The foundation of systemic phenomenological work



Iveta Apine

Iveta Apine

Founder of Systemic Constellations Center Riga and providing training and coaching in constellations

23 August 2019| Organizational Constellations

Insights from training in Moscow

One thing I would have expected the least, is teaching in Moscow. Two weeks later, sitting comfortably back in Systemic Constellations Center Riga office, it become clear that this experience is a worthwhile topic to write about. A truly great experience. And I am grateful for a possibility to share with you.

This training group had attracted people from all over the country, where the distance between the home cities of participants were several thousands of kilometres in different time zones. Many of group participants were trained family constellators, there were also business owners, consultants and trainers. Within a diverse, willing to learn group there are interesting possibilities opening up for all involved.

Separating the fields

I know that constellations are taught differently in different parts of the world. I know it from deep experience, since in my path of becoming systemic trainer, I have grown into organisational work with Bert Hellinger Institute Netherland in international learning environment and family work with Moscow Institute of Systemic Solutions and Consulting. And in a way, although all roads lead to Rome (at the very end, ah?), organisational constellations can be addressed in many different ways, leading to different results.

What became clear to me, while teaching in Moscow, is the actual benefits of separating the family field from organisational field. I love the saying, we do not bring Mums and Dads to organisational constellations context. I believe that it is a smart choice for constellators not go after the clients’ heavy personal stories, family losses, tragedies, unsolved personal relationship in the family system, repeating patterns there, etc. when doing systemic organisational constellations. Even if the whole clients’ system is seductively inviting you in.

A business owner was asking for a constellation since his company started to stagnate financially, it was not able to generate more inflow of money. When setting up a constellation, the personal context kept appearing through new relationship and a hint of an early personal trauma. In respect of these elements, all we did, was just acknowledging them. And continued to proceed with organisational context interventions. Since it was a training group, we discussed the constellation a bit afterwards and the client said that this is not the first time he has been looking at this issue, but the first time he has been left with the energy to solve his business issues. Because what he is capable of and willing to do – is to do business!

The more familiar with family work we are, the more we see family system influence on the thinking, behaviour, decisions and drive of the business people. And the more involved in it we can get; it is like, when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail JThese dynamics are the source and ultimate reason why they are in business. And they can create a great energy of achievement. I realised that this is such a big responsibility of a constellatory to be in harmony with the “business” energy, so we can provide the next step for future success instead of next step for moving away from it. It seems, that our experience in organisational and business world can help a lot.

When discussing this topic with participants and being honest with ourselves, we constellators have a lot to learn from businesses energy-wise. And with the attitude of being in support and doing systemic work from the attitude of “equal & different” we can be truly helpful (not harmful). To me a harmful effect would be that a business owner full of energy after organisational constellations would decide that he can no longer do the business until he heals all his personal childhood traumas, builds harmonious partnership, etc. We see it all over the world that people with really crazy family stuff can be unbelievably financially and socially successful. And some manage to stay that way all their life long.

The aspect of language

Moscow training made me think also of the aspect of language on systemic work. It was the first time I was doing training in Russian, which is a foreign language for me I have studied since childhood, and suddenly understood that I am swimming in a different field. It might be a field that unconsciously unites all people speaking the same language and I am a guest there, an observer. I will never be able to understand all specifics that is possible only to the native speakers (this is not about the language proficiency), the ones who have it as a mother tongue or family language. It would be a nice systemic term – family language J

It seems to me that language represents much more than just the way of communication. It seems that it is the number one player in formation of the identity of a nation. Coming from Latvia, where Latvian language, which is my native language, was being repressed for many years and only last 30 years is fully rehabilitated, makes me sensitive to the language aspect influence on systemic work. And we all notice in constellations how much more effect the resolving sentences in one’s own language make. I still remember how deeply touched I was in SDO course in Groningen when in the last module Jan Jacob asked us to say some honouring sentences to each other in our own language. It was even a bit painful.

I am thinking that it is very important to present systemic work in the native language. When translating books, people often notice that the construction of languages is so different, it is like the language is a concentrate of nations’ family and social patterns, and when translating we introduce sometime not just new words and concepts, but new thinking, communication and feelings. And it is interesting to find out where is the place of organisational patterns. In a way, what comes first the language or the organisation? It sounds like, how long back ago the organisations have started here? I am not very clear about it, just would like to share my thought as far as I can get.

50 shades of society

It is the organizational issues we are talking about in the systemic constellations training, still the shades of society shape organisations so much. To name a few examples:

ownership issues in post-soviet countries by default have different quality from ownership issue in western societies, though both are about the ownership. The background experience of nationalization of property, for example, opens a different play-ground, where a place for both polarities and far beyond need to be granted to make place for flourishing businesses. I can imagine that this concerns many societies in the world;
closeness of government and business fields makes free systemic movement in organisations impossible and requires a lot to be done in silence; this is an unconscious feeling that danger in the air and questions cannot even be formulated on organisational level; may be this is a good reason for having a lot of personal and family issues to look at instead of opening up business – societal context;
for consultants and individual systemic practitioners this is a question how to approach business organisations not to heal them, but to make them flourish – this requires business understanding, gut feeling and good systemic knowledge;
for the whole field to open up for systemic organisational constellations (not structural or family constellations), this a process of letting go old patterns also on societal level.

It was a great moment at the end of three day work when the participants said that they felt they had become more open and available for each other, realizing they are meeting their potential in organisational context and are in hunger for further systemic organisational experience. It was on the last day when we were starting to make the change possible.

Iveta Apine
Founder of Systemic Constellations Center Riga
Affiliated trainer of BHIN

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