My Professional Story

From Medicine to Psychiatry and Family Therapy

Theo Compernolle (Bruges-Belgium 1946) graduated as a Physician at the Catholic University of Leuven and specialized at the University of Amsterdam (Neurology), the University of Leiden (Psychiatry) and at he Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic of the University of Pennsylvania (Systems Approach/Structural Family Therapy).

He got his Ph.D. at the University of Amsterdam on research about "Stress in Secondary Schools"

He was one of the pioneers of Family Therapy in Belgium , the Netherlands and France .

He worked at the Universities of Pennsylvania and Leuven .

Later he moved to the Netherlands where he worked at the Tulpenburg hospital, which merged with Amstelland and moved into the remarkable new Hospital "Triversum" in Alkmaar .

In 1989 he became a professor at the Psychiatric Department of the Free University of Amsterdam.

In his role as a department director, in Leuven and Amsterdam he managed and reorganized several departments. He started and developed three out-patient departments in several cities as greenfield operations.

He was a member of many professional organizations such as The American Orthopsychiatric Association (fellow), The American Marital and Family Therapy Association (fellow), The Society for Stress and Anxiety Research, The (Dutch) Association of Family Therapists (member and trainer), the New York Academy of Sciences etc...

He published more than a hundred articles and eight books (two best-sellers in their category).

He (co)produced several Professional Training Video-tapes.

From Psychiatry via Stress Research to Business Consulting

In 1976 he started his research on stress. The publication of his PhD thesis provoked a massive long discussion in the media and this caught the attention of the business-world, professional organizations and business schools.Hence, from 1987 on, like Alice in Wonderland, he stepped through the looking glass into the business world, to become more and more involved in training, consulting and coaching companies and managers. He started this on the subject of individual and organizational stress. His book "Stress: Friend and Foe" (Lannoo-Tielt, Scriptum-Rotterdam, 11th edition) became a best-seller among the management books in Belgium . The basics of his approach are available on two videos produced by Video Management NV/SA (a subsidiary of the Financial Times Inc.). These videos became bestsellers. In 2004 they were updated and re-edited on DVD in series of "Classics".He developed a rather unique approach to corporate stress management, that takes it out of the hands of helping professionals and researchers and puts it radically in the hands of managers. More about thisSince a lot of sources of stress are related to Management and Leadership Behavior, he became more involved in management and leadership development. Working with managers and executives, his advice was more and more sought on different emotional, irrational and relational aspects of management, especially stress in times of change, change management and the prevention and resolution of conflict at the top. He developed a special affinity for the problems of service professionals firms and family businesses.

In 1989 he became a visiting professor at the Vlerick Leuven Ghent School for Management , the business school of the Universities of Ghent and Leuven in Belgium , and later he became an Adjunct Professor-at-large at the INSEAD in France and Suez Chair in Leadership and Personal Development at the Solvay Business School in Brussels.

When consultants at some of the major consulting firms discovered that their (succession) projects with Family Businesses regularly failed due to family conflicts, they involved him in their consulting to family businesses. Together with Arthur Andersen and later Deloitte and Touche he developed the "Family Business Scan" (in Dutch).

Based on these experiences he wrote the book "How to be Successful as a Family with a Business" , the first book in Dutch on this subject (Lannoo , Belgium /RDU, Netherlands ).

His consulting, training and executive coaching evolved in so many fascinating directions, that it was no longer possible to combine this with his duties at the university and as head of a department at the hospital. Therefore, after ten very interesting and productive years, he left the Free University of Amsterdam at the end of 1999 to devote himself full time to the subject of management and leadership development.