Systemic Constellations Online. The essence of the method. The main difference from the classic Systemic Constellations
Why do we need online constellations? From the history of the creation of the method
Who would have thought that Systemic Constellations could be conducted online! After all, they require a constellation field, which is usually contained within the circle formed by the group. And the positioning of the representatives in space in relation to one another, and bodily contact with the client are also very important. But previously no one could even imagine constellations in an individual setting, as well as constellations with figurines.
But despite all possible objections, it would be a great loss to ignore customer expectations related to the accelerating technological progress. This opens up new opportunities and perspectives for professionals in the helping professions: they can provide their services remotely to those who need them. Modern advances in computer technology allow us to reach very different levels of work in this area. Nowadays, people are gradually getting used to receiving help (psychological help in particular), as well as knowledge, and communication with each other online. With today’s means of online communication, the great distance between the client and the therapist is a very weak argument for refusing to help the client. Experience has shown that online constellations were so much in demand that I (N.S.) had to take the risk. And… unexpectedly it has worked out.
Emergence of online constellations. A story by Natalia Spokoiniy
I did my first online constellation in September 2012. Lubov from Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia) came to me asking for help. Previously (since 2009) I have worked via telephone and Skype, as I hold seminars in different cities, and always assign homework and support the clients after the constellation for a certain period of time. Sometimes I even did small constellations this way.
Lyubov wanted to do constellation remotely for two reasons. The only constellation facilitator (constellator) in a 1000 km radius was in Tyumen, that is 13 hours by car away. In addition, Lubov had looked through the websites of many constellators and wanted to do a constellation with me. In her letter, she asked to work with her remotely, emphasizing that she trusted me very much and that my spiritually-oriented approach was close to her heart.
L.’s plea sounded so significantly to me that I couldn’t refuse. I warned her that this was the first time I was working in this format (online constellation in full). And in this case I was ready to experiment. L. agreed happily, apparently not really understanding what I was talking about.
At the time, I was in Moscow on a business trip with a laptop without a camera. I decided to invite one representative. It turned out to be very beneficial for both the client and me. Between the two of us, the work was far more productive, more accurate, and most importantly, it wasn’t as scary. We worked for about 3 hours. I had to verbally describe not only the sensations, but also the positions of the representatives in space (of both the people, and the objects in the room). To my greatest surprise, the effect of the constellation exceeded all imaginable expectations. Here is the feedback from Lubov.
Re: Feedback Lyubov Reply #23 on: Mon October 08, 2012, 07:39:58
I recently did an online constelltion with Natalia (via Skype). Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I’m doing the exercises you gave me after the constelltion, and the feeling of a lump in my throat has diminished. In my head, somehow, everything fell into place, it feels like I came out of the giant tornado, where I was being ground, and I now can see myself separate from it. I feel better. And I even believe that I will become a resourceful person again, and get back to my old cheerful self, and I will not call myself “grandma” even as a joke. When I imagine myself as small as a grain of sand, and there is a thickness of storming water above me, but it cannot sway me, I feel inner peace. I understand that I don’t need to resist and be afraid that I don’t have enough strength every time. Although there are a lot of thoughts in my head, they all cling to each other, but don’t grind me down anymore. THANK YOU!
This is how I realized that it is possible to do constellations online. Although it is not easy, the effect from this work, from my (N. Spokoiniy) experience, is not less, but in many cases even greater than in the classic constellations.
From my rather extensive experience in the field of systemic constellations, I can testify that working in an online format is not only possible, but very effective.
As experience shows, the constellation field is transfered into virtual space. This means that each participant projects it into their room, but the field still stays whole. You don’t have to be in the same room to sense each other. During online communication, representatives have the same feelings and sensations as in the traditional constellation, and these feelings are exchanged in exactly the same way. To illustrate, here is a feedback from my colleague N. from Khabarovsk (7,500 km from Berlin).
I want to share my experience of participating in a constellation webinar hosted by Natalia Spokoiniy. It took place a couple of years ago. I was interested in the topic and format of the webinar. I decided to give it a try. I took an active part in the constellation via Skype as a representative. It was an experimental approach, and I, like Natalia, was surprised at how clearly the client’s constellation field was formed. My sensorics and intuition are developed quite well, so it was not difficult for me on the webinar to place client’s figures in the space of my room. I liked the empathetic way Natalya worked with all the participants, representatives, and the client. Although we were all scattered around the world at the time, that didn’t stop her from successfuly carrying out her work. I had already been certain that information on ancestral structures is linked to the DNA carrier and has its own general informational ways of storing. By entering into resonance with the information field of DNA through the conductor of your body, it is possible to interact with any person and any ancestral structure, like through an internet network.The only limit is the degree of sensitivity of the person/constellation. This was interesting. Thank you, Natalia, for the opportunity to experience and observe how this works for other people!
Over the following years we have researched and refined this method. These descriptions are our attempt to introduce the reader to constellations in an online format. This article describes the process of online constellation and its unique features, it shows the possibility and advantages of working in an online group, as well as the main differences between online constellation and classic constellation, and the qualities of the facilitator required for this type of work.
How an online constellation is conducted. Description of the process
Preparing for work and its specificities
An online constellation takes place when the facilitator and the client, as well as the participants of an online group (if there is one), are all at their own computers. All participants of the online constellation use a special video conferencing program (currently we are using ooVoo), that allows you to see all the participants and make a video recording of the entire process.
The constellation itself follows approximately the same steps as the classic one. However, the way of conducting it is quite different.
The first specifics (nuances) emerge as early as at the interview and the formulation of the request. In the classic constellation, it is recommended for the client to sit to the right of the facilitator – the place on the right is always hierarchically higher, more important. This means that the client is the main character in the constellation, he is responsible for himself and his life. The facilitator is responsible only for the process. In online format, it is physically impossible to seat the client on the right, so the task of the facilitator is to use all possible (both verbal and non-verbal) means to give the client the feeling that he or she is a key person around here. The inner position of the facilitator is very important here: they should feel that they are only a guide, a helper – then everything will work out.
In a classic constellation, when forming a request, the eye contact of the client and the therapist is very important. This helps the client get to their primary feelings (these, unlike the secondary feelings, lead to action). Body contact between the therapist and the client is also very important. The lack of body and eye contact in an online constellation requires compensation. In IIS-Berlin we are constantly developing special methods and techniques to help the client maintain the state of presentness (“here and now”). Questions like “Say something off-the-cuff” (without thinking about it), what do you see in this/how do you feel…” or “Say the first thing that comes to your mind right now…” work well for that.
The constellation begins with an interview that the constellator conducts with the client in order to clarify the request. Since the success of a constellation is largely determined by the request (it should be relevant, directed towards life, and have a lot of energy in it), it is important to formulate it very clearly. The clarity is all the more important in the case of an online constellation, since it is difficult to conduct and usually lasts at least twice as long as a classic one.
From my experience, the formula “What do I have to do in order to…” works best here. This wording immediately puts the client in the mood to take responsibility for himself and his life.
It is important to convey to the client from the very start that the goal of our work is the restoration of a whole harmonious personality from spirit and intellect to emotions and body. The higher shapes the lower, the Spirit creates its own form. This is why IIS-Berlin’s constellations, especially in online ones, are centered on a Spirit-oriented approach: the therapy of the Soul is most effectively carried out with the tools of the Spirit. One of the most simple and effective tools for restoring wholeness is the author’s technique by N. Spokoiniy – 4-Part Body-Emotions-Intellect-Spirit Model for working with severe psychological trauma (generational trauma).
When the request is formulated, the facilitator offers the option(s) of possible work and places the client’s actual situation. This can be done in different ways, placing either the members of the System and the free element (e.g., Money, Symptom, Future Child) or structural elements, like internal parts, if we are working with the 4-part model.
Representatives in an online constellation. Assistance from representatives in formulating a request, and specifics of their positioning in the client’s field of vision
There are various ways of introducing representatives. They can be:
- the clients themselves, their body and their feelings;
- the constellator;
- real people;
- expressive items in the room (toys, souvenirs, figurines; chairs and other furniture; bags and backpacks; books, including those opened in a certain place; bottles; pictures and postcards; household appliances (for some reason especially often we use а vacuum cleaner – in the role of an aggressor or rapist), etc)
Information can also be obtained from various events, such as phone calls, things going on outside the window, behavior of animals, etc.
You can place a representative of a client while they are formulating a request. In addition, it is often advisable to introduce one or two key figures, such as a Symptom, a free element, a member of the client’s System, or client’s internal parts (in the case of work with the 4-part model, for example). Very often the client represents himself or herself (usually while seated), less often – other members of the system or free elements.
Since the client needs to see the representatives clearly, they (real representatives and objects in the room) are placed, if possible, in the center of the Field on a one-colour blanket. In this case, the blanket with the objects and people standing on it acts as a kind of spatial projection of the main part of the constellation Field. Thus the distance in an online constellation is highly compressed, limited by the size of the blanket. Often the facilitator has to additionally voice the real (as if the actions were taking place in an in-person group) distances between the deputies. For example, he says to the client and his representative: “You and your mother right now stand not half a meter apart, as you see it, but ten times farther”.
The progress of the constellation and its conclusion
In the constellation itself, it is recommended to move in small steps, maintaining close contact with the client or using questions like: “What is this for you? What are you feeling right now?”, or explaining to them what’s going on in the constellation, and asking them what they want us to do next. It is very important for the client to actively participate in the process. And the constellator also needs to keep track of the time and the client’s ability to understand what they see.
In the absence of human representatives, the constellation is similar to that of an individual setting ,only without the floor anchors. Instead, objects in a room of a constellator are used. Sometimes the client can create a copy of the constellation Field on his or her territory. In this case, the constellator compares the client’s feelings with their own, getting additional information this way.
Resolving phrases, bowing, and finding a solution are done in the same way as in the classic constellation.
At the final stage we discuss with the client the main stages of the constellation and the solution that has been found. If necessary, it is possible to carry out additional testing of the resources found and the new picture found through the constellation. At the end, we summarize the work done and clarify nuances. The client lets the representatives go out of the roles (if there were any human representatives), the items are put back in their places, and their original meaning is returned to them.
After that, the client is assigned homework. In the case of an online constellation, this is a very important and therefore obligatory element. It is recommended that for 7-15 days (depending on the duration and complexity of the work) the client receives supportive therapy for their homework and the consolidation of the results of the constellation. It is reasonable to offer the client online constellation in a package (you could call it, for example, “one-week” or “two-week coaching”), that includes preliminary interview, constellation, and supportive therapy.
It is recommended that for 7-15 days (depending on the duration and complexity of the work) the client receives additional therapy as support for their homework and the consolidation of the results of the constellation.
It gives the client a feeling of greater safety and security, and the therapist, seeing the results of the work, can make some adjustments, fine-tune or bring to the client’s attention the points they did not perceive quite adequately. In addition, it is a good opportunity for the therapist to gain additional experience, to see their strengths and weaknesses, and it provides a good basis for further growth.
Specifics of working in an online group
In an online constellation, we use 1-2 human representatives at most (the constellator and possibly one other person). The other roles are all represented in space by objects. When using online representatives, the role is represented simultaneously by the object that indicates the location in space, and the online participant who conveys feelings, sensations, etc.
Practice has shown that, regardless of the distance, representatives have a great sense of their role, no worse than offline representatives. The main distinction of the online representative is that they don’t stand in the Field, but usually sit in front of the screen. Sometimes it is worthwhile to ask them to duplicate whatever is going on in the constellation Field in their room. That way, they feel a better connection with the important figures.
It takes extra time and efforts, but is always very rewarding for both the client and the representative. We proceed from the notion that everyone stands in their own “roles,” i.e., the role is always related to the members of the representatives’ System and the events in it. And by helping the client, they help themselves. Another miracle of the constellation work.
Therefore, in an online constellation, several mini-copies of the constellation Field (or parts of it) are created, often located in different parts of the planet.
More than ten years of experience conducting (approx. 9000) online constellations have shown that the representatives with their corresponding roles and feelings, regardless of location, are included in an unified constellation field, i.e. representatives in different parts of the world that stand in the same places (in the same roles) have the same feelings.
I will illustrate this with the following example from my first experience of conducting a constellation in an online group.
On December 21, 2012, I decided to celebrate the expected “end of the world” with my first work in an online group. Generally, the role was represented at the same time by an object that was indicating the location in space, and the online participant who was conveying feelings, sensations, etc. I can’t help but share the amazing result of my work on this momentous day. I began the work with placing the four inner parts – Body, Emotions, Intellect, and Spirit. The representative of the Body was a woman, L., in my room. She cuddled Emotions, which were a large bag of posters with pictures, portraits of people in various emotional states.
In the online group, in the role of Emotions, there was another woman, N. Suddenly N. says, “I want to take two steps back”. I looked at Emotions (the bag). L. moved away from it by two steps. I asked L. (the Body), where Emotions should stand relative to her now? She replied that she wants to remain holding them, she just got carried away by the constellation and forgot to.
When the Body embraced Emotions again, N. said that now she feels good. It should be noted that L. was sitting half-turned to the screen and was shielding the bag (Emotions) with herself. Neither N. nor the client could see the bag. For me it was another miracle of the constellation work. In the online format, the important information comes just as comprehensively as it does in a classic constellation.
In classic constellations, there are instances in which the representative transmits ambivalent feelings, in which case we introduce a second figure, usually with a “cataleptic hand,” and transfer this dynamic (role) to it. In the case of online constellations, we don’t need to do this – we just introduce another representative and give them their appropriate role by voice. This works just fine.
Actually, the difference between real and online representative is quite significant. An in person representative has more freedom of movement and action, since he sees the entire constellation field at once and in its entirety. And in an online constellation, you have to adjust to the format of the camera and its field of view, so that the client can see the bulk of the field, including object-representatives. In cases where part of the constellation field does not fit on screen, the client is given a verbal description of what is happening, which naturally slows down the process even more.
The constellator and the main representatives should always be able to keep the entire constellation field in sight, and this means several windows on the screen at once (sometimes up to 7-10). If there is only a small number of people in the group, experienced online representatives can be placed in two roles simultaneously and switch fairly quickly from one to the other. Sometimes the left side of the body represents one role and the right side another. But that’s the highest level – that’s what we train our students to do.
In the course of the constellation, the representatives can give feedback if it appears as a resonance to certain words of the client. Most often they do this in two ways: either by raising their hand or by voicing a need for feedback. And the constellator has his or her own specific non-verbal set of gestures that everyone understands without words, which makes it easier to manage the process and not waste extra time and energy. When working with object representatives, it is important to move them in space slowly – this allows the client to have a better grasp on the new material, and to be in close contact with what is going on.
Qualities required for the online constellator
Compared with the classic one, an online constellator must have a number of additional abilities and skills. Just like in an individual setting, or in a small group with not enough representatives, the constellator has to take on one or more roles. He must be able to:
- combine two functions: representative and constellator;
- simultaneously be in a role, and keep the focus on the whole constallation field and the client;
- switch very quickly from one role to another.
This resembles a single-actor puppet theater. The actor works with several puppets, holding two (or sometimes more) at the same time. Likewise, the constallator stands in a role, sometimes holding an object-representative in front of the screen, and tells the client how they feel in this role, and also give their commentary as a constallator. Then they put that object back and take another while getting into their given role.
Obviously, this kind of work requires good intuition, the ability to ground yourself instantly, and the ability to switch from the spiritual-intuitive level to the intellectual, emotional, physical and vice versa. At first glance, it seems that only very few people are capable of this. But that is not the case. Our experience shows that it is possible to develop these abilities. And we teach this at IIS-Berlin. Everything comes from experience and personal practice. Although it’s not that easy.
It is especially important in this line of work to understand that we are dealing with the laws of the Spirit. And not everything can be studied or understood intellectually. For online work, the Spirit-oriented approach to psychotherapy and Systemic Constellations is extremely important. An online constellator can work effectively only when they have sufficient spiritual experience and are guided by the highest values. When they are able to “bring heaven to earth” or, in other words, help the client look at their problems from another dimension, and understand what they really mean. And if the client wants to change something (and only in this case) – help them take the first step in that direction.
It is not an easy job, but it is very much in demand and therefore rewarding. Moreover, it connects people in different parts of the world in an amazing way and provides the client with a wide range of experts of different specialties. Moreover, it is much easier to carry out constellations in international groups this way.
A translator can be in their own city, at their own computer. We know how important the quality of the translation is for the Systemic Constellations. It is very difficult to find a good interpreter who knows the constellation terminology and has a sense for the nuances of the work. And it’s all the more difficult to bring one to the right place. In the online format, the constellator can work with any interpreter he trusts, which makes it possible to work in different languages with clients from all over the world.
The outlined points, firstly, confirm the importance of online constellation work, especially for those clients located far from the constellation centers. Secondly, they highlight its right to co-exist with classical constellations.
Despite the absence of body contact, and full eye contact with the client, the classic circle in a shared space formed by group participants, the constellation field not only exists in the online format, but has the same properties as in the classic version of work. Moreover, it is possible to work properly not only in an imaginary and individual setting, but also in an online group. During this process, a copy of a single constellation field is created in each participant’s territory – the representatives in different parts of the world experience the same sensations in the same places.
My (N. Spokoiniy) 10 years of experience in conducting online constellations has confirmed their effectiveness, which sometimes many times exceeds the effectiveness of classic constellations. I cannot provide a scientific explanation for this phenomenon yet, but I think the following is very important. Due to the slower course of the process, the client is more aware of what is going on in the constellation. Moreover, the focus of the constellator’s attention is directed much more towards the client, rather than on the numerous representatives, and this allows for a better contact between them. To confirm this, below we will provide a couple of feedbacks from my clients.
Since the method is quite new, we thought it was our task to introduce the reader to its basics and its first results. We would be grateful for feedbacks, comments, and suggestions on how to improve the method.
Today, I (N. Spokoiniy) successfully use online constellations for complicated cases, such as severe trauma, as well as integral constellations (the client voices several most important requests, and we look for “the common denominator”, the thing that unites everything). Check out one of the recent feedbacks on the results of the integral constellation conducted online (from Yekaterina, U.S.A.). But that’s the topic for the next article.
From feedbacks on online constellations
Lyubov, 08.01.2014, Moscow
I had a difficult situation in my life when I had to choose between two men. I approached Natalia with a request to conduct an online constellation of this situation via Skype, because I live in Moscow and Natalia is in Germany. I came to the constellation having a few doubts about the effectiveness of working online. Natalia was very quick to make me feel at ease. In addition to Natalia, there were two other people who participated in the constellation. The constellation lasted about three hours and on that day instead of one constellation Natalia conducted about 7. She saw that I could endure such intense work. After the constellation, I felt energized and excited. It seemed that I had no problems at all. Natalia was very concerned about me, and called me every day, coaching and helping me through certain situations and giving me assignments to work on my own. And I had to go through a lot. Sometimes it was really hard, I felt restructuring inside of me, as if I was being taken apart and glued back together again. I wanted to go back to my previous state before the constellation. I felt that something in me had changed and that it was something foreign, alien, not mine. When I did my homework, I felt the tremendous help of my ancestors, the rush of strength. After a while, I began to notice that I would react differently in various routine situations. These were the reactions of a new person. And I like them very much!!! Now when a depressive feeling comes over me, I take it easy with complete peace of mind, knowing that it will pass quickly, and it does go away really fast. And before, I used to fall into this feeling for a long time and it was very painful. I noticed that my father started treating me differently, with more attention. The relationship between my parents also changed, became more intimate or something like that. I made a choice in the situation I came to Natalia with. And even though I have not voiced that choice yet, inside of me it has already been made and I am sure that very soon everything will be resolved.
I want to express my deep appreciation and gratitude to Natalia.
Victoria, 18.10.2012, Hanty-Mansijsk
My colleague advised me to address Natalia. My request was a baby: I wanted to have a baby.
The constellation was done by Skype! Frankly speaking, I was worried and I doubted the result. However, everything was fine, and I had an absolute feeling that we were near each other.
I feel “at home”after the constellation session. I feel protected, harmonious, and calm. I have even become more confident. I have started to think and to put things in order in my mind and in my family, to accept my loved ones without reproaches and pain – just as they are.
I do my homework, like Natasha said – I think if I’m going to do something, I should do it properly! I do my homework twice a day and last night before I went to bed, I had thought of these relatives and saw three of them. I mean they were together, like in a family photo, but they were smiling at me. Smiles with their eyes again – those wrinkles in the corners of their eyes. They (their faces) were at the same time
young, but their eyes (the look) were like those of people in their old age, the way grandparents look at their grandchildren and children, with a kind of wisdom.
love and calmness.
I can see even changes at my work. I have noticed that my boss no longer irritates me.
This is surprising for me, because I usually cannot stay next to her for a long time – that breaks me down to pieces. And now I am so calm… 🙂 I’m just taking her as a fact.
I have become more confident: the most important thing for me is to accept and love myself, as I used to doubt and analyze everything within myself.
It seems to me that the effect of systemic constellation is getting revealed gradually.
Natalia, thank you for your invaluable work!
In addition to Victoria’s story, about 4 months later, Victoria became pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl in November 2013.