A Link in the Chain by Eugene Heimler

Dr Eugene Heimler developed an innovative and unique form of psychotherapy, the Heimler Method of Social Functioning, which has enabled countless individuals to find meaning and new direction in their lives and turn frustration and disengagement into creativity and involvement. Peter Hudson provides a very personal review of Dr Heimler’s account of some of the experiences that helped mould his now widely used counselling techniques.


A Link in the Chain by Eugene Heimler

Eugene Heimler, known as John Heimler in the UK, was a survivor of Auschwitz. He was also my therapist and mentor for eighteen months. A Link in the Chain is part of John’s autobiography and describes his journey from Auschwitz after liberation, via his native Hungary to London where he eventually trained as a psychiatric social worker.   He ‘invented’ a new way of counselling/listening which can be immensely motivational when adapted to a whole range of settings and a whole range of people – including school students and school teachers.

John worked with unemployed people and mentally ill people in the UK, Canada and the United States, teaching his new methods at several universities and other institutions throughout Europe and the UK.

A Link in the Chain is a record of John’s determination to overcome the effects of the concentration camps in his life thereafter. It is no accident that another of his books describing his counselling and listening methods is called Survival in Society. These skills, which put the ‘client’ very much in the driving seat, have been taught to people in many caring and educational professions. His work and life have inspired many others to apply, develop and teach his highly motivational methods to a range of different situations.

An example is The Motivated Learning Trust which teaches a version of John’s listening skills to secondary school teachers in the UK and many International Schools throughout the world. This training, together with the application of the Student Motivation Questionnaire, will be offered more widely under the aegis of Consilium Education.

A Link in the Chain is often harrowing but it is also inspiring and even funny from time to time. That a man could go through so much, overcome the effects of the horrors of the camps and go on to help so many to overcome the problems of theirs lives, is remarkable. I was once talking to him, having just read A Link in the Chain. I said I felt ashamed going on about my puny little problems having just read about his in the camps. He said ‘My problems are my problems, your problems are your problems.’ I’ve never forgotten it.

Peter Hudson is a founder member of the Motivated Learning Trust and works closely with Consilium Education. His training, which focuses on the development of staff listening skills, supports counselors, school leaders and teachers in their work with young people.


May 2015


A Link in the Chain by Eugene Heimler

Published in English by Miriam B Heimler (11 Dec 2013); ISBN-10:0991291638



Feature Image: analogicus from Pixabay

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