Family Constellations FAQs
Family Constellations works from a phenomenological perspective in attempting to work with ‘not knowing’. This means in attempting to not have an intention in terms of outcome for the client. In not having an intention the Knowing field of the system will be free to open up and find its own perception from each of the people concerned and also the overall bigger picture. To show perspectives from several different angles, situations or individuals in allowing a bigger picture to arise. The bigger picture may present a different view to that which we may have expected, or to the choices we may have made.
Looking at the situation from a different perspective is often all that is necessary to allow a person to move forward.
How Phenomenology is used in Family Constellations
This has proven to be a highly valuable principle in the therapeutic process for both the client and the therapeutic relationship especially in the Family Constellation process. The therapist attempts to stay out of the equation and does not have the attitude of ‘knowing what‘s best’. He or she attempts to see the situation outside of their own perspective, to allow a non-judgmental attitude as far as is possible towards the client and his or her life. This is very respectful in providing a level playing field in terms of our joint humanity. Of course this is a fine line, as the client is coming to the therapist for help and the therapist has more knowledge and experience in therapy than the client, however if the therapist can put aside their ego, it is possible to approach the client as one human being in the service of the other for the therapeutic process.
This framework of phenomenology in the therapeutic process, also comes from the belief that each of us has the capacity and resources to resolve our own problems to the level that is right for us, at any given time.
Smith D W 2013 (cited 2016) in his article about Phenomenology said,
“ Basically, phenomenology studies the structure of various types of experience ranging from perception, thought, memory, imagination, emotion, desire, and volition to bodily awareness, embodied action, and social activity, including linguistic activity. The structure of these forms of experience typically involves what Husserl called “intentionality”, that is, the directedness of experience toward things in the world, the property of consciousness that it is a consciousness of or about something. According to classical Husserlian phenomenology, our experience is directed toward — represents or “intends” — things only through particular concepts, thoughts, ideas, images, etc. These make up the meaning or content of a given experience, and are distinct from the things they present or mean.”
Coming from this perspective means that we don’t judge people as good, bad, right, wrong, but rather, simply as people much like ourselves. This means that in listening to the story that people have of themselves we need to be mindful that this is only a perception. Hence in Family Constellations we prefer to keep the story short and to the point where possible and for the client to clearly state their issue, particularly in a workshop. We may ask for the facts of the situation such as how many children in the or family and where they are in the family, or were there any tragic deaths, separations, emigration or any other shocking events in the family that they know of. These are facts that may have significance to the family system. It is not helpful to know that Dad was always a grumpy person. The energy of the representative may reveal a very different impulse for Dad, that may help the client to perceive a different or bigger picture of her father. If participants have heard along story of woe from the client it is hard for them to stand as representatives and not be affected by the story, rather than allowing themselves to experience what they are sensing in their role as representative in the Knowing Field. This could change the constellation considerably in not allowing the real feelings and impulses from the system to emerge to be viewed, expressed and released.”
Smith D W. Phenomenology Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2013) cited 2016 http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/phenomenology/ USA