Robyn passed away on the 19th of August 2019.
I am a Systemic Family Constellations facilitator and teacher of this work. I run regular 1-day workshops and 2-day learning groups through the year. I work with clients individually and also, when requested with small organisations, in fact within whatever setting presents itself.
The Constellations work presented itself to me in 2002 and I have been immersed in this Systemic Family Constellations work since then.
I had moved to Cape Town (from Johannesburg) in 2000. While feeling my way into the new space, the landscape and energy of mountain and sea, I deepened my theoretical learning of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the practical, experiential hands-on body work that grew out of TCM, named Shiatsu.
In between walking on the mountain every day, swimming in the sea, and whale watching, I setup a body-work practice in Kalk Bay.
A serendipitous stumble
Towards the end of 2002 I stumbled across a flyer announcing a family constellations workshop being held in Cape Town. It sounded like a role playing-type exploration of one’s family. I groaned inwardly as I read the faxed invitation; I felt that I needed a break from dealing with me and my family. The reason that I decided to book myself a place, was because the friend (Katherine) who had brought me the flyer was so excited about what she had experienced the previous weekend. There was obviously something different happening here.
A new way of working
I went to that workshop. I had no idea what was going on, but before the first constellation was even half way through I knew that I was going to use this tool in my work, that in fact it was exactly what I had been looking for without conscious knowing. This was the way in which I was going to work with another, and impact many others at the same time.
For this work is systemic. It touches not just the person who is being worked with but the whole family system, present and past. It is systemic, relational and generational.
Experience & Formal Family Constellation Training
My core training was done through Family Constellations Africa (FCA). The initiation of the training here in South Africa came primarily from Ursula Franke. Ursula was invited to South Africa by a Gestalt therapist, Beulah Levinson to facilitate Family Constellations workshops, one of a series in 2002 in South Africa.
Ursula in turn encouraged her German Family Constellations colleagues to visit South Africa to facilitate open workshops during 2003 and 2004, which I organized in Cape Town. And then in 2005, Ursula together with Svenja Wachter and Tanja Meyburgh created Family Constellations Africa (FCA) to hold and run the first formal 2 year South African training.
The formal training in South Africa began in 2005. Dr Ursula Franke was the Training Director for this first Foundation Training. The training ran over 2 years 2005-2006 and comprised 9 x 3 day modules, with a total of 216 hours.
Our trainers were:
Dr Ursula Franke; Dr Frank Gallenmüller; Dr Guni Baxa; Stephan Hausner and Johannes Schimdt.
Ongoing trainings attended
FCA Foundation Training 2005/2006 & continuing advanced trainings 2007/2008
International Systemic Constellation Association (ISCA) 7-day trainings Bernried Germany: 2008; 2010 & 2013
African Constellations continuing advanced trainings with international trainers (2 & 3 days):
2011; 2013 & 2014 plus each year to present year of 2018, many hours of advanced training workshops run by other visiting senior facilitators.
Moving Constellaions, UK 2015 with Judith Hemming
The Whole Partnership, UK 2015 with Edward Rowland
Before the Foundation Training 2005-06 during and after I have continued attending open workshops and other trainings. The most important of these trainings, in terms of exposure to facilitators who worked with Bert Hellinger in the early days of the development of family constellations work, has been the annual week long International Intensive Workshop on Systemic Resolutions (ISCA), held at Bernried, Germany. Here a participant experiences this work in its many forms and styles, with a faculty of first and second generation trainers.
A practicing facilitator is expected to attend regular workshops and advanced trainings. And this is is what I still do. Between that workshop in 2002 and 2005 when our first South African formal 2 year Foundation Training began, I have attended many hours of open workshops, with the visiting first and second generation German facilitators /trainers.
Background and journey into family constellations
Below are listed some of the other ways of working with others, learnings and practices that are part of my 28 years of experience working with others. And of the varied trainings that have all flowed into, informed and enriched my constellation work and how I approach and use it.
Witwatersrand Hospice : In 1990 did a one-year counseling course with Johannesburg Hospice. Here I worked as a volunteer counselor with bereavement clients and terminally ill patients until 1993.
BA Unisa : 1993 Majors Psychology & Philosophy
Bodywork practice : 1998 to present, is rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The underlying philosophy is phenomenological and of course, systemic. Each individual is seen not just as an individual standing alone in the world, but as a person standing “between heaven and earth”, within the context of family and place (a truly systemic view of self and other in the world).
Family Constellations : 2002 to present. This is the modality that I use now with individuals and groups. This systemic constellations work is my passion. Opening up a space to allow love to flow again, in the family. Each piece of work that is done with either individual or group or community has a reach far beyond the one person who brings the presenting issue.
ComaCare : 2006 – 2009, overlapping part of the second year of my Family Constellations Foundation training, I worked as a counselor for ComaCare. This is an organisation based then at Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town, working with coma patients in varying states of altered consciousness. We first worked in the Neurological High Care ward, and later were allowed into ICU. I also worked with the families of the patients whenever possible.
The 3 levels of training that I did with Jan Webster at ComaCare were based on Amy and Arnold Mindells’ Process oriented coma and near-death work (a close parallel to constellation work).
In preparation …..
The 28 years of working with another, has been varied and enriching. However 2o of those years was working directly with the body; this has heightened my ‘felt’ sense of another, and has over those years layered and deepened my intuitive sensing.
The bodywork has held, overlapped, fed into and informed my family constellations work. Systemic Constellation Work (SCW) is experiential and body-based; lived history is stored in the body, and new information is accessed by the body (and the 5 more traditionally known sense organs). The widening and deepening of a body awareness more easily enables a process of embodiment. This in turn enables access to the somatic history stored in the body.
Those years of bodywork ‘prepared’ me for my first experience of family constellations in 2002.
Profound and far reaching change
And I remain committed to this work because of the profound change that it can help facilitate. It is a modality that lays bare the inter-connectedness of us, within our family, within our work setting, within our community. Each piece of work that is done with either individual or group or organisation has a reach far beyond the one person who is worked with.
My wish is to continue spreading the constellation work out into many more settings. Particularly into organisational and institutional settings: schools, prisons, local government. These are the settings where the insights and shifts that occur in a constellation session can feed policy and decision-making which in turn allow all belonging to a system to share in a more balanced functioning.
Trainers experienced since 2002 to the present 2018
Some of the trainers whom I have experienced over the years of being in the work include:
Dr Ursula Franke; Dr Frank Gallenmüller; Dr Guni Baxa; Stephan Hausner and Johannes Schimdt; Francesca Mason Boring; Gunter Weber; Sneh Victoria Schnabel; Judith Hemming; Christine Blumenstein-Essen; Jane Peterson; Albrecht Mahr; Jakob Schneider; Marianne-Franke-Gricksch; Jan Jacob Stam; Bertold Ulsamer; Edward Rowland.
With huge gratitude to each for the generosity in their teaching of this extraordinary work.