Your relationship dynamics may be outside of your awareness, yet control your life.
Our relationship counseling can offer insights into
your emotions and habits
- and solutions for your problems.
Systemic insights are simple yet profound, hidden
yet obvious, and always revealing. You may never understand your own
family as well as you understand other families.
After Family Constellations
A family constellation represents the subjective experience of
family members. It can also be called a ritual map
or family panorama, but differs from a genogram,
which maps relationships and medical history.
Family constellations were first described by Alfred Adler.
Applications of family constellations were developed and incorporated
into family therapy by Virginia Satir (see New Peoplemaking),
and were popularized by Bert Hellinger.
In the demonstrations I witnessed, people trained by Satir or
Hellinger briefly explored people's family compositions and histories,
and then asked those people to spatially represent their families. Family constellations can be made with actors,
or using chairs, papers or other objects (during private sessions).
The resulting layouts of people or objects are sometimes called
family constellations. These layouts were then modified
or changed, following the feelings, guesses or
intuitions of the leader.
The emotions described by the representatives were often claimed
to 'belong to the real family members' - the absent family
of the central person, living, missing or dead.
My research into
indicates that many rituals utilized non-local action. The rituals of
and awaiku assume that
health reflects relationships, and that information
can pass between relatives. (When action at a distance
becomes healing at a distance, it does seem miraculous.)
Constellations in Practice
WARNING: You can feel
good and relax if you
successfully imagine that you have solved a problem!
We find that good feelings often support short-term changes, followed
by relapses. and that lasting change requires appropriate changes
in a person's maturity and behavior. Good feelings may
decrease people's motivation to accept their responsibilities
and improve their skills.
When we help people heal relationships,
we respect each person's values, and we honor each person's wisdom.
We don't try to make people do anything. We find that people make
intelligent choices when they know what is possible; when they know
the potential consequences and when they are not entangled in limiting
My talks with trainers, students and clients of family
constellation workshops indicate that the benefits of imaginary change-work
often vanish within a few weeks, although some practitioners told me
that any long-term follow-up is intrusive and should be avoided.
See Systemic Health
and Systemic Magic.
For helping professionals:
Be honest - only promise what you can deliver.
Let your experience speak to you as well as
to your clients about what to expect.
Discuss the potential consequences of every technique
before using it,
offer many choices, and promise your clients your
Trauma, Tragedy and Health
Common examples of emotional trauma and relationship issues include:
- Adopted children
- Early or premature deaths
- Ostracized family members
- War, holocaust and terrorism survivors
- Children of
separated or divorced parents
- Abortions, miscarriages
and stillborn children
- Descendents of aboriginals, minorities or slaves
Some families manage emotional trauma
and move on, but some people get stuck, unable to find a balance between giving and
receiving, between honoring and forgetting, between life and death.
Family members unconsciously follow family rules.
For example, if a family member is ostracized, and that missing
person is not brought back into a family, the family loses part of
itself. A family member may identify with unconsciously express
the missing or lost qualities of that person, or marry a substitute for that person.
Cross-generational entanglements explain why some
tragedies are repeated in each generation. Relatively simple but
tragically toxic examples of cross-generational suffering are
covert emotional incest and suicide. See
Father-Daughter Bonds and
Children can become entangled in the drama of
missing, hurt or grieving relatives, and can identify with
or bond to those relatives. As these adult children act out
their entanglements, they create the seeds of similar confusion
for the next generation.
Failure to manage family entanglements can
have unpleasant consequences, such as bipolar
and suicide. Contact us to manage
Risks, Responsibility, Consequences and Effectiveness
There are risks for people who participate as actors in
family constellations. The consequences of observation
flow both ways. People who play roles in another person's family systems
may identify with those often-toxic roles.
Many family systems require one or more members to be
unhealthy (the unhealthy person may hold the family together).
A family member who identifies with an unhealthy person may experience psychosomatic
symptoms. This seems to be common (based on discussions with participants
of our coaching and workshops).
Another hazard of family constellation work is the risk of installing
beliefs. If a constellations trainer is accepted as an authority, a
concise diagnosis that seems to simplify a complex problem may have the rapid
placebo effect called instant healing. Well ... temporarily anyway ...
until the family system reasserts its power.
Short-term results are a curse to many alternative therapies -
except that some family constellation trainers suggest that practitioners
avoid follow-up with their students or clients! Follow-up, they told me, can
be terribly intrusive and damage the newly adjusted family systems. Is
this wisdom - or an impressive way to justify avoiding learning
about responsibility, consequences and effectiveness?
Information offered by actors in family constellations is
second-hand ... filtered through the actor's experiences and beliefs. I have
seen too many constellations in which the actors propounded beliefs from religions, cults and philosophies as inspired truths.
I have also seen immature people become
enmeshed in dysfunctional family constellations. They may react and
abreact to what they discover, and distort their own relationships.
The consequences of role playing and identifying with unhealthy
people can be very unpleasant.
Family constellations provide a way to change inner
representations of relationships. However, changing representations is
unlikely to change other people's representations, nor motivate other
people to ignore any past hurt or forget injustices. Unless followed by
appropriate action and interaction, the apparent benefits
family constellation workshops seem to disappear within three months.
Our Systemic Relationship Counseling
Some questions that expose systemic stress are:
- How is power delegated?
- How do leaders gain power?
- Who really makes decisions?
- How are those decisions communicated?
We help parents or leaders to restore order, and
change the human resources of a family, team or organization. This
intelligence can help people answer some important questions:
- How can we increase happiness?
- How can we increase effectiveness?
- Which person best fits our organization?
- How can core competencies be duplicated or improved?
Following systemic diagnosis, we coach people to
define their goals and plans to reach them - including relationship
goals. Verbal and nonverbal objections and entanglements are explored
until each goal is congruently desired (no verbal or nonverbal objections)
and limiting beliefs are resolved.
Our systemic coaching is about your life,
rather than in theories or intuitions. We explore who supports
you, who blocks you, and how proposed changes
your relationships. Contact us for more.
Online Life Coaching, Counseling & Soulwork Training
I thought you were just
another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.
Plagiarism is theft. Copyright
© Martyn Carruthers 2001-2018
All rights reserved.