Dr. Claartje van Sijl

As a counselor and trainer I guide academics in gaining purpose, direction, balance and confidence. My approach stretches beyond the academic life: I also look at personal struggles. Over the past ten years, I have worked with hundreds of academics, helping them to bridge reason with their heart’s intent.

I hold a PhD in Philosophy and wrote my thesis on Stoic philosophy and the exegesis of myth (Utrecht University 2010). I have first-handedly experienced what a great and at the same time harsh place academia can be.

I use various counseling methods, varying from a Socratic approach to problem solving, to Working Soft, an innovative way of using time and energy. I am thrilled when I see academics moving forward harmoniously again, being able to embrace their best possible self and to reinforce both their work and personal life.

Selection of clients

Claartje’s knowledge of and personal experience with the academic environment, and with doing a PhD in particular, absolutely adds value. I first came to her with a lot of vague questions about my career. Wether or not to continue in science? What is the right choice?
Because of her open, inviting and friendly attitude I found space to think and associate freely. Claartje offered me a clear mirror and asked tingling questions that really stimulated me to think. Without directing she encouraged me to get insight in my real question. I enjoyed her simple, concrete exercises, which were very effective. Now I can say with confidence and calm: this is who I am, this is what I can do. And this I am not, (yet) and this I cannot (yet) do, and that is okay.

Claartje helped me through a big transitional time in my academic career. She helped me realize the big picture, that I needed to think about my career more broadly than simply as a topic of study. At first this made me question my career choices even more, but as time went on I was able to see things in a more comprehensive way.  After the Postdoc Career Intervention I had a much better understanding of my own interests, what I need to do to be happy with my work, and how to do it in a more effective manner.

After a bad postdoc experience, I was unhappy to be back in the Netherlands and I was now literally stuck in a job which gave me no fulfillment. I wanted to work in research again, become a mentor or group leader, and ideally in a country in which I am living close to the city, but more importantly, up-close with nature. I was searching for scientific jobs, but I was not successful to find such a role.

Claartje has been a good listener. She provided a lot of guidance, not only professionally or work-related but much more. She was also not afraid to critique my (negative) behaviour and thinking at times. She taught me how to change my thinking (and therefore situation) around by changing my own perspectives.

With Claartje’s help I became more confident. I was able to narrow down what was really important for me. New possibilities started to arise. Before the end of Claartje’s coaching I accepted a job as senior research fellow. I will also live abroad again in the very near future. All in all, I am very grateful for her help!

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