Thoughts on How to Language the Work that We do with Constellations
by Francesca Mason Boring
Language is a beautiful thing. In the development of family and human systems constellations, we are wakening to the need to language the work in a way that the client or the group can relate to.
Finding a suitable language will do much to move our work of constellations forward. Certainly, the 2015 North American Systemic Constellations Conference Nov. 12-14 in San Diego will allow opportunities to enter into numerous discussions, both personal and academic.
My observation is that having a “fixed” language or an oligarchy, quite popular in Western culture, is something that often excludes.
Language that looks and smells and feels like psychology for those who have affinity with that platform can be important. It is also important to recognize that there are a number of movements which are developing out of the limitations of that field and language: spiritual psychology, transpersonal psychology, expansion of ritual, and ceremony as an adjunct to those who are working with clients who have a need for something else. My impression is that the core principles of family systems constellation – described by Rosalba Stocco, MSW, RSW, as: Belonging, The Natural Order, and Balance – is comfortable in each of these developing approaches.
Avoiding an affectation of religiosity in communication is a good idea at any time, and perhaps not everyone should identify themselves as a shaman. We need to work within the space that is true for us. Perhaps I am one of the culprits in encouraging the expansion of application of constellation work. I continually encourage people to facilitate as they do. Not like Bert Hellinger, not like me, but in the way that their body, brain, soul and family system move with grace.
This work has significant potential in the field of social work. In this discipline, the primary target population is rarely the upper middle class clientele that many psychotherapists interface with.
Instead, social workers often interact with a very multi-cultural population. The acknowledgement of the beliefs, race, history, ethnicity and economic limitations of the family system at hand is essential in social work and happens to be easily included in systems constellation work. Of course, not all client bases in social work are the same; medical social work, for instance, usually does not deal with the same economic dynamics that are found in many community-based organizations.
Systems constellation work has also been used by medical doctors and massage therapists to identify family dynamics which threaten their client’s well being. I have been fortunate to witness the setting up of a constellation with the systems of the body for patients who were critically ill; the “field” and the representatives provided insights in the inner dynamics of the multiple systems which informed a treatment approach which otherwise might not have been considered.
The positive impact of a constellation regarding chronic intractable pain has been observed by a number of clients and practitioners who experienced the relief of discovering how their pain represented a systemic loyalty or a deeply traumatic family event.
Edward Beltran’s ground-breaking constellation work with pets was part of the foundation of Nature Constellations. Beltran, a veterinarian, had a platform for application and observation of constellation work being applied to human beings and their animal companions. The depth of grief at the loss of a pet can be revealed in a constellation as complicated grief, containing echoes of trans-generational or deep personal losses. I have seen a “systems constellation” resolve a question regarding a large stand of dying trees in a community. The insights in the constellation were later borne out by science.
One facilitator in Norway has used the work, as have others, with immigrant populations. Although this kind of investigation has a place in many family constellations in the United States, Canada and Australia, working in community outreach programs which serve particular immigrant influx begs use of community constellations, which are much akin to organizational constellations and supervision constellations. It is not a panacea to envision systems constellations being used in every school, hospital and corporation.
Constellation facilitator Sara Peyton, Ph.D., who has been heavily involved in brain research, has a wonderful conversation about the possibility that what actually heals human beings is empathy. There seems to be a real possibility that the primary questions and fears of every human can be appeased by another human being who is able to fully connect: “Am I safe? Do I matter?” Perhaps these are the questions of the brain and the soul.
This work, in whatever form, seems exponentially to increase the level of empathy – in the facilitators, the seekers, those in the circle and those who are touched on the far reaches of every system that has been visited.
Might we compare the developing language of systems constellation to music? Working in the Knowing Field has equal antiquity. Whether we are listening to classical music, jazz, ethnic music (which might require a familiar ear) or country western music, it’s easy for some aficionados of one type of music to look down on another. But many musicians – those who are deeply connected to music – are fascinated by every instrument and application of the field. It may not be that each is a virtuoso violinist, and not every violinist can play a mean washboard. However, none of those specializations threaten the existence and diversity of music. I am grateful to support each facilitator in his or her exploration of what resonates most with his or her body, mind and soul.
I’ll avoid any cliché about the North American Systemic Constellations Conference providing ample opportunity for facilitators and those who are attending in a place of open inquiry to make beautiful music together – almost.
Francesca Mason Boring is one of keynote presenters for the 2015 North American Systemic Constellations Conference Nov. 12-15 in San Diego, Calif. She is a bi-cultural author, international facilitator and trainer, an enrolled member of the Shoshone Nation and a graduate of Washington State University. Francesca facilitates Family Constellations, Constellation as Ceremony, Nature Constellations, and Human Systems Constellations. Learn more about Francesca at www.allmyrelationsconstellations.com.