By Suzi Tucker
What is the difference between teachers and gods? Between students and supplicants?
Well, one difference is in the level of freedom that they have. The teacher-student relationship assumes the freedom to change. In other words, when the teacher shifts his or her way of teaching or even what is being explored, the student is free to follow or to withdraw. In this freedom, the student allows himself or herself to continue to receive from what has already been learned.
The learning experience is complete with respect to the relationship to the particular teacher, but the potential unfoldings over time are limitless. In this way, a decision to stay with a particular teacher is not actually a decision to stay, but rather it is a moment to choose anew.
And the teacher is free to build upon the original ideas — adding to, reexamining, reframing and continuing to value what has been even as he or she moves toward the new. When the insights and gathered knowledge of the past can be integrated, rather than dismissed or rejected, the backbone of the future is strengthened.
“If we reveal and facilitate these dynamics in a conscious manner, without being entangled by polarization, it’s possible to mitigate the drive to unconsciously reenact past traumas, individually, in families, and collectively in our society.”
By Harrison Snow
The U.S. election is over. We have a new president. And yet not since the American Civil War, from 1860 to 1865, and the Vietnam War, about a hundred years later, has the United States been so polarized. This polarization includes the constructs of race, as well as gender, class, country of origin, ethnicity and religion, to name a few.
However, although our public discourse is divisive, there seems to be an emerging readiness to explore social territory that has long been ignored or avoided.
The program committee for the 2017 North American Systemic Constellations Conference, scheduled Oct. 5-8 in Virginia Beach, Va., believes the conference agenda should reflect this readiness in addition to giving attention to presentations on Family and Systemic Constellations and their innovations.
Therefore, we will be giving space “to reveal and explore the hidden dynamics that underlie the pressing issues affecting us individually and collectively.”.
By Carolyn Zahner, LISW
Women’s voices spring up immediately upon Donald J. Trump being elected U.S. president. The energy erupts from the core of the earth and from the bottom of the ocean requiring the full surface of our planet to find its complete expression: more than five million strong worldwide..
Would I go to our nation’s capital to march? What was my right place? I watched and listened as the leaders and organizers allowed the movement to find its right place. I sat as one sits, witnessing the unfolding of a Systemic Constellation session.
The Response: from an activist’s heart
I was born with an activist’s heart. My ancestors, the perpetrators and the victims, stand behind me, leading me and guiding me on this path.
Yes, activism can be filled with the same perpetrator energy that one is resisting – the activist’s heart consumed with rage, blame and vindictiveness – and keeping us stuck in old loyalties that no longer serve.
“Autism spectrum disorders can only be fully healed by restoring the self-regulation of the system and making it fully functional.” -- Deitrich Klinghardt, M.D.
By Jennifer Giustra-Kozek, LPC
Autism and related disorders have become pandemic in our world. Some form of autism is now observed in 1 in 55 children and is growing at a rate of more than 1,100 percent. Western medicine focuses on medication to suppress symptoms, and alternative approaches focus on treating the underlying biomedical, physical, psychological and environmental causes of autism.
However, illness not only originates in our physical body but can also originate in our energetic and spiritual body as well. So, it becomes imperative that we treat the entire person for a fuller recovery.
Systemic Constellations, sometimes known as Family Constellations, were created by Bert Hellinger, a German psychotherapist. This phenomenological method is used to uncover the source of chronic conditions, illnesses and emotional difficulties that may have roots in the inter-generational family system, rather than the individual person, and may be connected to a key stress event.
This moving and powerful work in the family’s energetic field, which is also referred to as “the knowing field,” has been used to examine the emotional factors connected to conditions such as illness, allergies, alcoholism, ADHD and autism. Some parents of autistic children have experienced profound transformations as a result of this work for themselves as well as for their families.
By Sara Fancy
Recently I was distressed to find Diva and Corazon, my two mares at Silver Horse Ranch, engaged in a violent battle. They screamed and kicked at each other relentlessly. Neither horse showed signs of backing down.
Not wanting the horses to be injured, I broke them apart, and each dispersed to other areas of the corral.
I hoped this battle would be a onetime occurrence. Up until now, Corazon and Diva had been inseparable since Corazon was integrated into this herd at the ranch nine months ago. Alas, the following day, they continued where they left off, screaming and kicking at each other with no sign of resolution. Again I broke them up, knowing this was a temporary fix.
By Harrison Snow
Trauma results when an individual or group suffers a natural or man-made catastrophe.
If the suffering is strong enough, a certain amount of associated feelings and memories are repressed as a survival strategy. Trauma and its repression can occur on an individual, family, organizational or social level. The strategy of denial, repression or addiction may provide some refuge from the pain. However, the price is steep and symptoms often occur as a silent call for help.
Facilitating a discussion about diversity often raises issues about race, class, gender and criminal justice, to name a few. These topics are hugely difficult to discuss in a group because of the intensity of feelings that may emerge. Feelings and judgments can spring not only from an individual’s personal history but also from unresolved family and social trauma that has been stored in the individual and collective subconscious.
By Michael Reddy, Ph.D.
When we are working with Family and Systemic Constellations, let’s begin by suggesting that there are two sources of trauma: the threatening overwhelms that affect your nervous system personally and those that affected a parent or ancestor’s but were never dealt with.
After-effects of the second kind do show up in you or your clients, even though they never actually happened to you. What are we coming to understand about these? How are they similar or different?
Consider five foundational facts about trauma. The whole trauma response, often referred to as “fight/flight/freeze,” actually has not just three, but five stages. Think of them as “fight-or-flight, friends, freeze, and forget.” Easy to remember as the “5 F’s.”
Remember also – trauma is highly individual. One person’s experience of overwhelm is another person’s “so what” – or even triumph.
Fight? Or Flight?
The limbic midbrain, triggered by what psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk calls the “smoke detector” amygdala, sets in motion an array of autonomic responses. They prepare, more or less as needed, our whole organism for possibly extreme efforts to recreate safety. All processes not immediately relevant to that are slowed down or completely stopped. These include digestion, the immune system, more rationally oriented presence of mind, and more.
By Francesca Mason Boring
There are so many times that people seem baffled by how to describe Family and Systems (also known as Systemic) Constellations). I can honestly say that I don’t understand the hesitation.
From the beginning, when I co-facilitated constellations sessions with a colleague, we described it as a process though which one could step easily from the dark into the light.
Simple descriptions that many early facilitators used when describing Family Constellations included: “This work increases the flow of love in the family system,” and “This work has the capacity to reveal hidden dynamics within a family system which have interrupted the flow of love.”
Now the work has moved into better understanding of organizational systems, environmental and political discussions, and support for artists and artistic productions, as well as healing processes.
A paper was presented last year at an engineering conference in Germany, inviting the utilization of systems constellations to find solutions in engineering. I began to be more aware of the capacity this work has to literally shine a light on the subject – any subject – to illuminate that which is present but has previously been unseen. The application of the luminous tool of systems constellation appears to be unlimited.
By Karen Carnabucci, LCSW, TEP
Family Constellations help us take a look at the hidden dynamics within families so that we can resolve problems that plague our lives today. Systemic Constellations help us look at the dynamics at play in larger groups, including communities and nations.
Aware of the turmoil stirred during and after the 2016 presidential election in the United States, I decided to offer a healing group to address post-election feelings and the underlying systems that contribute to and sustain the dysfunction in our beloved country.
The group focused not on discussion or debate but on the body-based inquiry that is the hallmark of the constellation approach. In this approach, we put theory, opinions and intellectual debate aside and use mindfulness to focus on our moment-to-moment sensations and body experiences. In addition, we used elements of psychodrama including concretization, warm up and sharing.
We began with chairs set up in a circle. Behind the chair circle, more chairs were placed – two chairs side by side in each of the directions of north, south, east and west.
By Leslie Nipps, M.Div.
I just returned from “Constellating Future,” a gathering of the International Systemic Constellations Association, from Oct. 21-25 in Zagreb, Croatia.
What an enlivening and rich experience!
I traveled to Croatia with James Woeber, my fellow co-director of the 2015 North American Systemic Constellations Conference, to participate in this international event with nearly 80 facilitators and constellation enthusiasts from around the world.
I can happily report that international constellation work is alive and well – and a rich resource for all of us who love constellation work.
The International Systemic Constellations Association gathered in Zagreb this year at a time of transition and rejuvenation. Founded in 2007 and almost closed for business a year or so ago, ISCA is now on the verge of a new era of international constellation work and innovation. Great thanks especially go to Max Dauskardt of Germany (currently living in Croatia), who has led the effort to regrow ISCA and make it viable again. It’s been a work of great passion and love for him.
Welcome to our blog, which explores what people are doing with Family and Systemic Constellations here, there and everywhere throughout North America.