in addition to standard immunotherapy in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer indicates improved survival rates 
Immunotherapy with PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors has significantly improved the survival rates of patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Results of a real-world data study (RWD) investigating the addition of Viscum album L. (VA) to chemotherapy have shown an association with improved survival in patients with NSCLC - regardless of age, degree of metastasis, performance status, lifestyle or oncological treatment. The mechanisms may include synergistic modulations of the immune response by PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors and VA. However, the results should be taken with caution due to the observational and non-randomised study design. The study has been published open access in Cancers

Further information on Anthroposophic Medicine