Field Notes: The Systemic Constellations Blog

The Latest News from the 2015 North American Systemic Constellations Conference, plus Featured Posts by Guest Bloggers.

Releasing It is an Illusion, Including it is the Solution

by Krista Jarrard

We as Constellators understand the core principal of inclusion to bring about resolution, however our clients and general public do not. To them it is a foreign concept to which we may not give enough weight. Inclusion appears to be hidden in plain sight in our work and up until now not really seen as that which allows the Constellation Work to be applicable to almost any modality or resolution practice. From my perspective Inclusion is a resolution practice, a practice of evolutionary proportions.

When we stand in the shoes of our clients, and tap into the collective conscience of North America we see that the old paradigm of forgiveness, still prevails. It is the lens through which the public seeks healing or resolution.

A common example is for a client to assure me they have “released” and therefore “forgiven” their relationship with whomever, or to whatever, only to quickly discover that is not the case.

The practice of releasing and letting go of something, sounds like a good idea, but rarely does it provide enduring solutions and an end to repetitive dynamics. In my experience until we integrate, and include all aspects of an issue, the releasing is just another form of exclusion; and exclusion is the basis of most ALL of our issues. If we stop to think, where exactly does it go when it is “released”? The it is usually something that has an energetic or emotional charge, and until we transform the charge, it will pop up over and over again. Maybe not in the same way, but some way or somewhere, we know IT WILL resurface.

IBlueCircleWEBn a Constellation of course we can literally see it. Energy has to go somewhere, and the beauty of the Constellation circle is that it shows right before our eyes. It becomes visible. Whatever the attribute or issue is, someone will start to hold and express it. We find that solutions and healing movements come from including what presents itself. Inclusion is what the issue requires, to be seen, acknowledged, and given a place.

So if releasing is an illusion, what about forgiveness? I began to research the deep roots of forgiveness throughout history and was shocked to find the answer to its limitation in the definition of the word. Forgiveness is defined as “to give up the desire or power to punish.” It became clear to me that engaging in traditional forgiveness, engages one in the same energetic trauma field that created the act in the first place. This is what creates an energetic imbalance. Traditional forgiveness being; “I forgive you” or “Please forgive me”. Observing how this keeps one in the victim/perpetrator cycle, it easy to understand why eighty-three percent of Americans polled shared, forgiveness eluded them even with coaching, meditation and prayer. I looked at this repetition systemically and discovered a hidden allegiance. It explains why one is continually drawn to return to forgiveness even when it doesn’t work, and causes distress.

ForgivenessThe client that experiences wonderful outcomes after a Constellation many times does not have the understanding of how, with that Constellation Work continues to be misunderstood and the practice of Inclusion not seen because the only frame of reference for the client continues to be forgiveness.

As trainers and facilitators we highlight every area of the core principles of the work, but rarely demonstrate the difference between inclusion and forgiveness. It is the act of Inclusion that discharges the energy and transforms the issue. Inclusion is the actualizing principal of the Constellation process. We understand this but our clients do not.

This understanding reveals the core of Inclusion is aligned with a unifying field that naturally brings together what had been separate. If we are on a path of conscience growth and evolution moving into a new paradigm of unity, Inclusion is the practice that paves the way to the peace and oneness we seek.

As we begin to bring inclusion to the forefront of our work we create a NEW frame of reference for our clients, and make our work more accessible.

When we experience a new relationship to inclusion versus forgiveness we receive a deep understanding of how uniquely Constellation Work is positioned to assist the current shift in consciousness beyond the antiquated paradigm of victimhood.

At the heart of this crucial awareness exists the new found ability to meet our clients and public within their frame of reference.

I look forward to presenting a workshop on this topic at the 2015 North American for Systemic Constellations in San Diego Friday Nov 13. The Radical Act of Inclusion, Moving Beyond the Limits of Forgiveness.


 Krista Nov 18 2010-3Krista Jarrard has been a dynamic force as facilitator, trainer and pioneer in the evolution of the Systemic Constellation work for over fourteen years. Krista brings a deep intuition and remarkable scope of wisdom to her practice with clients worldwide. With extensive training with Bert Hellinger, Heinz Stark, and Gabrielle Borken, Krista is passionate about supporting the current shift in consciousness by working with clients to transform their ener-genetic inheritance of the family linage. She has brought this multi-dimensional healing to clients around the world, and to international communities for awakening including CoreLight, and The School of Knowing in Tokyo, Japan. She is the founder of the Center for Systemic Healing, and creator of Healing at The Heart of the Matter Immersion Learning Program. Krista is currently completing her first book on Systemic Constellations “The Inclusion Solution, Moving beyond the Limits of Forgiveness ©”.

3D Online Avatars for Remote Constellations?

by Michael Reddy, PhD

Stage_1_Core_A_Shot_8_Dons_HeadacheThere 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.

Stage_5_Core_C_Shot_1_Gpas_Sentence_CroppedSo 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. 🙂 

CoachingSpaces–Some Pro’s

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.

Coachingspaces_Posture_DemoWhen 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_User_Interface_ExampleCoachingSpaces 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?Relationchips_Screen

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.Conference_Banner

MRheadshotBlueCroppedWeb_No_Background.jpgMichael 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

Gyrotonic Expansion System’s Role in “Embracing our Roots, Standing in our Strength”
by Cathleen Murakami
IRLPsideshow_24 have the amazing job of living on the premises of Rancho La Puerta Resort and Spa, a 3,000 acre+ resort in Baja CA, Mexico ( during the 4 days I work there each week as the Department Head of Pilates and the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM®.  
Provided with accommodation and meals as part of my employment package, I don’t drive, cook, clean, shop for food, or have to prepare (or clean up!) my meals.  I walk out of my house in the morning in the cool of the morning to RLPsideshow_6the beautiful surroundings of a sacred mountain where shamans are said to be buried.  Old oak groves surround the property, which is beautifully landscaped.  Our meals, which are primarily vegetarian mostly come from our organic garden.  Flowers, a vineyard, a labyrinth, and giant cacti are nestled into the meandering paths which lead to the various gyms, pools, and spa areas.  Beautiful Huichol Indian yarn murals are in many of the guests’ accommodations as well as our massive dining hall. Sculptures and glass embedded doors from James Hubbell and Jose Ignacio Castaneda are part of many of our buildings’ architecture.
Sometimes, I am overwhelmed with the beauty of this place, which has been in operation for 75 years!  I have been a fitness and movement professional for over 30 years and it has never been more clear to me how the body, mind, and spirit are intricately woven together within the common structure of the human body.  I can listen and watch how someone breathes and know more about them than what they tell me in words.  I observe how they hold themselves (bones) , the cadence and intonation of their speech (verbal expression), and listen with an inner radar to the content of their dialogue, and so much of who they really are comes into focus.  If a shift is to be navigated through the physical structure, a shift must also be made within the deeper layers of the psyche and the web that ties it to our lineage history – past, present, and future.
GYROKINESIS®which is the NON equipment branch of the work, is the amazing modality that is designed to awaken the senses (and not just the five!), open the third eye, and move energy up and out through the crown chakra all while staying anchored, in contrast to the outward expanding movement.  All this beautiful energetic flow, is fully supported by sound physical benefits, including joint lubrication, tissue hydration, internal organ massage, oxygenation of the entire body, spinal ease, muscular strength and flexibility and so much more! So perfect, that the name of this year’s conference is, “Embracing our Roots, Standing in our Strength”….a fantastic similarity to what I will be sharing in my workshop this year.
The rhythmic pulsating movements, supported by specific breath patterns all come together in one continual interconnected mandala that can reach into the past, draw into our present, and expand into our future – just as family systemic constellation does! Facilitators and representatives both will benefit tremendously to “clear out” the vehicle, our physical bodies, through which the work channels through, thus becoming of greater and “cleaner” service to all those with whom you share your selves with.
As we move in patterns of spirals, circles, figure 8’s, and continual undulations – we feel our own connectedness with life ……breathing in (and receiving) and breathing out  (and letting go).
Just like nature itself.
(View a beautiful 2 minute video of the Ranch here:

Cathleen Murakami

Cathleen Murakami

Cathleen Murakami is the Department Head of Pilates and the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® at the world renowned Rancho La Puerta Resort and Spa, located in Tecate, Baja CA, Mexico. Having a fitness career that spans over 30 years, Cathleen apprenticed under in London at the Alan Herdman Studio in 1991. She is GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® certified and has completed teacher trainings with Tim Miller and Erich Schiffman in yoga. Author of Morning Pilates Workouts, and several educational DVDs, you can also find Cathleen on Pilates Anytime with several mat and apparatus classes. A veteran presenter at conventions for over 20 years, she has trained and launched the careers of hundreds of teachers currently instructing Pilates.

In Brazil, Diversity in Systemic Constellations (or more than 300 ways to constellate)

By Gabriela Simionato Klein

After my first Family Constellations session, I went into a full immersion.

Just like many people who fall in love with constellations, I started reading all the books on the subject that I could put my hands on. I took advantage of every opportunity to participate in sessions and start dreaming about how to include this newfound philosophy in every aspect of my life. My natural curiosity — I am a trained journalist who has been working as public relations professional for the last 15 years – led me to investigate how the concept has been integrated to other professions and countries.

And when a work assignment took me back to my hometown of São Paulo, in Brazil, a national symposium on the subject was happening there at the same time, I registered to participate. Organized by the CBCS (Brazilian Community of Systemic Constelators or Comunidade Brasileira dos Consteladores Sistêmicos) the event united 150 attendees that benefited from hearing the experience of 30 speakers. Although figures are hard to come by, it is estimated that there are at least 2,000 and perhaps up to 3,000 facilitators in Brazil.

After experiencing Constellations in United States, where I have been living for the past decade, it was interesting to see how a different culture impacts the same concept. I would say with just a distinct shade of the same color.

Brazil is a country of intense miscegenation and syncretism. Intermarriage was common between native Brazilians, colonizers and Africans brought up as slaves, meaning that cultural beliefs have been intermingled and many lines of spiritual thinking are integrated on society.

By culture, Brazilians are also very comfortable in demonstrating passion. Some of the sessions seemed a little more dramatic in movement and expression that the ones I was used to, but this was not the most notable difference. Although the main questions that move people are the same, you can always find a different approach based on how you have been brought up. This diversity is amazing! Can you imagine how all the different ways to look at something can bring gifts of light and understanding that a unique approach could never grasp at?

Immensely popular in Brazil, the systemic constellation approach has been adopted by professionals from the most diverse areas. Of course, it fitted in with family therapists. But I was surprised to discover that a judge has been using constellations with success to diminish conflict and help on conciliations. And his approach already is being emulated by few others in the judicial system. Many facilitators are focusing in services to companies – from coaches to organizational consultants. Those who translated the method to a corporate environment created many products and interesting systems.

But for me, one of the most passionate applications in Brazil is the embracing of constellations by Spiritism, a spiritualist doctrine founded by a French educator under the pseudonym of Alan Kardek in mid-19th century and followed by 3 percent of the population in the country.

Spiritism sees us all as immortal spirits that temporarily inhabit physical bodies for several incarnations to achieve moral and intellectual improvement. Another important point in the doctrine is the belief that spirits can communicate through people known as mediums and in that way may have influence on the physical world. Followers usually gather to study, to talk with mediums, receive “passes” (a hand imposition blessing), and perform community work. Constellations sessions are common happenings at those gatherings. Furthermore, a Spiritist college is offering a post-graduate course on constellations.

Also as part of the religion ethos of energy work and doing good in the world, it is common to encounter clinics that offer spiritual treatments. As an example of how this view applies to a psychiatric treatment, I am sharing a video from the documentary “Crazy Wise” and let Dr. Dagmar Ramos explain her work. Dagmar is a Brazilian psychiatrist, homeopath and practitioner of Bert Hellinger’s Family Constellations and Barbara Brennan’s energy work.  She has been recently focused on helping addicts recover and is very active as a medium at the Spiritist Center “Ramatis” in the city of Goiania, in Brazil. To see the video:

And these are just a few examples of how constellations are unfolding in Brazil. This is the reason why I am eager to participate in the 2015 North American Systemic Constellations Conference Nov. 12-15 in San Diego. The list of presenters is exciting, as well the anticipation to meet with more than 300 participants that have been including systemic methodology in their line of work and in their lives.

I can’t wait to meet and learn from you!

Gabriela Klein

Gabriela Klein

Gabriela Simionato Klein is a Brazilian journalist who immigrated to the United States 10 years ago to accompany her American husband. Although working as public relations professional for a global non-profit, she is also searching for ways to include more of systemic constellations work in her life and use her skills in this field. She lives in Miami Beach, Florida.


Cultural Appropriation: When to Borrow from the Indigenous, and When Might It Offend?

By Karen Carnabucci, LCSW, TEP

In certain circles, there is a great deal of discussion about actions of “cultural appropriation,” the sociological concept which views the adoption of elements of one culture by members of another culture as negative and unsavory.

According to proponents of this concept, these cultural borrowings are problematic for a variety of reasons, not only for questions of cultural oppression and group identity but also claims of intellectual property rights. Because Bert Hellinger was inspired to create constellations after learning about the Zulus’ traditions of ancestor reverence, this question naturally arises from time to time.

It is not unknown for constellation facilitators to receive criticism for cultural appropriation, particularly when they are integrating various indigenous traditions into their presentations. Perhaps they are calling in the Four Directions at the beginning of the session, or using a talking stick to structure group sharing, employing an African djembe to drum out a rhythm during meditation or employing a Tibetan chant or prayer.

I asked Francesca Mason Boring, who is an author, international facilitator, teacher and lecturer, working with universal indigenous fields in family constellations for years, to share her thoughts and experiences on this topic.

She has supported development of constellation as ceremony, community constellations, and nature constellations and is a keynote speaker at the 2015 North American Systemic Constellations Conference Nov. 12-15 in San Diego and the author of Connecting to Our Ancestral Past: Healing Through Family Constellations, Ceremony and Ritual as well as Feather Medicine: Walking in Shoshone Dreamtime: A Family System Constellation and Coyote Dance. Her newest book, pending publication, is “Family Systems Constellation: A Straightforward Way, and Other Adventures in Human Systems.” She is also a bicultural person with Native American and European ancestry.

Karen: What are your thoughts about cultural appropriation?

Francesca Mason Boring

Francesca Mason Boring

Francesca: I know there is a time and place when we will all just support each other in growth, however that happens. Until that time, there will be places of challenge.

Over time I have learned that ceremony and ritual are universal and are essential for human beings.

It has also been something I noticed that for some, there is not the capacity for the depth of the indigenous fields from which ritual springs.  This is just a limit of acculturation, not a limit of the heart. In my workshops and training the presence of ritual and indigenous fields are clearly stated.

I don’t think many would be shocked if a constellation evolves into a community ritual, but perhaps I am also careful. For instance, I have often solicited others, particularly if there are clergy, or elders present; I honor the direction and inclusion of others who have a spiritual path that can support the participants. Not every group is the right place for ritual.

What might make it easier for a facilitator to introduce ritual into a group?

Give a very serious time and introduction in your opening.  Share that ceremony and ritual are universal.  Refer to my book or other resources you may know that acknowledge the presence of ceremony in all cultures.

That being said, it is a journey that many begin when they are called to ritual, to find what their own cultural ceremonial roots are.  To honor the origin of every tradition and ritual is important, because that is the place where “cultural appropriation” comes in. If I do not credit the roots of the ritual, I am stealing- I am not appropriating the respect of the roots of origin to the ritual.

How do we determine when the use of other cultural traditions may be painful, offensive or triggering?

When people use ritual and claim it as their own without honoring the roots or the history and culture from which they come, that is actually painful and inappropriate.  It is also good to educate people – for folks to understand that there is no place in the world in which human beings did not use these healing supports.  I think we have suffered without them.

In “Connecting to Our Ancestral Past” I write:

“Regarding the many ancestral healers who walked in Europe and other parts of the globe who intuited herbal cures and understood the healing power of simple human touch, I think they smile when they see the healthy grounded interest in ritual, ceremony and the use of the knowing field in Constellation Work and many other disciplines.”

How might we respond if we, as constellation facilitators, are criticized for our use of cultural symbols that are not part of our personal ancestry, for instance, the passing of a talking stick or a feather fan?

As with all teaching of the field, if there was an experience that had you question the effect, it may be that there is something in the presentation and holding of these gifts that you could reframe or be more articulate about.

These rituals and icons are what kept human beings alive when there was no other source of life force, when colonization and mechanistic Western paradigms would happily have seen those civilizations and beliefs extinguished.

If you really sit with the elements you are introducing, I am sure they will teach you. They are not toys, so a good question to ask is, “Do I have permission?”

I have also spent a great deal of time in exchange with people, when something has been uncomfortable for a participant I want to know what was uncomfortable, and why. I think it is important not to have an agenda, or a defense, but rather to feel into, what is in service?

Thank you. Let’s say that it is good for us to have this kind of conversation, right?

I just speak from my heart and my place, so for sure you could find so many other perspectives. As we know, who knows which is right?



Karen Carnabucci, LCSW, TEP

Karen Carnabucci, LCSW, TEP, is a psychodrama trainer, psychotherapist and constellations facilitator. She is a member of the steering committee for the 2015 North American Systemic Constellations Conference. She is the author of Integrating Psychodrama and Systemic Constellation Work: New Directions for Action Methods, Mind-Body Therapies and Energy Healing with Ronald Anderson, Healing Eating Disorders with Psychodrama and Other Action Methods: Beyond the Silence and the Fury with Linda Ciotola and Show and Tell Psychodrama: Skills for Therapists, Coaches, Teachers, Leaders. Learn more about her books, programs and services at