A Facilitator’s Thoughts
A Facilitator’s Thoughts
In the last year or so I’ve been particularly interested in my own constellation process over the years in relation to how I am as a facilitator now. Nothing unusual in that, of course, for any facilitator. But as I continue with group workshops, this self-reflection on the process itself, not what I discovered from my self-enquiry, has made me increasingly sensitive to the exposing nature of group work and the potential it holds for shaming whatever experience of the work you have, and even potential paranoia when you first meet the work and see other participants appearing to get at you rather than as part of your psyche.
In your own IoPT self-exploration it can feel exposing not so much in the resonance of others in the words or images of your intention (resonance I believe you can trust) but more to how that person expresses that resonance. In the silent stage this may be less so but once you are receiving information from those resonating with the words of your intention, you may experience more than you can personally handle at the time. A perpetration from the representative of your word. Of course, you can say this is what is happening in your psyche, what you do to yourself. But is this completely true and are you ready to see it ? Is one resonator more prone to strong expression and another more witheld in how they express the resonance?
Given that you are in a vulnerable place during self-enquiry, often a much younger place, you are certainly less likely to exercise self-care and autonomy when another resonates strongly – something we emphasise so much in our work. Why? Because in the end it is someone else’s expression of your psyche, not your own. In 1:1 work this is not the case. You explore yourself and your own body sensations, feelings and thoughts and give yourself the time you need. There is more self-care and autonomy and less potential for shaming.
During others resonating for a word of my intention, I have received extremely difficult information, harsh and aggressive words, rigid application of another person’s understanding of the theory, rather too easy labelling of this part of myself and often an excessive amount of drama in the dynamics between parts. This at times has been disturbing, destabililsing, shaming and brought me to experience emotionally and physiologically the original trauma in an unhelpful way.
This personal experience has taught me that a client needs to feel and connect with the emotions of the young baby or child, often frightening, in a safe, well-held therapeutic group. This is exposing enough. Any easy labelling by facilitator or representative (who may have come out of resonance briefly), any harsh theorising of who we are actually repeats identity trauma- we are reduced to a theoretical object – an object of another- and we feel perpetrated as such. I too have resonated in the same way myself in the heat of holding strong emotions in a resonance especially with the method of waiting to be asked we have now, which I still consider a better method than the free-for-all of many constellation methods.
Now you might say harsh, agressive, and an abusive manner in resonance expression is important in order to see just what you do to yourself on a daily basis, for us to truly see our survival, traumatised and healthy parts. That may be so if you are ready to see that. But for me personally I can remember many constellations in large groups where I felt so confused, frightened, overwhelmed, powerless intimidated by the way others resonated that I was unable, in the middle of it all, to see, be with and feel the parts that needed to be seen. I was back in the trauma experience of the young child unable to find the adult in me to say stop, to slow the experience down. That does not mean there weren’t major integrative shifts in me as I gave time to the processing alone in the days that followed. But it does mean at times I felt extremely unsafe and often untrusting in group work where resonance felt extremely aggressive verbally or where people were free with their own interpretations, categorical or factual about what happened to me. Fortunately I have not taken facts from resonators as the only possible truth.
However, facts and statements from facilitators, given you are often in the disempowered place of a child, can be more damaging. When you are back in that place of trauma in a constellation everything you are told can feel like the truth. Sexual assault or any other major perpetration can belong to your biography but perhaps be something you hold from a generation before. It is, I believe, not to be taken too literally, especially if it doesn’t seem your truth but more belonging to another.
How much we take or don’t of what we see as our truth changes as we know ourselves more. Not so easy for someone new to the work or who takes all information given as factual and doesn’t hold possible interpretations. As facilitators I think we are safer in the language of possibility or questions. After all we don’t know for sure and it’s complacent to think otherwise.
It took many years to hold the autonomous adult I am in my process as I met the parts of my psyche. My experience of being the youngest of seven children and having to choose seven words for my Intention has often felt as if I am stepping back into the family trauma field of some of my childhood and made me less able to keep with myself. Recently I heard a new participant at my workshop say during coffee break: “No wonder people say this work is so exposing” and I knew exactly what she meant. Group work is exposing and can put many new people off. The ground rules that stress self-care and autonomy may not always feel possible in the process and it’s important facilitators are aware of this when they see it. The ground rule of non-abuse of ourselves or each other may not be present when it comes to abuse from a resonance. However sensitive a facilitator is, the group has its own dynamic in each person’s constellation.
The deepest, clearest and most integrative work I have done for myself has been in 1:1 sessions with trusted facilitators or IoPT colleagues face to face or online, or insupervision groups that are small by nature.
I am committed to online work because it focuses the attention on the markers and the marker placed for the client working. It is so much about the client and not about the dynamic or collective ego of the group.
My sense now is that a facilitator is there to hold the group, support an understanding of the process when someone is new, silently support the client as they receive information from the parts. maybe repeat what they may not have heard if asked, make phenomenological observation perhaps. I think a facilitator needs to be wary of interpreting or saying categorically this was how it was.
We’ve all done these things over the years, we’ve all got caught up in the self-enquiry of a client, or how the theory fits, and we’ve all reflected on the things we could have facilitated differently. In continuing self-reflection we are learning to be healthy facilitators.
However, reflecting deeply on our own process during group and 1:1 constellations, not what we found out in our self-enquiry but how the process was for us, we can get a lot of insight into how to facilitate with sensitivity, as well as hold professional love and respect for a client’s courage and healthy intention to find out about themselves through the IoPT process.
In the end the process must not prove the theory but the process develop the theory. The theory is in the end only a developing objective, empirical theory. We are not objects of it, nor are our clients. After all, we are looking at how we have been made objects in our biography.
It is important this theory offers understanding to what we experience in the work and that we keep open about it as we should with all scientific observation. It is always in a state of change, as we are. The process needs to be about us, who we are and what we can take at the time we choose to enquire about ourselves. And the facilitator hopefully holds the humility of not knowing as well as holding the theory.