This is a serious therapeutic technique. If you are educated in the field of constellations, you can do this technique in full. If you are a coach, using the method of constellations for coaching purposes, please do as described below. In coaching it is a precious tool for diagnostics, for externalizing all the things that he client is keeping inside. Also it is very useful to uncover hidden things. After the client „sees“ it all, could be the coaching topic will be reformulated. Which is a good thing.
BEST SUITABLE FOR
Clients with experience in coaching.
- Floor mats/colourful pieces of paper. It is important that every piece has an arrow drawn on it, or something that would reveal where the piece is pointing at
- Peace and quiet
The first thing you need to know about the systemic constellations technique is that it is all about working with your intuition. Intuition is a doorway to information, a place where consciousness and unconsciousness meet and talk to each other. We can eavesdrop them there!
Constellations comprise of working with the things that we cannot see but are there. Sounds interesting, right? It is. To fully understand the approach, I need you to tell you something about the System in which constellations are performed.
Each relational group is a system of its own. Family, team, neighborhood gang, physical body, school class, social, cultural, relational, educational system… In each relationship system are explicit elements, people ad things. Underneath those visible parts are the implicit, hidden, invisible dynamics. The patterns of behavior, the unspoken loyalties, the unspoken rules, as well as many resources. Together the explicit and the implicit make a field. A dynamic field of information. Using constellations, we can tap into this field of information and give our client a new perspective on his topic/problem.
The ground rules of the system:
everybody belongs somewhere, everything has its place in the system
It is important who came first/before you. For example it is not irrelevant what was happening with your new job position before you got a promotion to get it. Was it a brand new one created for you or was it an old one with your predecessor getting fired after 10 years on the job?
It is important who is above who, traditional seating arrangement clearly state how should family members or titles be seated at a dining table.
The process of giving and taking should be in balance. There is one exception to this rule and that is in the roles of Parent and Child. The Child is always the one who is doing the taking and the Parent is always the one who is doing the giving.
This is usually very important for organizations.
A change in one part of the system always provokes a change in the whole system. If the ground rules of the system are violated, there are symptoms in the system. We call them problems. Problems are solutions of the bigger system to restore balance. Take for example your body. It has a rule that for numerous reasons, the body must at all times support the head so it stands straight. If you hurt your neck or it gets sprained, your spine and consequently your body will realign in such a way that the head will indeed stand straight, but the body will be crocked.
So, constellation is a practical intervention that can illuminate the invisible and unspoken dynamics behind a relationship difficulty, a stuck issue or a personal challenge. This could be the inner relational space in an individual, their relationship with other people or several peoples` relational dynamics in a team or a group. They are also very useful when looking at your relationship with abstract elements like authority, time, values, fears, purpose, obstacles. In the past, the present and the future. They can be used to just look at what is, and that alone often delivers a significant breakthrough in understanding. They can be used to diagnose, to resource, to find the best way of belonging in a system and to support healthy leavings. They can also be used to detangle, to say what has been left unsaid, to make requests, to return responsibility and to find meaningful paths to lasting resolution.
Systemic coaching is coaching that prioritizes the system. That does not necessarily mean doing constellations technique, but using the systemic way of thinking, zooming out.
Inviting a client to create a three-dimensional map of their inner picture of a particular situation of challenge is relatively easy; after all they are doing the mapping, not you. Knowing how to facilitate it in a way that illuminates and then releases systemic dynamics and resources takes knowledge of the organizing principles that influence systems and practice with the methodology.
This is why I stated in the very beginning, that just a coach, not a constellation practitioner, will use constellation just for the purpose of diagnosing. Externalizing the internal content of the client. This is the place, where almost always, something new surfaces, which is a great start for coaching. You have your question behind the question and you can work it out with some other technique. An educated constellator might „finish of the session“ going forward with the more therapeutic elements of constellations, supporting dialogues, movement, etc.
Here are the steps that a coach can use when working with systemic constellations as a tool for diagnosis and diging the topic behind the topic. It usually happens on the first session, when you have talked about a topic for a while, so the obvious elements are known:
- Explain to your client that he is going to experience possibly a new approach into looking at his problem and to stay with his intuition
2. Ask him to choose elements/representatives that are important to his topic.
3. Ask him to choose appropriate floor mats and place them accordingly. The client should start from first placing the floor mat that represents himself and the arrange all the others in relation to him. Remind him that the direction of the floor mats is also important.
4. Let the dynamics unfold. Watch, feel, sense. See what is happening to your client while he is observing from a distance his constellation. Ask him what does he observe?
5. You might want to put him in his position to look around and see how he feels there. To explore his position and see if he would like for a certain element to be in a different place or if a certain element bothers him.
6. Already here a client should have a new understanding of his topic/problem. If not, you can try provoking him by:
- moving yourself certain elements that you suspect could be important. After doing it, check “What is different now?”
- adding elements that he mentioned earlier, usually abstract ones: fear, control, resentment …and play with them a bit.
- position the client in a different element than his own and check with him “What is happening now?”
Trust the process, the client will tell you everything you need to know. Verbally or non verbally. Trust your intuition when it comes to your possible what-to-do-next fear.
Important note: when you are walking around the flor mats on the floor, be careful not to walk through them. Remember that it is a system and there is always a certain something being created in the system. Going physically through it would violate it. So, go around it please.
Questions that you can ask your client:
- What is different now?
- What do you observe?
- What do you see/sense/hear?
- What is missing?
- What is happening to you?
- How is xyz influencing you?
- Why are you here/in this position?
- Who do you belong to (particularly if you put him in a position of an abstract element)
- What are you taking/giving from xyz?
- How are you trying to help xyz?
- Make an interpretation and then check with the client ( You are afraid of xyz, aren’t you?)
You can do it big scale, in space, with floor mats and even other people serving as representatives if they are willing and around. As a small scale, you can do it with Legos or little figures on the table.
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