A Participative Webinar with Bernhard Holtrop
Bernhard Holtrop was an internal change consultant when he started using dialogue in his work in 1999. Since 2002 Bernhard has worked with consulting firms using dialogue in two very different worlds. He facilitates dialogues in the social field: helping connect, heal and create a new perspectives in tensioned, ethnically split neighborhoods, providing healing programs for the homeless and addicted. And he conducts personal leadership and organizational development programs in the corporate world.
Bernhard deepened his knowledge of dialogue and learned about the healing aspects of it through Phil Lane Jr., a hereditary Chief of the White Swan Dakotas. He met Phil while working as a facilitator of a large conference in 2002. Phil had spent his life healing addictions and facilitating reconciliation processes among indigenous people.
By a twist of fate, an ancestor of Phil’s had written a book about the similarities between the ideas of Jung and Bohm as compared to Native traditions. This gave Phil a perspective -touching on the universality of both. Phil became Bernhard’s teacher and coach.
Much of Bernhard’s work now reflects the wisdom of indigenous people, for example, the use of nature for healing, a talking stick for dialogue, a drum and chanting to build a sense of community. The largest lesson indigenous thinking taught him was to realize, ‘I can only bring people to where I have been myself.’
Bernhard personally experienced how much dialogue invoked the ‘healing inner dialogue,’ by reflecting on and integrating the deep processes inside himself. Bernhard says, “I like to witness the similarities between the social field and the corporate world. Whether you are homeless or wearing a fancy suit, when things get difficult people eventually look for a safe place to become aware of and heal the fears which lie beyond the initial emotion. I hold the ground, have compassion for what is there, and let it unfold.”
One of the applications of this learning was The Hero Outdoor Training Challenge. A powerful and innovative leadership program for (young) men in social healthcare, often with a background of detention and addiction. The Challenge focuses on regaining strength and belief in oneself through creating a safe container in which the participants face their shadows and make a clean start. The program is inspired by the initiation rituals of ancient cultures that transition young men from childhood into adulthood. Bernhard expresses gratitude to his business partner, Rijk Smitskamp, that he could help to develop this program.