History and Development
Volkier Bentinck met Ita Wegman and Eurythmy therapy in 1937 in Arlesheim, initially as a patient. He himself then participated in the training during the Second World War in Ascona (Switzerland) as a follow-up to his eurythmy training.
Volkier was a misunderstood child of the noble family Bentinck. He was born in 1912 at Princenhage (near Breda) and grew up in the Hague with four brothers and two sisters. As a boy he used to skate on the palatial pond with the future Queen Juliana. His father was initially connected with the Royal Military Academy (KMA) and later became equerry at the royal court. His mother came from a merchants’ and bankers’ family from Amsterdam. An important event in his youth was an accident he suffered as a 10-year old which resulted in him having to spend almost a year in hospital and in life-long problems with his leg.
The young Volkier was a dreamer and had difficulties learning. It was hard to find a profession to suit him. He became a capable car mechanic but did not fit into that world. Encouraged by his father he was introduced as a young adult into anthroposophical circles so he could be carried and guided in his further development. Because of his interest in plants he then enrolled in a course in Biodynamic Agriculture and later he would also take images from this to illustrate his massage. The way horses were trained through whispering, as he had seen at his father’s work, may also have paved the way to the development of his massage therapy.
Due to the threat of war the beating heart of anthroposophy – Swiss Arlesheim and Dornach – moved to Ascona where they stayed for the duration of the war. Volkier moved along with them.
Ita Wegman, the righthand helper of Rudolf Steiner, the teacher of anthroposophy, was working there in her clinic ‘La Motte’ with residential children in need of special care (children with learning disabilities). In 1942 Ita Wegman unexpectedly and vigorously suggested to the 30-year-old Volkier that he should get to know and continue to develop the massage therapy she had initiated and had been practicing in an experimental fashion. She demonstrated to him in a general way how this could be done for the children there. She maintained that this would also help them in their development. She demonstrated the hand movements in a way which left him quite free. In this way she gave him an impulse which he would continue to develop throughout his long life.
Following a suggestion by Ita Wegman he also completed a training in physiotherapy during the war in order to be able to put this form of massage as described above widely into practice.
Back in the Netherlands after the war he worked, among other places, at Thomas House in Rotterdam, as well as in the Eurythmy training and with patients in his own practice in The Hague. He also spent much time in Germany and Switzerland.
An experience which was very important for his development was the intuition he received when he was in deep despair. He was wondering how, in God’s name, he could help an eight-year-old patient with severe disabilities and altogether questioned why this boy had to live in this way. Suddenly Volkier experienced two contradictory opinions in the deep darkness of his doubting. The one was: “Such treatment must be quite meaningless here”. The other was: “You would not be able to do it!” and he experienced in this child the two archetypal processes of breaking down and building up. These are the two organic processes closely connected with the processes of life and consciousness in the human being. (Bentick, Medical Massage Therapy).
There followed years of wrestling to learn how these two polar archetypal processes manifest in each patient in an individual way and to discover how he could understand and work with the underlying, general laws of ‘the living element’ in the physical human being. The aim of this influential massage was to create a more harmonious and suitable balance and thus also better health within the human being.
MariJan van Veen initially was a nurse and then trained as an art therapist at De Wervel after which she studied Art therapy according to the method of Liane Collot d’Herbois. She experienced and then also studied Volkier Bentinck’s Massage Therapy while boarding with him and his wife in the Hague in the 1970’s. She was extremely grateful for the fact that she was given this massage as it contributed to her being able to overcome the depression caused by experiences in a Japanese camp as well as by a dramatic divorce. This was the reason why MariJan put onto paper the details of this massage in collaboration with Volkier Bentinck himself before it would no longer be possible for him to do this due to his great age. The result was the unique document: Medische massagtherapie naar Volkier Bentinck, which has in the meantime been translated into German and English.
On the initiative of the physician Anne-Marie Schennink, the physiotherapists Alice van Kuilenburg and Imelda Peterse and the nurse Petra Stoutjesdijk, then all working at the Artemis Therapy Centre at Amersfoort, a study group was formed in 1998 which would result in the Volkier Bentinck massage initiative.
In collaboration with MariJan and, whenever required, with Volkier Bentick himself they researched, both practically and theoretically, the background of the VB massage therapy. The group comprised two physiotherapists, two nurse practitioners and two physicians who all had felt deeply attracted by the aspect of the two polar streams: consciousness and life. And precisely in the time of the consciousness soul in which we now live it is timely to learn to live and work more out of conscious impulses.
This working group gave rise to the training which to the present day has been offered annually in two stages (orientation course and training) in Amersfoort.
Apart from the book, facilities have been implemented to make the training and the therapy more widely known. A website was set up and brochures have been designed. In the meantime this has resulted in the fact that a group of nurses, physiotherapists and physicians have mastered and are practicing this type of treatment. In this way it has become known all over the country via the various anthroposophical therapy centres and also outside them, but also abroad, such as in Belgium and Ireland.
An application was made for this type of treatment to be considered for recognition by the Medical Section of the School of Spiritual Science in Dornach, Switzerland. At various conferences workshops have been offered which were attended with enthusiasm and interest by international professionals in the area of medicine.
The working group has been meeting once a month and on December 13th 2019 a small group of people celebrated the coming of age (21 years) of the Foundation. At the same time a beginning was made to build a new website.