The foundation of systemic phenomenological work

Frequently asked questions

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Questions about the essence of our work

What are systems?

Systems. That sounds abstract and technical. Hardly human. But it is. We are all part of groups. Sometimes without consciously choosing yourself, simply because of your birth. You are part of your family of origin. It does not matter whether you know your family or whether you are currently in contact with them or not.

In other situations you are consciously part of a group because you choose, such as a group of friends, or your work. But also a class, a sports club, a team in an organization, a region, a country, society; all are a system in themselves. People are therefore part of different systems.

Characteristic to a system is, that within the borders it is different than outside of the borders.

What does systemic work mean?

Systemic work is very much about lifting up unconscious patterns.
With many theories, the starting point is that something is wrong and something has to change. In other words: you want to get rid of something. The starting point for systemic work is precisely that change begins with taking the world and reality as it is. Right or wrong is not what it is about.

The question we ask ourselves is “For what is this problem a solution?” That requires a different perspective. We do not focus on the details or the individual (such as when you focus on and analyze an issue), but on the whole. We explicitly consider the entire system. We zoom out. For example: There is a problem in a team. We look at the team as a whole, but also at the organization, or at the origin and maybe more than that. We call this systemic phenomenological and it results in different types of interventions.

What are the work forms of systemic work?

Systemic phenomenological work can be done in various forms, with or without constellations.

A constellation is a method of exploring covered, unconscious connections. It is a spatial representation of a family or organization system that you are part of, or involved with. Working with a constellation can be done in different ways. The most common is is a constellation with human representatives. They are used to represent a person in the setup. But they can also be representative of, for example, a concept, product or business unit. In other words, an abstract element. You can also do a constellation without people, but use objects. The so-called tabletop constellation with dolls is a good example of this. We also regularly work with paper or so-called floor anchors. This is to indicate the positions of the elements in the arrangement on the floor.

The constellation can also be guided in the imagination. In all setups we investigate the mutual relationships and dynamics between the various elements that have been set up.

From thousands of constellations many insights have emerged about how family and organization systems function and thrive from a systemic perspective.

Even without constellations, a systemic way of working is very well possible. Through conversations and systemic coaching questions. In addition, we also offer working with horses.

What are constellations?

A constellation is a method, with the aim that you quickly gain insight into the deeper causes of a problem. It is a spatial representation of a family or organization system that you are part of or involved with. The contributor (client or coachee) determines together with the facilitator/coach (a professional in this field) which persons, functions or other elements from the system are important to draft. The client then chooses people (so-called representatives) from the participants present to represent a father, a mother, a director, a founder, etc. and positions them in relation to each other, based on an inner image that the client has of them. Almost always such a constellation gives an astonishing representation of the actual relationships and underlying patterns in the real system. We do not yet know exactly how this works. The facilitator then explores, in constant consultation and coordination with the client, where there are possibilities and where there is room for insights. This process is often both enlightening and intense.

Constellations usually take place in a group, because representatives are needed. It is also possible to do a set up where representatives from “outside” are present. These are mostly participants in our courses. They are not involved in the organization or family system, so that they can represent in a neutral way.
A constellation provides deep insight and the images often work on for a longer period of time. The setup itself is without judgment and the facilitator does not tend to give advice about what the client should or should not do. The insights speak for themselves and it is up to the client to determine what he or she does with it. Coaching is a professional skill and requires a lot of experience, knowledge, sensitivity and integrity.

Which questions can be investigated with a systemic work form?

There are many different questions that can be explored with a systemic method. Questions can be about very different topics, such as:

  • Relationships
  • Pedagogic and parental questions
  • Symptoms of disease
  • Addiction
  • Psychological complaints, depression
  • Inexplicable feelings or thoughts
  • Conflicts
  • Course in organizations
  • Resistance in people or teams
  • Questions about business succession
  • Cooperation
  • Products, markets and customers
  • Potential
  • Transformation

How can I become acquainted with it or introduce an issue?

If you would like to become acquainted with setups or introduce your own issue, you can participate in a workshop. This usually takes one or two days. In this workshop there is a theoretical introduction and the possibility to bring forward your own issue. We can never guarantee it, but most of the times those who want to bring in their own issues get a chance to do so.

You can go to the family constellation workshops for personal and life questions. In the organizational constellation workshops you can think of various organizational issues, as well as societal issues. For a detailed explanation, visit our offer

Practical questions

I am following, or would like to follow a course with you, but I cannot do one or two days. Can I still participate?

That is possible, as long as you are able to participate in 80%

You can, in consultation with fellow students, ensure that the missed information is shared with you.

If unexpectedly you would miss a full module, please contact our office to options for catching up that module in a next years training.

I think the Systemic Coaching or Systemic Advising course suits me best. Can I also facilitate constellations afterwards?

No. If you want to learn how to facilitate constellations yourself, the basic System Dynamics in Organizations training (organizational constellations) or the basic Family Constellation training is the most appropriate course.

Please note that here at our institute, we only offer the basic Family Constellation training in Dutch. This training is often given in other countries by local institutions and training centra, so if you with to follow a basic training for Family Constellations in English or in your own language, please refer to one of the centra in your country of origin.

I would like to follow the basic training Family Constellations, can I also use constellations at companies?

No. After completing this course you can follow the short course Organizational Constellations for Family Constellators. In three blocks of two days you learn a supplement that brings you to the basic level of the System Dynamics in Organizations course.

The same naturally also applies the other way round. If you have followed the basic system dynamics training in organizations, you can also do a shortened training to be able to supervise family constellations.

I would like to do the Mastertraining in Organizational Constellations, but I did my basic education elsewhere. Can I participate?

Yes. We always encourage everyone to get as many “tastes” as possible as supervisor of setups. So you are very welcome! Systemic work has many similarities among trainers, but also many differences. Because we want to make an in-depth look in the Master’s program, it is useful if you know our work and view. Please contact us about where you did your basics. In some cases it could be worthwhile to do th e training System Dynamics in Organizations with our institute first. If your basic training elsewhere is sufficient we are happy to see what might be helpful in getting you ready to participate in the Master training.

Do you want to learn more about systemic work and constellations?

Our field of activity is broad and focuses on companies and organizations, personal development, illness and health, education and social issues.

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Frequently asked questions

We regularly share experiences or insights in the form of blogs/articles. Those are experiences and insights we gain during our work in The Netherlands and abroad.


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