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Systemic Coaching


Bert Hellinger Instituut Nederland

The programme
Inner attitude: The Empty Middle
Practice: To which system someone belongs
Boundaries of the personal conscience
Collective conscience and dynamics:
Carrying the responsibility or load for someone else
Meditation: Revise a promise
Double image/ overlapping context
Meditation and inner process: Difficult child
Systemic coaching interview
Renegotiation of your contract
Explore your position as systemic coach with regard to the system of the client
1e order of help

Short Training Systemic Coaching
Compared to constellations, systemic coaching is a form of conversation with the
same aim as a constellation, but where there is no constellation with representatives
or objects.
Compared to Management Coaching (at least in the tradition in which I have learned
it at the time as a consultant/ coach) some differences can be mentioned:
o We make use of systemic information, information that someone has,
because he or she is part of a system. This information is often unconsciously
stored, so together with the client we should come into a state where this
implicit information can become accessible.
o We use that form of systemic thinking and phenomenological work as has
been developed in the Hellinger tradition. That means that we make use of
personal conscience, collective conscience, and possible conscience that we
call spirit, nd the principles of Bounding, Order and Balance in Give and Take
o As focus in systemic coaching we usually do not take the well being of the
client but the well being of the whole system. This inner attitude has
consequences for our relationship with the client and our relationship towards
the system or systems where the client is or was part of.
Coaching process and systemic coaching.
Experiences until now show that systemic coaching in a normal coaching process
changes the coaching relationship. Often the coaching is then finished. If something
comes to light in a constellation, this works on in the soul of the client. Constellations
are not work instructions in the meaning that it is makes clear what you have to do at
work the next morning. Systemic coaching has the same effect as a constellation. It
is systemic work without doing a constellation or maybe with only a mini constellation
with some elements, where the coach can be representative.
From systemic coaching another image arises for the client. That image keeps
working. Sometimes it means that in the following months many things shift/move. If
someone takes another inner position in a system, many things change. Many
changes take place on the level of identity, of values and views and on the level of
acting. As mentioned before, this can involve feelings of guilt. Being loyal to what was
before is often easier as it involves feelings of innocence. Falling back to ancient
behaviour is therefore logical. For a coach it must be completely acceptable if that is
the case. Whatever the client does with the insight is ok for the systemic coach. He
does not even ask afterwards. The challenge for the coach is not to want to know if
he has been successful. Already only wanting to know has its effect on the soul of the
That is why the coaching relationship changes. What can you talk about together
when something essential has come to light? Actually it is often so intimate that it is
strange to talk in following coaching conversations about other subjects.

It is remarkable that many constellation facilitators realise that they quickly forget
about the constellation, sometimes already after some hours. Hellinger talks about a
form of spiritual forgetting. It is as if the system withdraws to where it belongs, the

The inner attitude of the facilitator

(The scheme is this paragraph has been adapted after Klaus Grochowiak)
There is no doubt that the inner attitude of the facilitator is the most important
instrument nd condition to work with constellations.
At the same time it is difficult to point out what that inner attitude exactly is and how it
can be acquired. To obtain this attitude needs experience and being continuously
willing to explore which inner processes are involved in the constellation and to
develop them.

Connected to your own

background, without
judgement Being aware
of and being able to
separate your own
themes and the clients
In harmony with :
life nd death,
prosecutors nd

Allowing yourself not

Trusting the movement in
the interaction

In contact with the

system-energy, without
being overwhelmed by


Determined in
Aiming at solutions.

Allowing each
person his/her
Without judging.

Hellinger speaks about a philosophical attitude that goes with a phenomenological

This is in contrast with a scientific approach, which looks for explanations,
experiments and theories.

This phenomenological attitude means keeping back/in the background and being
modest. You subordinate yourself to the system/situation as a whole and you look at
it without wanting to explain/to clear up. And you accept from your inner self that
things are exactly as they are.
And at the same time you are also part of the bigger total system.
This is, in my opinion, what Bert Hellinger calls the empty middle.
Besides these aspects of the empty middle we want to mention other aspects that
are essential when observing in a systemic way, coaching and guiding / directing

1. In contact with the system-energy

To be able to guide /direct a constellation, you need to be in contact with the systemenergy of the system the client belongs to. Being in contact means to be able to
perceive the system-energy without being dragged away by it.
System-energy in the facilitator.
To open up to the system-energy is part of the inner preparation.
System-energy in the client.
The preliminary/introductory interview is partly meant to bring the client into contact
with the system-energy of his/her system. This system-energy becomes available
through the client to the facilitator and the representatives.
System-energy in the constellation.
At first it is useful to find out during the constellation on which spot you are most in
contact with the system-energy.
Rule of thumb is to find the appropriate distance from this spot in order to be in
contact nd to be able to see the whole image /gestalt of the constellation and the
systemic field. Where in the constellation is the most system-energy?
System-energy in the audience.
The audience often gives of signals that are the consequences of changes in the
system-energy. Sometimes people in the audience find the urge to stand up and go
elsewhere because there is too much pressure in the system. They can also give off
important signals when the system-energy is fading, for example, by yawning or
becoming disinterested. Then it is better to stop.
Restless excitement in the audience or making jokes may mean that there is a taboo
or a family secret.

2. Determined /firm leadership.

A constellation immediately loses force when the facilitator loses his/her leadership.
This is something else than letting the representatives follow an inner movement or
letting the representatives formulate an appropriate sentence.
Leadership means the special combination of being simultaneously in the lowest rank
nd in the highest rank. The lowest rank: meaning a position of humility, the empty
middle. The highest rank: to be able to guide / lead the constellation.
To give the leadership a focus, a direction, it should be:
Directed towards solution. How can energy and love start flowing again?
With the question of the client in mind. When that question is answered the
constellation is finished. Doing more weakens and endangers the resolution.
One step at a time for the client.
3. Allowing each person his/her destiny.
Suffering is easier than allowing to heal. And that is all right. Without judging.
Accepting the client and his/her system that is almost, by definition, too big to
4. Allowing yourself not knowing.
When you, as the facilitator, have done everything possible to find the beginning of a
direction towards a solution and when you thn have the courage to take the step
towards not-knowing, you will sometimes get an in-sight, a dis-covery that leads to a
Each constellation is different. Even if the dynamic in the constellation is very obvious
it is useful to open up to not-knowing, to surprises. An extreme form of this is to trust
the own movements of the representatives in the constellation. Usually only when
there are two or maximum three representatives. As facilitator you will then withdraw,
without giving up leadership.
5. In harmony with: life nd death, perpetrators nd victims, those present nd
those excluded.
Being able to stand inwardly next to death. Giving the prosecutor a place in your
heart. Bringing an excluded person in the picture. Beyond norms.
Fighting for life may mean, in the systemic sense, not wanting/avoiding to face death.

Healing in the systemic sense means to be in harmony with both, life and
death, perpetrators and victims.
Let it be clear that everyone is responsible for his/her actions and their
6. Own themes.
Does the clients theme approaches/touches yours?
While setting up you should be aware of the difference between the
clients theme and possibly your own themes that are touched/that come
If your own theme starts dominating, the constellation must be stopped.
When you, as the facilitator, are in touch / in contact with the systemenergy then it is possible that emotions, overtaken from the system,
Those are functional and it is useful to (learn to) distinguish them from
those emotions emerging, when your own theme is touched.

Practice To which systems does one belong?

In threes:

A, B en C

A goes into the empty middle and asks questions in order to find out from which
systems B is part of and what position B has in this system
B gives feedback to A saying which questions open more and which questions close
A tries to answer the question: from which (inner) place emerged the systemic
C observes it all and gives feedback about when A and B are together in the field and
when not
Change places

How conscience works in work and organizations

The most important merit of Bert Hellinger is not so much the development of the
method of system constellations but much more the insights into how conscience
works in systems.
Personal conscience and collective conscience and the struggle between the two of
Personal conscience
Personal conscience binds us to our group. Our family, our region of birth, our
religion, our culture, our language and our country. It also binds us to our work, our
colleagues, and the organisation we take part in.
Personal conscience works as a kind of sense organ of equilibrium.
It is in our consciousness and guides by feelings of guilt and innocence. Personal
conscience works directly and gives us information about at least three areas:
Bond: do I still belong to a group or not?
Balance in giving and taking: do I owe someone or does someone owe me?
Order: am I at the right/legitimate place in this system?
Actions that increase our rights to belong to a group are coupled with feelings of
innocence and pleasure. Things that go against norms and values of our own group
and put our right to belong to this group at stake are coupled with feelings of guilt.
Personal conscience makes the own group feel strong and takes care of keeping the
group together and keeping the distinction and boundaries to other groups clear.
How this works can be easily checked by asking yourself what you do to belong to a
department, an organisation, a professional group, or maybe to an ideal or a trend.
And which effects have the things you do on feelings of guilt and innocence.
So it is imaginable that someone with feelings of innocence does the most horrible
things. The people who crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York with a
hijacked plane did this perhaps with a good conscience: it binds them to their group.
Feelings of guilt appear when someone does something that endangers his/her rights
to belong to their group.
Founding a family with a partner means that sooner or later you have to admit that
the other family is as valuable as your own family. And that makes you guilty towards
your own family.
How it works is easy to imagine: a ten-year old child smoked cigarettes with a friend
in her parents house, where nobody smokes and smoking is a taboo.
Some days later she wants to talk about it and says to her mother: Mum, I have
smoked. Imagine how she feels.
Or she tells her friends when they hang around somewhere: We have smoked.
Imagine how she feels.
In organisations the question is often about to which group people belong: belonging
to the club of all Heads of Technical Departments in a certain area was sometimes
more important for the Heads than to belong to their own organisation.


And to which system belong medical specialists in a University hospital? To the

hospital they work in, to their department, to their university and their doctors in
training, to their colleagues? When do you render yourself guilty when you do
something for another department?
How does it come that bond and loyalty are often stronger at the bottom in the
organisation than at the top? And what, in this context, means loyal to a brand?
Balance in giving and taking
Personal conscience also guides when there is an exchange among people.
When someone has received something this person will feel the necessity to give the
other person something back in order to equal the balance of conscience.
When the other person gives back a bit more to the first one, the first person will tend
to give something again to the first. And then a fruitful exchange may steadily grow.
It can work this way between partners in a relationship, but also in a work situation.
Someone gives his/her talents, his/her efforts to an organisation. That gives security,
continuity, recognition, and a frame to do the work and a salary in return.
That can bring the employee to do just a bit more and to give the best of him/herself.
And so you can also imagine how such an exchange can dry up. Which makes the
bond loosen.
A strong unbalance in giving and taking makes that someone cannot stay.
A secretary gave constantly more than her boss asked for. She also cleaned up,
gave presents and did extra tasks. The boss felt more and more oppressed and
although they spoke about it several times the only solution was to give her another
The balance of giving and taking also works when someone has been done an
injustice. Then a right or a need appears to do injustice to the other one too, or to
demand at least something to reinstall the balance so they can again look each other
in the eye.
But when the one person, in reply to the injustice done to him/her, does more
injustice or hurts the other one more, than that person feels in the position to do
again more harm to the first person.
That is a good model for escalation.
When the first person, in answer to the injustice done to him/her demands less from
the other one, but does this clearly and firm decided, the balance can be restored
and they can look at each other again.
It is remarkable how precise peoples sense of equilibrium is in this balance of taking
and giving. Some people take care of constantly giving more than taking, so that
clients are constantly in debt to them. But the effect can be that the clients feel not
really free and have difficulties in behaving like adults.
There is an exception. In families the balance between giving and taking from
parents to children is uneven. Parents give more and children take more. Children
cannot and should not bring this equilibrium into balance.
They can compensate this unbalance by passing on what they have received to their
children or to a social project, without asking something in return.
For some schools or training or teachers the same rule holds. Students can not
compensate for what they receive. That is why they feel they should do something
good with what they learned to others. Teachers or institutions you are grateful to,


can be respected by passing on new insights by, for example, publishing those
A capable energetic female manager in Amsterdam was head of a group of
employees and wondered why they did not achieve as much as could be expected,
considering their training and experience.
What appeared was that several employees had a Jewish background and they
received a grant from a fund for relatives of holocaust victims. Then the manager
realised that the fact they received this grant contributed to their state of feeling a
victim and so they were limited in their possibilities. She went back to work with new
How big should a golden handshake be so that the person involved and the
organisation feel acknowledged and free again? What is a suitable payment for a
consultant so that the organisation and the consultant feel free again at the end? The
inner price barometer can give you an idea. Imagine you get twice as much money
for a service or product you have just given. Does it make the transaction and the
whole stronger or weaker? Does it make you and the other system feel freer or more
bound? And what happens if you get one and a half times the amount? Or two third?
Personal conscience is also at work in a third area of feelings of guilt and innocence.
What is the right place for me in the system, a place I can trust, which gives me
safety and quietness so that I can do my work well.
If someone works from the right place it is coupled with feelings of innocence.
In organisations the right place is much more difficult to determine than in families. In
families it follows the flow of life: grandparents come before parents who come before
children who come before grandchildren. And in the family the first child comes
before the second etc.
In organisation the right place is connected to several, sometimes-contradictory
principles. Seniority is important, the fact of how long a person is part of an
organisation. The place in the hierarchy is important: if someone considers
him/herself better than the boss, this is often coupled with feelings of guilt.
The professional group is important, as well as specialism. In a group practice the
physiotherapists have another place than the doctors.
The order of training someone followed can also be important or the different jobs a
person has had can influence personal conscience.
When an engineer decides to become a social worker he will get a totally different
strength if he still respects his ancient training and job than if he rejects that part of
his life and considers it as a lost part of his life and the wrong choice.

Collective conscience
Collective conscience works unconsciously, in service to the system as a
The function of collective conscience is to guarantee the progress of the
system as a whole. And then the system as a whole comes before the


individual. The fact that collective conscience works unconsciously and

people can be taken into service of the system as a whole, without
knowing or wanting it, makes it difficult to perceive.
Constellations are a good aid to bring to light those mechanisms. Often
surprising and for the people involved different than they had thought.
In collective conscience the principles of bond, balance in giving and
taking and order are also at work. But in another way than with personal
Everybody has the same right to a place.
A system does not allow that members get lost or are excluded, without
compensation later in the system.
When a founder is later dismissed from his organisation in an unpleasant
way, this can stay perceptible for years, also by people who entered the
organisation much later and who never knew the person in question.
Being excluded also happens when people get unreal/figurative functions
or when people think and speak arrogantly and moralistically about them.
If four functions are created after a merging of four town communities in
order to give the four town clerks their job, while actually only three jobs
are needed, the fourth clerk is excluded, although he is still working for
the organisation. And this is perceptible for everybody.
When someone is excluded it will be compensated later by someone
else who wants to follow the excluded person, or who identifies
him/herself with this person.
This person will then behave in the same way as the excluded person,
for example by striving after the same aims or he/she will atone in
another way by for example, not being successful. Original aims of an
organisation can also be excluded after a certain time.
This often comes back as a difficult and unexplainable conflict among the
Balance in giving and taking
Collective conscience also works with the balance of giving and taking in
a system as a whole. Collective conscience does not allow that
somebody in a system has a big advantage at the cost of someone else,
without compensation in another way later.
If a family company has become rich at the cost of health or sometimes even
death of employees or clients, without anyone taking the responsibility for it or
taking into account the consequences, then later someone will often
unconsciously feel guilty about it and will tend to atone for it.
Collective conscience seems to grab anyone or any element for that
purpose later.


This function of collective conscience in organisations can be seen when

someone seems to bear a burden out of scale that has nothing to do with
what this person has done in the organisation.
Sometimes you get the impression that someone tries to make up for
something and it is not clear what it is and who for. And it never seems
enough. You can sometimes see it at the body posture of people, head
down and as if loaded with a burden that is felt as unpleasant for
colleagues and unexplainable at the same time.
For collective conscience earlier members or elements of a system have
priority over who or what arrived later. In a certain way collective
conscience is cruel because it punishes people who arrived later for
injustice that had be done before they arrived.
What arrived earlier is more important than what arrived later.
That also means that those who arrived later should not interfere in
matters of those who were there before them, nor should they feel better
than those who came earlier. In organisations collective conscience does
not only work towards those who came earlier or later but also at the
same time in the hierarchy. People higher in hierarchy are considered for
collective conscience as if they came earlier.
The struggle between personal and collective conscience
What is tragic about the function of personal and collective conscience is that they
can work against each other. Someone can do something with good personal
conscience while someone else will have to do penance for this by the function of
collective conscience.
When we look at organisations while keeping this in mind, a new image appears.
When we see the coherence of all and try to imagine what has happened in an
organisation, what made things work as they work now. And if we try to imagine what
struggle is going on between personal and collective conscience, than many
presuppositions and judgements may disappear.
If a director fires immediately the employee who mistreated patients, the director acts
from personal conscience. The perpetrator rendered him/herself guilty of
mistreatment and has broken the rules of the organisation and has lost the right to
belong to the organisation. But by excluding the perpetrator an infringement of
collective conscience arises. Years later this theme reappeared constantly as a
hidden tumour, causing restlessness in the organisation, without clear reasons for the
people concerned.


Personal conscience and practice the clinic eye
In threes: A (client), B (coach), C observes the whole, including A and B
and keeps an eye on the time
A explores the boundaries of his or her personal conscience and how
others reacted to that or would react if he/she reaches those boundaries
or would cross them
B asks questions and observes: the movements (in the soul) of client A.
A can clarify where (in the body) he/she feels something
For B (and C) it is a practice of the clinic eye: what can be seen in A
when he is telling his story; how can you see that he is bounded with the
whole or maybe where he is struggling with loyalties.
After a while B wonders: as a coach, where are the boundaries of my
personal conscience?
Some suggestions for questions:
In the present time
Which behaviour in your work, organisation, professional group, family,
would bring you to or over the boundaries of:
-balance in give and take
In your career in the past, where were you guilty in the field of:
-balance in give and take
and what was the effect?
If you think about a next step in your career or for example introducing a
change in your company
-to who or what would you render yourself guilty?
-what would you leave behind?


Dynamics and their resolutions

In families as well as in organisations the main principles at work are Bonding,
Order and a Balance in giving and taking.
With dynamics we mean:

What possibilities and restriction arise when the three basic principles are or are
nor respected in an organisation system.
A dynamic is a pattern of relations or positions among elements of a system. So
what is important is what happens in between the elements, not in the elements.
The purpose of a dynamic is to bring something to light about the system that is
related to the existence of the system as a whole. It has a signal function and
carries the care for the survival of the whole system, even if a dynamic can be
painful for individuals or some elements in the system.
The truth is a term we use for that what wants to come to light. A fact, an event in
the history of the organisation when
> something or somebody was lost or excluded
> a debt came into being
> an order was disturbed or inverted

That truth is the source of the dynamic, bound with the original event and
therefore with primary feelings. That is why it is impossible to find solutions
from here. The elements caught in the dynamic are bound to secondary
feelings of overtaken feelings and with them there are no solutions possible.

Dynamics are the heart of the constellation. To recognise the essential dynamics and
those with the strongest weight or power is essential to work towards a solution. In
the training we pay a lot of attention to learning how to recognise dynamics. You can
practise by assimilating the following dynamics, possibly with examples, and by
feeling what the inner movement is, which goes with the dynamic.
Then you can try to feel what the effect of an intervention or resolving sentence is.
And how maybe something gets into movement that can grow.
The dynamics are placed in a number of main groups. This list is not exhaustive. It is
a stocktaking of observations until now. There probably will be more later.


Practice Recognizing Dynamics

With each dynamic you can do this exercise. The following one is for
In twos: client and coach
Explore and collect questions in order to find out if a dynamic of
triangulation is present
Play with possible interventions: how would it be if ?
Possibly do (parts of) an imaginary constellation.


Dynamic: Triangulation.
Triangulation is a disturbance of the order. Someone has arrived at the
place on the above hierarchic layer, often in a conflict situation among
the people concerned. In daily life the client perceives it as a role as a
mediator. And it is also tempting, because it gives status and therefore
this place quickly becomes presumptuous /arrogant and is considered
with suspicion by the others in the organisation. Not seldom during
training the following remark slipped out of my mouth: I think you are at
the wrong place. You should have been the director And often it was
purifying. Actually the employees have nothing to do with what is at work
among the managers on the nearest higher level. Conflicts should stay
there. Involving an employee is an invitation to entanglement.
De-entanglement is possible when the employee says: I am only the coworker. The manager says: You are the employee, I am your boss, and
next to me are my colleagues. What is going on among us we can
handle ourselves. Keep out of it
Suggestions for questions to find out if there is triangulation:
Does it happen that you are sucked into situations, on a next
higher level, where actually you have nothing to do?
Are you sometimes drawn into conflicts as a mediator?
Are you sometimes tempted/seduced?
Are you colleagues sometimes jealous because you mix easily with
people from a higher level?
In your family (for women) were you more a fathers daughter
(triangulated) or a mothers daughter?
In your family (for men) were you more a fathers son or a mothers
son (triangulated)?


Dynamic : Parentification.
I feel better than my boss; I have come in a position above my boss. The
movement is that someone feels above someone who has a higher
position in the order (according to the dynamic of the system).
And then the order is disturbed. This can be seen in the constellation in
several ways. In posture, the head a little bit backwards and sometimes
a disdainful glance. The person lower in rank stays or tends to stay left of
a higher person in rank. The person higher in rank is not looked at.
Arrogant tone and statements by the representative. Asking to say the
employee: I am only the employee can test this dynamic.. To restore
the order it is sometimes necessary for the employee to bow lightly for
the person higher in rank. Parentification in organisations leads to
restlessness and loss of energy. The attention is more focused on the
persons own position than on his/her work. Someone who enters an
organisation and listens and observes, can quickly see if this dynamic is
at work. A specialist can feel superior to his/her boss, which is true
concerning competence. But at the same time he/she can feel superior
to the boss in everything so also as if he/she is the manager.
By looking for the solution it is good to restore the order and the boss
says to the employee: You are good at your job and that is why I
appreciate you. If this is said sincerely the employee can say: And you
are my boss and you can count on me as your employee. Triangulation
as well as parentification lead to fading the clarity in the order. By
working towards a solution it is important to come to clear statements
about who is who.
You arrived after me, I am the boss and you the employee. That can
start an inner movement that leads to a clear limit. That gives each one
in the organisation the opportunity to be autonomous and bound at the
same time.
Suggestions for questions to find out if there is parentification:
Do you sometimes feel bigger/better than your boss?
Do you often have an opinion/ judgement, that makes you feel
better than those or what you have an opinion about?
As a child, had you maybe arrived at the position of your parents
As a child, did you look after younger children?
In what kind of situations do you feel your chin going up a bit?


Dynamic: I carry something for you/ carrying a debt/ carrying

responsibility that is not yours.
I carry an outstanding debt of the company. A product (powder milk)
feels weak because at the time the product caused illness by the children
because of a production failure. The product carries this for someone
else who could not face it at the time. In the constellation you see that
the representative is excessively overloaded and weak. Actually this
dynamic is: I try to do something that someone else can not do. It is an
example of trying to do someone elses homework. Not only is this an
impossible mission but it is also an endless task as you will never know
when you have finished. As it is not your task you do not have any
reference to know when you have done enough. A good recipe for a
This dynamic can be tested by giving the representative something
heavy to carry, for example a briefcase or a pile of books; immediately it
will show if this weight is really carried by the representative;
The direction of the solution lies in: Carrying your own burden makes
you strong.
The representative gives the weight back to the one he carried it for and
says: Dear .., I have carried this for you and now I am giving it back to
The addressed representative feels if he/she can take the weight, takes it
and observes if it is really his/hers.
It is often necessary to give back a part. It is also possible that the weight
has to be given back further, until it is clear where it belongs.
This is not only noticeable by the verbal reaction of the representative,
but also by facial expression and posture: someone who carries his/her
own weight, even a heavy one, becomes a bit taller and radiates
Suggestions for questions to find out if there is carrying:
Are you quickly tired or do you have burnout symptoms?
Do you easily take the job when nobody else wants to do it? Do
you easily say: Ill do it?
Do you sometimes feel like a barrel that cant be filled?
Have you developed toughness or a big body that can bear a lot?
Do you fulfil your own task in your life or do you feel as fulfilling
someone elses tasks?


Do you easily find yourself at loaded places in the organisation, on

places where other people do not take the risk or where people
before you had a break down?
Have you sometimes the feeling you have to atone?/pay a price?
Are you a workaholic?
Do you know the pattern that, just before success, you do
something to destroy it?
Meditation: Revision/change of a promise
Imagine how you are standing in life now and fulfilling tasks in your work,
in your profession, at home and in society. Maybe without realising it, it
could be possible that your are fulfilling some of those tasks for
something or somebody else.
Maybe once in your life, as a child, or later you have experienced things
or seen traumatic events where possibly, in a flash, you thought: no
child, no person should ever experience this again Maybe also in your
family background or history of your country or region things have
happened that are somewhere registered with a sentence or a promise:
this will not happen again Maybe those promises were made on a
deathbed. Most of the time you are not aware of those promises.
But imagine you are standing opposite this person, or those (maybe
even not knowing who they are) to who you made those inner promises.
Put them in your inner image on the foreground. Maybe they are clear,
maybe vague, maybe it is an event
And while looking at them and letting them look at you, you can say to
them in yourself the following: Maybe I have made promises inwardly in
your name. Promises that have influenced my life. Maybe they have
strengthen me and given me a lot. Maybe they have determined my life
in a way that I could not completely fulfil my own tasks in life. In a certain
way I have done it with love
Look at me in a friendly way, when maybe I allow myself in the future to
revise those promises, so that I can honour you in the future in another
way than I have done until now.


Dynamic: Double image. I look at someone in the organisation and see

someone who belongs to another system, family, organisation, training.
With a double image the person from one (part of the) system is
confused with someone from another part or other system. When a
representative in an organisation system looks at the boss with the look
of a child instead of the the look of an adult, it is an indication for a
double image.
This can be tested and resolved in an elegant way. Behind the
representative of the boss another representative of the same gender is
placed. After a few seconds the first representative is placed one or two
meters aside, in this case preferably to the left (because of the order).
Then the other representative comes into the picture of the
representative of the client. Then he/she will be asked: who is this?.
In systemic coaching this process can be done in your imagination.
If this is someone from the clients family system, the solution is to let
say the family member: I am your father. There is your boss. We are
completely different people. We have nothing to do with each other. I am
your father and you are my daughter. And as a daughter you have a
place in my heart. The boss then says something similar. Sometimes it
is necessary to work on a bit, in this case, on the side of the father.
This dynamic is also called: context overlap. You can imagine it as two
overlapping films.
Suggestions for questions to find out if there is a double image:
Do you know situations where you suddenly reacted excessively?
Do you sometimes start stuttering to someone where you usually
would not do that?
Do you sometimes have perspiring hands, heart palpitations or
other strong body reactions in a situation where you normally not
would have them?
Do people sometimes see in you an objective of a project or
something, in stead of you as you are?


Dynamic: Identifications
Following somebody, leading someone elses life.
Someone tends unconsciously to follow a person, who has not been
honoured or who left the system prematurely. For example: an
employee tends to follow a founder who was expelled from the
company after a conflict, years before.
Or a member of the management team of an organisation after a
fusion/merger tends to follow dismissed employees.
In the constellation this dynamic becomes visible by someone staring
into the distance, to the back of a representative who is set up looking
outside the circle, or who feels an inner movement to leave the circle
facing outwards. Sometimes a representative stares to the ground.
This dynamic is tested by putting the representative behind someone
else who died earlier or who left the system earlier in another way. If
this feels better for the representative the dynamic is clear.
A direction of a solution is to let the person who was followed turn
round and to let him/her look at the other person until he/she can
really see him.
It may help to let the follower say: I follow you. Then the pressure in
the system is enhanced and works as a waking-up signal for the one
who is followed. He can say then: Please, stay . I appreciate that
you see me, but you do not help me, nor the company, by following
The follower can say: I will stay a bit longer. This inner movement
sometimes needs time. This process can be done in imagination in a
systemic coaching situation.
This dynamic is sometimes more difficult to see through questions.
But we give some suggestions so that you have an idea in which
direction to search and we complete that inner image with a
meditation difficult child.
Suggestions for questions to find identification
Does it happen that you are not completely here?
Do you know reckless behaviour or do you practise extreme
Are you restless and could you be called a wandering soul?
Do you sometimes feel as if you live someone elses life?


Do you sometimes behave in such a way, that you do not

belong somewhere anymore?
Do you sometimes behave in an inexplicable way?
Do you hear voices?

Meditation: difficult child

Go inwardly back to your childhood. Go to those moments where you
were difficult or others found you were difficult, or ill..
And feel , maybe even without a real person emerging, with who, in your
difficult behaviour or illness, you were unconsciously, bounded. Who
were you, in your difficult behaviour, trying to remember? For who or
what was your love flowing? And if someone emerges, clear or vague,
look at him or her and let him or her look at you. And realise how maybe,
unconsciously, you were bound with him or her. And how maybe you or a
part of you were living his or her life or did things in order that he or she
could belong again.
And maybe the eyes of the other shine with something like : Dear child, I
see your love. Maybe there is some more exchange between the two
of you, in words, a gesture, in silence. Realise also that, even if you turn
round, in the direction of the rest of your life, you will always be
connected, even if it is maybe in another way than before. Sometimes
such a person becomes a source or guardian angel.
And after a while, pay some attention to others in your family or
surrounding, children or adults. Others who are difficult or ill. And open
up to those in their background with who they are unconsciously
connected and to who they point in their difficult behaviour.
And also open up for difficult groups in society. To who do they point?......


Systemic coaching
Bibi Schreuder
With systemic questioning a similar process is started in the client as in a
As a coach, go therefore to the Empty Middle, connected with your own background,
open for what is and what comes.
Tune in to the client and his question, beyond judgement.
Listen to the question, sentence by sentence and open up for all mentioned and still
other possible systems.
Scan the systems and superpose the three principles in thought.
What about belonging? Maybe questions arise in you such as: who or what is not
named or seen? Maybe someone has been excluded? Someone is missing? Or you
ask: Has a goal or ideal been lost? Or Who do you honour with this?
What about order? Maybe questions arise such as: Could it be possible that you feel
bigger or better than your director? If you imagine your school class, than where is
your position ?
What about the balance in give and take? Maybe questions appear such as: Are
you very good in giving? Can you also take? For who are you working so hard? What
does your illness do for the system actually?
You can drop politeness, curiosity, asking about feelings. Listen in silence and only
if a question presses on, you ask the question.
Unfortunately the coach has not much to do and is more silent than speaking. By
questioning you can let the client explore what resonates, where maybe there is a
context overlap (something old from the own family system melted with something in
the present work situation). Then you can explore if you want to differentiate the two
You make suggestions, starting with: What if? (What if you turn round and you know
that the director is behind you? What if you see the parents behind the children? And
what if your parents stand behind you?
Always with considerable time and silence between the questions, so that the client
can let appear the images.
You observe where and which changes you experience in the client and you follow
the process. You stop if a first movement perseveres, in agreement with the client.
For example with: I see that you expire deeply and that you nod; does that mean that
it is sufficient now?
Round off with the client in a way that your both are free again and so that the
process in the client can continue. So resist, and endure, as a coach, your curiosity,
your amazement (about how simple it is or how quick) and your worries if it all will
work out well. Keep your leadership and say: Ok that was it!


Systemic coaching interview, conditions for excellence
In threes:

The client goes into an inner state of remembering where he or she excelled in his or
her work
The coach asks questions :
- which systems were present there in that successful situation?
- how was your position (and possibly those of others) in each of those systems
considering : - balance in giving and taking
- order
- what was, who were all involved, included?
- what about personal conscience?
- what gave force, energy in the situation?
-what more could be completed?
Meta-coach: his or her role is to take care that the coach keeps working on the
systemic level.
What teaches this about the dynamic in successful work situations?


Systemic Coaching Interview, Looking at it as a whole

In pairs: one person is the coach, the other person has a coaching
Aim of the exercise is to find out in a coaching discussion if there is
possibly a systemic question, starting from the question of the person
being coached.
1. The person being coached states his/her question.
2. The coach asks systemic questions.
You can use the questions and interventions that are described at the
different dynamics.
The person being coached and the coach look together at what this
discussion has brought up, which questions had more effect and which
had not.
Feedback to the coach.

Change places.


Inwardly process: explore your position as a coach with regard to

the system of the client.
Open yourself to the client and open yourself to his or her system: the
employer, colleagues, employees, maybe his or her professional group
or clients Open yourself also for his or her family, cultural background,
countries of origin, events in the past.
Maybe see them in front of you, even if you do not know them all.
And then wonder where your own place is.
How far away are you from the client? And if you increase the distance a
bit, does it make him or her bigger, smaller, stronger, weaker, more or
less dignified? Does there come more flow or less, more or less potential
in the group?
And what about the employer, where does he stand? Can you include
him or her in your heart? Change the distance and your position in the
triangle you form with the principal (the one who gave the assignment)
and the client. What is the effect? When are you needed more and when
less? When does the relationship between the principal and the client
become stronger, more fruitful, when more difficult, drier?
And continue this exercise when you include colleagues, the
organisation, clients, society, family
And if you change your position, what changes that in your relationship?
When are you more partner, more helper, more problem solver, more
coach, more mother or father of the client? Can you bear that the client
suffers? Can you bear that the organisation of the client suffers? Can you
bear that society suffers?
And observe then your natural tendencies: what position do you naturally
prefer to take in regards to the client.
And if you would do systemic coaching would another position be more
suitable or helpful?
Are you more in service of the client or more in service of the
organisation of the client or maybe more in service of society or forces
beyond that?


1st order of helping
The first order of helping is:
Resist the temptation as a coach to take the position of a parent.
Because when a coach becomes a parent, the client becomes a child
This I call a therapeutic relationship that can last forever
The coach feeds on the client and
Sometimes the coach secretly does not want the client to find a solution..
Bert Hellinger
In sixths: client, coach and four representatives
The coach goes into the parent position intentionally.
Then the client and the coach sit on chairs opposite each other; both can say one
How is the relationship?
Then the client invites two people to stand behind her/his chair as her/his parents.
What changes in he relationship coach client?
Then the coach invites two people to stand behind him/ her as his/her parents
What changes in the relationship coach-client?
The coach collects which insights this exercise gives him/ her about him/herself.

Bibi Schreuder and Jan Jacob Stam