3D Online Avatars for Remote Constellations?
by Michael Reddy, PhD
There are many signs of constellation work coming of age throughout the world. Here’s one that you may not have noticed. It’s the existence of two pieces of software that allow facilitators to do remote constellations in an online, shared image space.
Yes, that means that two people (or more in one case) can both see and manipulate these images while talking to one another. That’s one way to solve the problem of the facilitator and the client not being in the same physical room. This way, they can share a kind of virtual space, while interacting through voice or voice plus video of one another.
But Wait–Why is This Important for North America?
Well… most of us are aware that constellations are gaining ground more slowly in English Speaking North America (not Mexico). And that means many fledgling facilitators (or even advanced ones in some areas) have a hard time organizing group workshops. Just not enough interested people in the local area.
So the ability to do one-on-one constellations for people over national and international regions can make or break the effort to build a practice. Plus which, with such a strong fascination for high tech in the US at least, these tools are another way to bring us both more attention and more respect.
I think it’s good to know about this as we head towards what looks to be a fresh and wonderful constellation conference Nov 13-15 in San Diego.
That’s Nice–But Show me the Goods Here
Well, another big reason CoachingSpaces is of great value to us is as a teaching tool. Stages in constellations can be saved and then “walked through” in movable, full color, 3D realism. Here below is the constellation from Chapter Two of my book Health, Happiness, and Family Constellations modeled and displayed with CoachingSpaces in a video. I’ve had great success showing this concise, 15 minute screencast to audiences of psychologists and therapists who knew at the start nothing about constellations.
Take a quick look.
This important online tool is supported by a dedicated and highly skilled team of developers led by Eugene Belayev, an entrepreneur business person who has already had some serious success in the software world. That means it’s likely to be stable and continue growing.
When I was in regular conversation with the team almost two years ago, we were talking about how the figures should have more postures–like looking down, looking up, sitting on their heels, and lying down.
Now the menu of postures is extremely rich. It includes: standing, crossing arms, hugging, arms up, arms on shoulders, arms front, left arm front, arm stop gesture, half bow, full bow, sitting on chair, sitting on heels, and lying down.
Very Cool Features
Coaching Spaces gives you both voice and video contact (there’s a small picture of your clients) with up to four people at one time in one application. For the figures, you can show names, gaze lines, and speech bubbles, or not. Either you or the client can see and manipulate the viewpoint, figure sizes and movements, and so on–and back up again as well (undo changes).
One wonderful idea that came up in a conversation between Eugene and myself is “random movement.” Either all the representatives or the one you select will meander around the screen in a random walk and come to a stop somewhere, facing some new way. I’ve seen some amazingly revealing constellation movements happen this way.
OK–Are There Any Downsides?
CoachingSpaces is an extremely well developed online software application you can try out (one project) for free. The user interface is as well organized and intuitive as anybody could wish. It even runs on iPad. BUT–as the number of features in any piece of software grow, there’s just more stuff to manage. On the left is a look at the tools to manipulate one figure.
Though the learning curve is not steep, you do have to know and manage the system during a live constellation. Fumbling around with this during the approximately 2 hour attention span you have for a remote constellation can interfere with rapport. It can also dim your focus on the configuration of representatives and the emergence of meaning in the constellation.
Got Tech-Savvy Clients?
I’ve also found that unless your client is tech savvy and comfortable with computers in general, this is not the best way to do remote constellations. Their lack of comfort keeps the knowing field from forming strongly. I’ll be teaching about all the ways to do remotes via phone, Skype, and CoachingSpaces in a teleclass this Winter.
It’s also true that even people comfortable with their machines may not have the latest revisions of browsers and browser plug-ins needed to run CoachingSpaces. Personally, my attitude is: the client and the constellation come first. Any problems with the interface can throw both me and the client out of the calm, open space that lets meaning develop. Folks can be, as we know, in a deep and troubled space at times entering a constellation. It’s not the time for tech confusion on top of that.
What About Simpler Online Tools?
Actually, I do know of one of those. It was developed by our own Jane Peterson and Don Chitwood at the Human Systems Institute and is the online version of the little checkers they created called Relationships. In this, you can label, move around, and resize images of the checkers in a shared image space. It is 2D only, and without the richness of CoachingSpaces. But there really is next to no learning curve here. It’s simple and ready to go. Though, once again, I employ and teach several different methods for carrying out remote constellations, both of these online tools are important steps forwards. I believe they will become increasingly important as younger people begin to discover the profound benefits of constellation work.
CoachingSpaces Demo in San Diego?
Assuming the hotel wifi has the bandwidth, I’ll be offering an Open Spaces evening demo of CoachingSpaces at the San Diego Constellation Conference, and also be teaching about Home Altar Constellations in a session. Look for me and say hello. And really, consider attending this event, if you have not already decided. It is shaping up to be something special in the history of such conferences in the US. Just click on the banner below to get more information.
Michael Reddy, PhD, CPC, ELI-MP is an author, healer, certified coach, shaman, and strong proponent in the US of the family systems modality called Family Constellations. In addition to training practitioners, he helps people who have become trapped in chronic emotional or physical suffering recover their health and happiness