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.

That blasted rock

So you think we're here to  be nice
here to be nice and happy
turn away from what's sad and crappy
hold on to our dummy and nappy
keep tight to a place of security
in this traumatising society
deluded by commercial ads
and the latest fads that preoccupy.
Nice and happy, you and me
mesmerised by fantasy?
Shall we cling to the myth that love will free
without need to explore
what I do to you and you to to me
which we both may experience differently?

It's not that the sun doesn't shine for us
but the clouds come all too soon
and we have to be open to explore
talk to each other, ask ourselves more
hold ourselves near, listen and hear
what it is that holds us to this rhyme and tune
which becomes discordant far too soon.
What we need from each other
to help us re-cover,
not grumble and moan
nor fear to discover, fear to take stock
of what's hidden in you under that stone -
which is more of a rock.

Aren't you afraid that with the ticking of the clock
the fuse may go off
and shatter that rock in a hundred pieces
fragments for you to pick up?
Great railroad blast heard from afar
wakes up the past
as the horn whistles and the line rumbles
at carriages rattling fast.
And parts of yourself scattered
in the sound of the distant explosion
earth's erosion.
Pieces forgotten you thought had been lost
years before in an earlier time
that polished enough can be seen again
free of dullness free of stain.
Not without pain of the loss of them
long ago in the infant pram
the loss of yourself found here on the ground
splits in that time bomb and blast.

Fragments of diamonds lie in the dust
some rust of course
and if you pick them up
and make them one
this precious gem you now can reclaim
is yours for the taking back again.
And if I walk beside you and do the same
Then again we can truly make love by the moon
Give you new name and me new name
And know that the sun will come out again.

© KC as Allie Rocket 28/5/2019

Who to be not How to be? Identity Constellations – the IoPT Way?

How do we start a healthier relationship with ourselves and the world?

It is the challenge of today that we all become more embodied, and question the preoccupation with the head and the rational at the expense of our body, which holds so much innate wisdom. There are endless Self-help Programmes out there about How to Be but actually this fosters concepts, structures, ideas, and distracts us from becoming more embodied. It ignores the one thing that will change our world and that is to discover Who we Truly especially in relation to the environment that, through acquisition, we are so happy to abuse. Not what our success-driven culture tells us we should be but who we are, what we bring to the world and what kind of world we want to live in. An embodied identity.
And the only way we start a healthier relationship with ourselves is through the body, the feelings -and the trauma memories it holds. On the path to embodied living we feel the frozen parts of ourself that are a result of trauma, we see how our survival parts ( so very necessary at the time of the trauma)  inhibit us and no longer serve who we may be.

 Why do we need so much to become more embodied?

We become more grounded and secure as we become more  focused on a core sense of ourselves. This helps eliminate  anxiety and fear – mental activities.  This will challenge a  world where medicalizing depression, anxiety ‘disorders’ etc is the norm and as a practice on such a wide scale affects wildife, soil quality and drinking water as anti-depressants are thrown into landfill.
It helps us breathe better increasing circulation and oxygenisation and making our immune system stronger. This helps with stress –  in a stressful situation we can bring our attention  back to our body more and breathe through it. We are also more aware of what triggers our stress which again is often our very early experiences.
We start feeling more harmony and balance within and in our relationship with the outside world, especially nature. It brings a stronger sense of core self which can respond better to all life throws you.
We become more in touch with our emotions and are not so afraid of expressing our genuine feelings. We literally warm up – a defrosting of frozen trauma.
We start feeling greater connection to others as we connect to ourselves more deeply and so feel less alienated, less lonely – a problem endemic in modern society.
We become our own person as we begin to know ourselves through embodied experience and so become less dictated to by family, social and political hierarchy and rigid thinking.
We become more intuitive and creative as we listen to our body more acutely.

Why is Identity Constellations such an effective  tool for embodiment?

Identity Constellations or Identity-oriented Psychotrauma Therapy  is an embodied experience of somatic resonance where the body itself gives us the information. It is in the head where we hold the loop of past stories which we can become over-absorbed in when we go to talking therapy.  Stepping out of our head and stories and into a more embodied identity – exploring who we are and want to be in the world – which actually brings calm, a connectedness with ourselves and others, a living-in-the-present.
 The body holds trauma from our past, especially infant, preverbal trauma inaccessible to our cognitive memory.  When we experience a trauma, we feel overwhelmed, powerless and that  our life depends on surviving at all costs. In order to do this we go into a trauma state, freeze, and split in our psyche. The trauma is buried in our unconscious, locked in a frozen state in the body. Our psyche splits into 3 parts: the traumatised, surviving and healthy parts.
In IoPT, through the resonance of others we can access our body-centred thoughts, feelings and sensations helping release, feel and express these younger parts that have been so locked in. By giving them voice, seeing them for the first time and starting to connect with them, we begin the reintegration of the psyche, and with each part of ourselves we see, we find shifts in how we perceive ourselves happening in a very embodied way, often days or weeks later.
IoPT can result in a completely new way of being in the world, with new focus, confidence and self-awareness. With each constellation, or in the resonance of another’s constellation, we can start feeling healthier and more authentic in being with others.

Is there a point where there is no point any longer?!

IoPT is a gentle, step-by-step way of claiming who we are and it is never too late to start. As we get older, we may find the surviving parts of ourself just don’t seem to hold it together like they did. Once you retire or maybe your children leave home, you lose those identities that may keep you from  having to face yourself. The sense of redundancy which can bring emptiness, where the survival patterns begin to fragment and crack up a bit. It is the Leonard Cohen “crack” where the “light gets in”, if you allow it and start some self-enquiry.
If we distract ourselves in later years by taking on an agenda as busy as our working lives, of course, we might avoid the light which comes with self-enquiry.  So often what is locked in – unresolved trauma, unseen and unexpressed – comes out through illness and begins to show itself in older age. So resolving  what our body holds is a healthy way to be in harmony with who we are in our senior years and brings  peace, meaning and the wisdom of being connected more to the earth at this point in our  life.
Resolving early trauma is not about keeping in the past, it is about  stepping out of the past to be the person we become when we claim ourselves. it is to feel fully in the present. It brings a mental plasticity to our ever-evolving identity and avoids the rigidity that can come with older age. It is never too late to start.Black White Drawing Vintage Victorian Old
The time to start is now and it is needs to be experienced because no words can truly describe the embodied experience of the IoPT Identity method.

NEXT BLOG: What happens in an IoPT Identity Workshop?