The foundation of systemic phenomenological work


31 March 2021| Personal

What is your job based on?

An internal school supervisor asks a question about a young boy who shows behaviour that constantly shakes up the dynamics in the group and dominates the atmosphere. The group also experiences so much more peace and quiet when he is not around.

How can I support the teachers? What can I do, there are so many judgements.

We do a constellation and the first image shows a split: on one side a part of the group and a teacher, on the other side a part of the group and the other teacher, with the boy in between.

Because the question is mainly: “What can I do?”, we do not go further into the dynamics in the group, but I ask questions about the history. A number of years ago, before this supervisor started working here, the director left and “things had to change”. An interim director came in, followed later by the current director. We set up a representative for everything that that “things had to change” involved, both the board and also the policy and the reasons for it. Small changes in the constellation, actually.

Then a thought occurs to me: “How remarkable. This is the third time I have already heard this competent woman bring in this question.” That thought makes me ask further questions about her relationship with this school. “How did you end up at this school?”

Her face contorts for a moment: “The board thought that the previous internal supervisor should be transferred because of a personal issue. And then I was transferred, against my will, to this school, where I am very happy now.”

We let a representative of “the story that should not be there” take his place in the constellation. Immediately all the children’s representatives turn to this story. Then we also place a representative for the current internal supervisor there. And I let her speak: “My job is based on a story that should not be there. I thank my job now to the fact that the former supervisor had to leave.”

Everything in the constellation relaxes, and the woman who brought in the question now looks at this boy and his group, with eyes that see how his behaviour is upsetting the system to give “the story” a place. It is clearly visible that this woman is now giving this a place.

It now remains to be seen whether this was really what the behaviour was asking for, or whether more recognition is needed before the system can really relax. But this supervisor now looks at this system with different eyes. Being part of this system, she gives the “forbidden story” which her job is based on a place.



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People are constantly evolving. With each other, without each other. In families, in teams, in organizations. Systemic thinking makes us aware of the “why” of our being and doing. Organizational and family constellations create room for movement. The BHI provides courses, workshops and training programs in the field of systemic work, constellations, leadership and coaching. This is how we contribute to the development of people, organizations and society.

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