This week, we spoke with Carla Van Walsum Ph.D., a Holistic Psychology & Transformational Coaching who kindly agreed to an interview with Mystic Mag, where she discovered how her career began, what services she offers, and how she maintains a good relationship with her customers.
When did you first know that being a Holistic Psychologist and Transformational Coaching was your calling and how did it come about?
Growing up in the Netherlands, the Holocaust affected me deeply.
90% of the Dutch Jews have been murdered, who lived already for 500 years or so in the Netherlands and were fully integrated. Most people were poor, some were wealthy. The incredible actions of Germans, who were seen at that time as the most educated and civil country in Europe, committed heinous and calculated systematic hate crimes that brought out the worst (and sometimes the best, the ones that risked their lives and lively hood to help) in many people.
The systematic calculation to eradicate people, based on prejudice, inherited antisemitic fables, blamed for whatever, and the continuity of scape-coating Jews that already happened for many centuries (thousands were burned at the stake before together with the “witches”) although Dutch Jews were part of society, mostly having humbly professions, no access to college granted for many years. That’s the story of my family.
The big question I was raised with: How can people do this to people who lived among them and didn’t do harm? How could so many people – out of fear or other reasons – just be so calculated and create so much cruelty? Not only in murdering, but in creating tremendous suffering as well.
I saw how hard it was for the survivors and their offspring to find purpose in life. How the saying “Time heals all wounds” was just an empty phrase.
I noticed that the second generation, the generation after, was burdened and had lots of effects that we today call “epigenetics” – emotional inheritance, and transgenerational trauma.
Depression. Anxiety. Failed relationships. Suicide. Early death. And more. Just not thriving.
Moreover, how could survivors who returned from the death camps who have not gotten their hidden children, homes, cherished stuff like table silver, grandpa’s watches, etc. back find trust back in humanity? When your friends, your neighbors, are turning their backs on you, how can you feel respect, love, and above all trust – ever for anybody again? Let alone the army of holocaust deniers today.
Long story short – I felt my purpose in life was to help stand up for injustice. To try what I could do to make the world a little nicer. But how? Being a spokesperson for Amnesty International as a 20-year-old college student in Amsterdam demonstrating for South American causes, when Palestinians joined the march and added: “Death to the Jews'” totally irrelevant to the cause we were demonstrating for, I was deeply shocked, and my “upline” in A.I. did not take a stand against this virulent hate spewed in Amsterdam. I left the organization. Deeply disappointed. As kids, my mom had let us write letters for prisoners who were supported by Amnesty. Imagine, all she had lost, to be aware of the needs of the suppressed elsewhere in the world…
Psychology as a profession was my dream. My dad found me too “sensitive”. he wouldn’t pay for it, and in Holland, there’s no scholarship if you are not on a minimum wage level. So I became a classical flutist. I had that talent. Music lifts people up. But only temporarily. And it is not healing. While having a very successful career, I was not satisfied and felt I was in the wrong place. I started to study psychology when I was 27. Then I could afford it myself.
Over time I studied psychology while giving concerts and classes. I became a mom when I was 35, and I took that very job seriously.
When I finished my psychology studies, I was looking for methods that could really heal people, on a deep level. Talk- therapy is insightful, but I was very interested in the subconsciousness, and that is not really accessible in talk therapy sessions.
As Freud believed that most mental illnesses emanated from subconsciousness, I felt something similar but I thought that all injustices implemented by parents who transmit their unhealed stuff to their children, and teachers often do the same. In my search, I stumbled upon a method that became very popular in the 80’ies in Europe, developed by German psychotherapist Bert Hellinger. It’s called Systemic Family Constellations. (No, NOT about stars…)
Attending those workshops blew my mind. I found here a method that shows the impact of entanglements in families, the emotional inheritance of traumas by war as the biggest of all. The effects of unhealed or unrecognized trauma, murder, incest, stillborn children, arranged marriage, etc can be reverberating through generations. For instance, success in relationships, in work, in so much.
This method shows laser-sharp where it is coming from, and then healing can begin. Uncover, acknowledge, heal, acceptance.
Today the science of epigenetics shows that if you have a parent with PTSD, as a child you have 3 times as much chance to have the symptoms of PTSD.
What services do you offer?
I offer private sessions for individuals, couples, and families, as well as workshops. I also have a wonderful package where all modalities are used: A Roadmap for Self-Discovery and Building Loving, Lasting Relationships.
How is trauma affecting us, and what is required to alleviate symptoms and potentially completely “break free” from its shackles?
In addition to our own possibly traumatic experiences, we might carry an inherited trauma (anything that is not acknowledged but suppressed or ignored), but we also inherit resilience. Staying stuck in a victim mode blocks healing, and the healthiest path is the one that gears toward becoming a victor.
Requirements to break free – as you say – are courage, intention, and an open heart and mind. (which can already be very difficult!)
What can a person expect from your therapies and coaching sessions?
Insights, empowerment, growth, peace of mind, healing of their heart, and great relationships! I teach also Connecting Communication (Nonviolent Communication) which is extremely helpful to avoid trauma and helps to peacefully resolve conflicts – which is often very hard for many traumatized people.
What is the most important detail in maintaining a relationship of mutual trust with customers?
Wonderful question! Honesty. Respect. Compassion. I also do not call them “patients” (because they are not sick) – I refer to them as “clients”.
What do you love most about your profession?
I love experiencing a deep connection, and seeing that they often change aspects of their lives making themselves happier.
I don’t let them call me a doctor, although I have 2 PhDs – I truly love the human connection and have the most wonderful clients.
It really feels satisfying knowing that my “tools” can help other people to be happier.
I truly believe that raising people with compassion and love without being overly critical and healing their core wounds can bring the best out of them. I think we live in an awesome time, where so much more opportunity for emotional healing is possible.