Phenomenology

The below is an extract from: Unraveling Family Secrets. Bert Hellinger interviewed on Family Constellations, By Humberto del Pozo in Santiago de Chile, September 1999.

What kind of solutions can be found for a client? What constitutes the phenomenological approach here?

The phenomenological field of vision ranges from a narrow point of view to a spacious awareness, it extends from what is close at hand to distant vistas. This means, instead of looking only at the client, the therapist also looks at the entire family; and instead of looking only at the client and his family, he looks beyond them, to a larger field of phenomena and to the larger soul containing all of it. An individual and his family are bound together by a larger field and affected by the forces of a greater common soul, which appears to guide and direct them. Furthermore, it seems clear that a problem may only be understood fully, and solutions may only emerge, in the context of a larger view.

If I hope to assist the client’s soul, I must look at his soul as being guided by the family soul. But if I only look at the client and his family, I may recognize what may have lead to entanglements, but the solution may not present itself, until a connection has been made to those forces and dimensions of soul which lie beyond the individual and his family. These dimensions are beyond our influence. We can merely remain open and receptive to them.

When we focus on the essential during a constellation, this greater soul may provide insights into a potentially healing image, a healing sentence, and a possible next step. The therapist merely makes himself open to be touched by this larger soul, by refraining from any direction on his part, and remaining deeply humble towards all that he fears, even fear itself. Then suddenly, a picture, a word, or a sentence may emerge, guiding him to the next step. But it will always be a step into the dark and the unknown. Only in the end will it be clear whether this was the right step, or if it actually helped. By taking a phenomenological stance we come into contact with these dimensions of soul, and this is more easily accomplished by non-doing than by doing.

The therapist’s own focused presence assists the client in adopting a phenomenological attitude himself, and to receiving the insights and strength it offers. Often the client cannot bear what is being revealed and closes down against it. The therapist consents even to that. The therapist does not allow himself to become entangled in the destiny of the client and his family. This may seem cold-hearted. But our experience has shown, that insight gained in any other way, remains incomplete and tentative, for the client as well as for the therapist.


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