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Systemic Diagnosis & Coaching

Under Construction

Are you entangled in difficult relationships or painful emotions? Do you suffer from old trauma? Do you suffer from your parents' drama, your partner's demands, your boss's moods? Soulwork Systemic Solutions can help you untangle your life ... and you can help other people reclaim their freedom.

Systemic Relationship Diagnosis Paradox

Dysfunctional people can cause confusion and chaos in their relationship systems.

Dysfunctional relationship systems can cause psychological symptoms in their members.

  • If a helping professional perceives psychological disorders as within an individual, subsequent diagnosis and treatment will focus on the individual.
  • If a helping professional perceives psychological disorders as within a relationship system, subsequent diagnosis and treatment will focus on the relationship system.

There is no standard classification system to assess relationship health. This restricts the training of helping professionals and their ability to assist people who want to change relationships.

Instead of proven models - many helping professionals rely on their biography, intuition and unproven psycho-theologies. Many others ignore the subjective experience of relationships, and the emotions that they produce. Relationships are often considered to be black boxes that cannot be opened.

The structure of human relationship systems cannot be fully derived from observations by one member, hence complete evaluation would include analysis of all relationship behavior between all system members (by which time the relationship behavior will have changed). However, subjective descriptions of relationship systems can assist helping professionals to offer informed choices.

Prior to the integration of systems thinking with relationship coaching, the analysis of human relationships was time-consuming and statistical in nature. Systemic coaching focuses on the subjective experience, history and goals of the people in relationships.

Computerized Relationship Diagnosis

The following model is over-simplified but predicts relationship behavior and consequences.

Family Diagnosis - Systemic Matrix (Family Map)

Imagine that you are standing in the center of a square - looking north (towards the top)
  1. Which direction is your future (where do you sense your expectations?)
  2. Which direction is your past (where do you sense your memories?)
  3. Insert family members in the sequence below
  4. Indicate who is alive - who is dead - who is missing

Note: Some people may seem to have more than one position, some people may overlap or blend and some people may overlap or feel inside you.

  A B C D E F G Name:  
1               Age:  
2               Sex:  

Some Important People

  1. Biological parents
  2. Adopted parents
  3. Grandparents
  4. Siblings
  5. Current partner
  6. Past partners
  7. Children
  8. Abortions & Suicides


^ ME


The use of spatial representations of family members offers possibilities for recognizing the emotional basis of behavioral patterns.

This part of the Soulwork diagnostic model can be used to elicit interpersonal patterns, either by one or several members individually or as a task. The subjective recognition of placement is gaining recognition as a coaching tool, popularized by Bert Hellinger under the name family constellations.

Family Matrix Example
  A B C D E F G

The locations of family members can approximate subjective reality.

A coach can use this to focus attention and find relevant details.

This information provides part of one phase of systemic diagnosis.

A systemic matrix can be used to explain and predict relationship behavior of individuals in relationship systems.

The full methodology used in this assessment is taught in Soulwork Systemic Coach Training.

1       ^ FUTURE      
2         Sister's husband    
3     Sister Mother of mother Dead mother Mother's abortion  
4   Mother of father Daughter

^ ME

First partner    
5   Father of father Father Abortion Present partner    
6       Brother      
8       PAST V      

Predictions (Incomplete)

Based on the information entered, we would expect !NAME (!SEX; !AGE) to ...

  • Relationship with father - (!RESULT1A)
  • Relationship with mother - - (!RESULT2A)
  • Relationship with partner - - (!RESULT3A)
  • Relationship with children - - (!RESULT4A)

Interpretation & Limitations

Systemic behavior and symptoms are not contained in individuals but are features of relationships. For example, if a co-dependent couple separate, one or both partners may commence new codependent relationships.

This internet diagnosis is limited. Even with good intentions and truthfulness, people bias their responses. There is more freedom to position the first people than the last. Some positions are constrained by the number of spaces. Geometric constraints force people to decide who is closer to whom ni only two dimensions - and some people may not want to compare degrees of intimacy.

[ Relationship Diagnosis ] [ Relationship Bonds ]

Evaluate Human Systems

A complex system of interdependent people can be defined in terms of its members, the rules and behavior of those members and the emergent behavior of the system. Although the number of potential linear and nonlinear differences in human systems is unknowable, the system (all members together) shows predictable, emergent, system-wide behaviors.

A subset of characteristics relevant to evaluating a human system include:

  • Behavior between members changes
  • Emergent - inputs and outputs change over time
  • Entanglements - unconscious confusion about identity, role or responsibility
  • Environment - members' respond to changing external influences
  • Scale independent - similar patterns appear at many levels of hierarchy
  • Transformative - internal and external factors may change

Members of a complex system do not relate in simple logical patterns, but with in interlocking, irregular areas of influence. Multidimensional relationships make it difficult to analyze a human system. Descriptions of a system can include relationships with families, friends, religious groups, communities, parent-teacher associations & etc.

  • Multiple levels: the interactions of individuals, dyads, triads and sub-systems are evaluated and articulated within extended systems
  • Multiple environments: the behavior of members will change with environmental change
  • Multiple dimensions: many dimensions (e.g. intimacy, power, communication, problem-solving, support and adaptability) are appraised
  • Multiple methods: assessment strategies address a range of expressions. Provide media to represent and express themselves: words, drawings, postures, figurines, etc
  • Multiple contexts: the system must be observed in several contexts
  • Multiple assessments to allow comparisons between members, between stages of life cycles, different types of configurations and different cultural backgrounds

People at all levels of a system can evaluate their experience as a basis for decisions about goals, tasks and their use of resources.

Notes on Effective Evaluation

Effective evaluation must match the system. As behavior in closed, stable systems can be approximated, older linear and statistical evaluation models can predict behavior in these systems.

Most human systems are complex and adaptive. Systems that were once stable can move away from linear models into complex adaptive behavior. As accurate prediction and control cannot be expected in complex adaptive systems, we design new models and skills to meet the needs of those systems.

Soulwork provides models to evaluate and change human relationship systems, to assist the members of those systems and the coaches, therapists or consultants who would help them. Soulwork systemic coaching helps bridge the void between traditional assumptions of linearity and real-life complex behavior.

Soulwork Life Coach Training

Soulwork provides effective systemic coaching, training and mentorship. We train professional coaches to coach individuals, partners and teams to help people resolve physical, emotional, educational and relationship challenges.

[ Soulwork Life Coach Training ]

Copyright © Martin Carruthers & Soulwork 2005. All rights reserved.

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Soulwork systemic coaching in America & Hawaii


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Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email