Jesper Juul
  • Biography


Jesper Juul

I was born in Vordingborg, Denmark, on April 18, 1948 and spent my childhood there, as well as in Herning and Ebeltoft, in the company of my parents and my brother Peter. My free time was spent on athletics, badminton, Scouts and ornithology studies in the woods around Ebeltoft and Mols.

After graduation from Ebeltoft public school for secondary education, I was hired on Ø.K.'s CAMBODIA (East Asiatic  Company) and sailed as a server/cook's helper in the Far East. Worked thereafter as an unskilled laborer during the building of Ebeltoft Ferry Harbor, as a cement layer and then as a dishwasher, counterman and bartender at the White House Hotel.

Began in 1966 at Marselisborg teacher's college and got my teaching certificate in 1970, concentrating on history and religion. Thanks to my wonderful religion teacher - theologist Bent Schmidt Hansen - I began to study the history of European ideas on the side at Århus University in Denmark. I had Prof. Johannes Sløk as a personal adviser and thrived in the charged interaction between philosophy, politics and the history of religion. Concluded the first part of my studies with an assignment on the discussion between Martin Luther and Erasmus of Rotterdam about "The free will".

My studies were partially financed by vacation jobs as a waiter/bartender in Germany, as a reviewer of children's books in newspapers and towards the end of my studies as night watchman at the Bøgholt youth treatment center in Viby, Denmark. The latter made me realize that I thrived best with hands-on pedagogical work, and my idea of an academic career was shelved. 

Worked the following 3+ years at Bøgholt as a teacher and social worker and discovered the necessity of actively working with children's families. Met at a course the American psychiatrist and family therapist W. Kempler, M.D. and the Danish child psychiatrist Mogens A. Lund, both of whom became my teachers, therapists and friends.

Worked thereafter for nine years at the Århus Community Youth Center with groups of single mothers, along with two good colleagues from Bøgholt, and at the same time began an education in family therapy in Denmark, Holland and the USA. At the same time I began to work freelance as a group therapist and personnel trainer - the latter mainly in experimental psychiatric departments and various projects for drug addicts - supported and supervised by Dr. Mogens Lund and his wife Prof. Lis Keiser.

In 1979 we felt it was time to establish an institute with the objective of creating a truly post-graduate educational program in the type of family therapy, which Kempler had developed and described, and with him as leader). 

Due to a variety of circumstances I became leader of the Kempler Institute of Scandinavia until 2006 when I resigned in order to make space for a new generation. Since then the institute collapsed due to mismanagement and the core staff formed dfti.

Personally, I've seen it as an important part of my function to make the institute's underlying values, thoughts and experiences available both to professional groups to whom therapeutic competence traditionally is not attributed, and not least of all to laypeople – first and foremost parents.

I got married for the first time in 1971. We lived together until 1990 and had our son Nicolai in 1973.

In 1991 I married Suzana, who has her roots in Zagreb, Croatia, and, among other good things, that has led to my using about 3 months a year on volunteer work with refugees, war veterans and the post-graduate education of Croatian and Bosnian professionals, as well as serving as a leadership and development consultant for local non-governmental organizations. Suzana and I divorced in 2014.

Since 2006 I have pursued my lifelong ambition of making the principles for healthy and non-violent relationships within al kinds of families available internationally and I’m now working as Curriculum Manager within Family-lab International with branches in several countries.

In 2012 I was hit with a disabling neurological disease and was hospitalized for 18 months. I’m now (July 2014) back in my hometown in Denmark, where all my work is done on-line. I cannot travel anymore.

Copyright © Jesper Juul