What (or who) is a representative, and what is its role during a family constellation?

By Susanne Hazen and Josianne Zwart (Hey Joos! Virtual assistant & projectmanager)

I explained in my previous blog how a family constellation works: a participant (also known as a client) brings in an issue about which he or she wants to gain clarity. Based on that question, a facilitator gets to work during a family constellation. The representative is an important part of this process, and I will tell you more about that in this blog.
The role of a representative during a family constellation is crucial. They are substitutes for real family members of the client. These representatives have several important advantages over actual family members.
One of the main advantages of representatives is that they are not biased; they have no personal relationship with the client and his family.

Interested in Family constellations or Systemic Ritual?
During the online workshops, you can get to know Systemic Ritual at an entry-level. We will mainly do some constellations or rituals so you can experience how it works and what it can do for you.
Do you want more and live? Click here for the workshop series ‘Hidden Dynamics’.
It is also possible to have an individual session. See: individual-consultation-systemic-constellations-and-systemic-ritual/
Are you a professional and do you want to learn new tools? In that case, the course in Systemic Ritual is useful for you. See: Course in Systemic Ritual.

That is why they can look at the situation objectively – without the intervention of one’s ratio – and really feel their place in the line-up. This is important because many clients are often trapped in their perspective on the situation and their family members’ role in it. The client has been attached to this structure for a long time and consciously and unconsciously tries to defend it. By using representatives, who often show a different picture of the situation, the client can let his own perspective on the situation go and gain new insights simultaneously.

Representatives are also more flexible than the client’s actual family members. They are not trapped in the entrenched structures of the family and can, therefore, more easily sense and go along with changes within the energies of the knowing field. This allows the client to understand the dynamics within his family better. Any blockages can be identified and resolved with the help of the facilitator.

Photo: Louis Hansel, unsplash

The representatives perceive the energies and thus have a serving function. It is up to them to communicate to the facilitator what their observations are. They can experience intense feelings but do not have to act them out. They just share them.

Representatives also have a steering function. They serve as a compass for the facilitator, indicating whether an intervention is appropriate or not, based on their immediate perception.

Who can be a representative?

Anyone can be a representative; no special knowledge or gifts are required. The place within the ‘knowing field’ in which the representative is placed has its own power. While each representative has their own way of expressing things, experience can play a role in accurately entering the knowing field. With more experience, a representative can become faster and more precise in their expression.

Representatives experience feelings that indicate what relationships are like. For example, a representative can just feel good, or feel wobbly, sad, or angry.

Many people like to represent because they do something for their fellow man. For example, it can already be a relief for the client to see how his representative expresses the same feelings as those that the client himself must deal with in daily life. Seeing this will not change one’s feelings, but this insight alone is liberating.

It is also possible that representatives have experiences that they do not know from their own lives, such as those of a proud great-grandmother, a war criminal, an alcoholic, etc. This can lead to other insights that would otherwise have remained hidden.

In general, the fear that the representative will bring his own experiences into the constellation is unfounded. In exceptional cases, a person can be overcome by their own emotions. Other representatives will also notice this, and the facilitator should pay attention to this.

Is it dangerous to be a representative during a family constellation?

No, in general, a participant can handle this role. It happens that a representative still suffers from the tension he/she has acquired in his/her role for some time after the position has been set up. Therefore, the facilitator must ensure that the representative consciously steps out of the role. There are different techniques for that.

I also want to participate in a family constellation
Do you find this interesting, and would you like to experience a family constellation yourself as a representative, or do you have a question you would like to explore? Then sign up for the Hidden Dynamics workshop. In these workshops, we will explore (family) themes using Systemic Ritual and Family Constellations.

Tip: Another self – Netflix series
To find out more about this in a visual and compelling way, I recommend the Netflix series Another Self: This Turkish series follows three women and their partners. The reason for the journey they make is the diagnosis of a serious illness with one of them. During the journey, they are introduced to family constellations. They are confronted with unresolved trauma from their family history, including murder, secrets, migrations and forbidden loves. Through systemic constellation work, it becomes clear how their family histories have influenced their lives. The series shows (with the right dose of drama and romance) how constellations can support you in finding yourself. Watch the series here.

Published by Susanne Hazen

Drs. Susanne Hazen is in 1988 afgestudeerd aan de Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht in Psychologie . Na deze opleiding is ze gaan werken in het welzijnswerk. In 2001 is ze eveneens afgestudeerd aan de toenmalige Academie voor Natuurgeneeskunde Hilversum. In 2002 is ze gestart met haar eigen praktijk. Ze doceert sinds 2002 Psychologie / Therapeutische Vorming aan de diverse opleidingen in CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine). In de jaren 2004 en 2005 volgde ze de opleiding Familieopstellingen bij Harrie de Kruijff en ontving in juni 2005 het diploma. Sinds 2003 verdiept ze zich in het Sjamanistisch werk en heeft diverse trainingen gevolgd bij Daan van Kampenhout in Nederland en Zwitserland. In 2011 heeft ze de tweejarige training “Systemic Ritual®” afgerond. Wenst u meer informatie – zie haar profiel op LinkedIn.

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