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Love, Disease & Change in Human Systems
Soul at Work Martyn Carruthers

Online Life Coaching, Counseling & Soulwork Therapy

Our individual coaching manages negative emotions that block individual success. Our systemic coaching solves relationship problems. We increase the adaptability and survival potential of relationships by embedding individual coaching within systemic coaching.

Systemic psychology rarely has clear boundaries. Everything seems dependent on everything else. Every detail reflects other details in a complex hall of mirrors. Often in human systems, effects precede causes, and causes may be as deeply embedded as Russian dolls.

Deciding what really happened or what is true often involves siding with one member of a human system against another. We often accept multiple possibilities without believing that any are true. (Consider couple, family and team coaching, where you often hear at least two very different descriptions of what happened.)

Reversed Cause & Effect in Human Relationships

"I left him before he could leave me."
"We hurt each other because we love each other."
"She left me for another man ... who she had never met."
"I didn't tell you that I wasn't coming for my session in case you felt bad."

Systemic Solutions & Murray Bowen

We train people to recognize human systemic dynamics and to coach people to change aspects of a relationship system that seem unhealthy. If one member of a relationship system can recognize and avoid dysfunctional patterns, other members of that system can also move towards health. We honor the work of Murray Bowen, an American family therapist, and our methodology reflects this.

Murray Bowen developed a natural systems theory about the interaction of variables in human families. As systemic variables can produce predictable individual behavior; physical and emotional symptoms can often be predicted. Biology and behavior seem to be influenced by the same variables, which can produce both chronic disease and long-term love.

We often apply Murray Bowen's systemic theories when we work with couples, families, teams and communities.

Checklist for Change with Systemic Solutions

If we tried to fix relationships or relationship systems, we would likely:

  • waste time trying to analyze system members
  • build resistance (to our arrogance and interference)
  • be irritated if system members don't appreciate our efforts
  • avoid clarity about our own motivations, prejudices and goals

If we explore, observe or witness systems effectively, we can:

  • explore the who, what, when, where, and how
  • observe and relate to members in all parts of the system
  • investigate system traumas, myths, abuses, patterns, rules & bonds
  • note incongruence between identity, values, beliefs, behavior and environment
  • temporarily join the human system, and change the system by changing our behavior

Remember to also observe your own myths, beliefs, prejudices and rules! You can decide which of your own behaviors support your work - which you want to continue and which you want to change.

Communication Patterns

If we spend time with system members in their usual environment, we may become stuck in their communication habits and behavior patterns. When we meet group or team members alone, we are less likely to get stuck - but we are less likely to observe their habits and patterns. We sometimes contact members alone and sometimes in groups.

  1. We can develop personal relationships with system members
  2. We find that cut-off members in extended systems are important, and worth getting to know.
  3. We contact peripheral members first, to gather information and gain overall perspectives, before we contact authorities, especially if our study includes long-term cut-off or missing members.

Cut-off members are often people who broke the system's rules. These people can give you important feedback about the overall system. (Note: you may upset a group if you contact cut-off members.)

Communication & Emotions

How people communicate will trigger your emotional responses. If your emotional intensity seems out of proportion to the triggers, then we can identify the underlying causes and find appropriate solutions with systemic diagnosis.

  1. We check if we are observing dysfunctional habits and patterns
  2. If we predict the response we expect, we may diffuse some emotional intensity.
  3. We strive to communicate our thoughts and feelings in a skilful and helpful ways.
  4. We strive to initiate both the beginnings and endings of talks, phone calls and meetings.

Systemic Psychology & Soul-Work

When we take a position in a human system ...

  1. We find a balance between observing abstract values and specific actions; between observing internal process and external behavior; and between being serious and humorous.
  2. To remain emotionally poised
  3. :

    • we avoid taking sides
    • we avoid listening to criticism about absent people
    • we arrange one-to-one meetings as well as group meetings

  4. If we find ourselves in relationship triangles (see conflicts & triangulation):

    • We talk to people who have been cut off from the system
    • We talk to people who are important to the senior members
    • We talk to people with more or less authority than those present

  5. Withheld secrets and hidden agendas form boundaries between secret keepers and naive members that can foster and perpetuate cut-offs.
  6. Remain aware of our feelings ... anxiety, sorrow and anger can warn that we may be getting sucked into transferences or other systemic communication loops.
  7. We may use anniversaries, lay-offs and deaths to contact members.
  8. We are aware of the systemic dynamics that follow the loss of a member, and how members of a system compensate for missing people.

Coaching Human Systems

Contact us to manage negative emotions and solve relationship problems

Online Help, Relationship Counseling & Soulwork Therapy

I thought you were just another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright Martyn Carruthers 2005-2018
All rights reserved.

If you like our work, please link to us. If you know someone who might benefit,
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For online help, email us at:

Soulwork systemic coaching in America & Hawaii


Soulwork systemic coaching in England, Wales & Scotland

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Soulwork systemic coaching in Poland



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