Interview on Systemic Work with Franz Ruppert

ISCA interview with Franz Ruppert

In preparation of this year's gathering of the International Systemic Constellations Association, I'm doing short interviews with systemic coaches, trainers, presenters, and frontrunners in the constellations field.


No time to watch the full video? No worries, we've typed it out. Enjoy!

So I'm here with Franz Ruppert, working in the systemic field for 24 years. So, welcome Franz!

Welcome Oscar here in Munich.

Yes, thank you! It's nice to visit your place.

It's a pleasure that you come.

Yes! So, the first question I would like to ask around constellations work, because if there's one definite thing that a lot of constellators have difficulty with, it's in actually explaining the work and what it means to be a constellations worker or systemic work. So, if there would be one definition or one way you would say, this is how I explain it, how would that be, Franz?

For me it's a technique. It's a technique that you make use of. That means that you use our human capacity to resonate with other human beings and pick up their inner world, in a way. We have to have this capacity because already as children we needed to take in from outside – our mother or father. We develop our human psyche by resonating with the psyche of others. This is an inborn, native capacity with every human being that we can make use of in many people in many ways. One of the ways to make use of it is to do it in a therapeutic field or in the counseling field. So, this is an applied technique in a way. To use this technique is in my view the third level of all practical work. The first level of all practical work is theory. Before you start to apply a technique, you need to know why and what it's about. What are the problems? What are the conflicts? So the first level for me is the theory level. The second level is that you have an idea how to bring theory in practice. And then you have a second level that I call the method, that I call the level of the method. You need a method to transfer theoretical, theory knowledge into practice. And the next level is how to make it technically. That you apply your method technically in a practical situation.

And so, with regards to the systemic work, it has been around for a few decades now, how do you feel connected to the wider community of systemic coaches, trainers, workers in different fields? There's quite a diversity. How do you feel connected to that?

So, the first thing is: What is systemic? What is a system? A system is a concept, a theoretical concept. It belongs to the first level. Of course I started in 1994 with family constellations and after that systemic work we called it and meanwhile my focus no longer is on systems but is on the individual. It's on the identity of the person. So my focus in the meanwhile is on identity, not on the system. And so I name my whole approach identity-oriented psycho-trauma theory on the first level. And therapy when it comes to applying this theory. Why? Why did I do this change? Why did I shift from system to identity? Because I saw that many of us have lost their "I", have lost their own "I", have lost the world. Because they have been raised in systems that deny the I. That do not want you to be a real individual. But to be part of the system. And of course, on the other side, all children would like to be part of the system. You want to be wanted by the parents, and so. But, very often, that's not the case. Many often this is the case, what we see in psychotherapy, that mothers do not want this child or another child or even alter the father. They are together as a couple. There are many conflicts. And sometimes they think if there's another child, the situation would improve, but it doesn't. So the whole system is not based then on real mutual acceptance, mutual wanting, that the other person feels good in his or her life, but they all are in survival mode. They are all struggling for survival, to survive their trauma. And then I learned that this is of not much use to support the idea of somebody to be member of a system, but more to support the idea of how to get out of the system. How to get out of a traumatised system. And this is what I see is one of the main problems, many of the clients I see have, that they try to belong to a system and the system from the very beginning rejected them. They didn't want them. And so they land in what I call in the trauma of love. Where they are in, with their development, is giving up their own "I", giving up their own will, and making the relationship or the system more important than themselves. To inverse this and to correct this surviving strategy, this is the main focus of my work. And this is the reason why I do not use and name my approach systemic any longer or family-oriented, but identity-oriented.

So I used to be saying it's trauma constellations you're doing. But maybe you have another word for that right now?

Yes. The most important magical when I came in contact with family constellations, after a while, I saw "Oh, what is behind all these attempts to belong to the system and to understand what's going on in the system?" It's trauma. All this what makes it difficult, what makes it impossible to have good relationships with children, to have good relations with the parents, or in a couple relationship, what it makes so difficult is the experiences of trauma that we as human beings might make. Because trauma cuts you off from yourself, cuts you off from the contact of your body, cuts you off from your feelings, produces a lot of illusions about reality, you're not really in contact with reality how it is. And then I thought: "Okay, we have to focus on trauma in order to make things good again." But then the focus is not on you, if I thought I would do a trauma constellation. Of course, we have to look at trauma, but it's needed to look at trauma because of you. Because of your development. That you can have a good life. So the focus is now on the identity – your identity, my identity– and of course in order to understand who you are, what I want, we have to look at our trauma-biography. You have to start with the very beginning of our life and see how much trauma has influenced our development.

Clearly, you have gone one of the paths that are there, if there would be an invitation towards other constellators or other people in the field, what would that be? The field has developed in certain directions, this is certainly one of them, what would be your invitation for other facilitators to maybe explore more, that they're maybe not exploring too much at the moment?

At the moment, every book of mine is an invitation. Through my books I'm inviting everyone. So also the colleagues who are in the different fields of psychotherapy are invited to have a closer look to see my ideas, to see how I practically work. At this one level I give lectures. I have a lot of DVDs available in the meanwhile about my work. We're offering conferences, I have the fourth conference this year in October.

So, if we look at what's the content of that invitation? What's the message you're having?

The message is: Proof my ideas if they are valuable. And if you can benefit from these ideas, it may give you some insights about problems you cannot solve so far. So everyone is invited. I have a lot of open seminars, where everyone can come and does come. It's not only theoretically what we're doing. A lot of people that are engaged in the family-oriented or systemically-oriented constellation work, will then come to me. They tell me their experiences with their world. Yes, there's a big exchange. Many people coming having a similar development like mine. Because they started with great hope in this systemic approach and after a while seeing "Okay, there are some things you can't fix or you're not getting further in your own development." And then you maybe also understand that it is also a limited approach. The systemic approach is limited. It has quite some contradictions in itself. So there's a very lively exchange.

I can imagine! And then, with regards to the work and how it's evolving, what's the one thing you're really excited about? Where you see: In the international field of work, like systemic work and all different courses on that, is there something you're particularly excited about?

I'm totally and completely excited about this resonance process. How precise they are! How, in my approach, we do not even have any talk before we set up a process. You just go to the whiteboard, write down your intention, choose persons from the group, give them this part of the intention "I want to fulfill...", "I want to explore my birth process". Give them "I" "want" and so on. And without any other information, the resonators are reflecting to you your biography. It's so precise! It's fantastic! It's a miracle! An absolute miracle. Nobody knows until now how it really works –this capacity that we have. But we do have it! You can go to the Netherlands, you can go to England, go to Russia, you can go to America. Everywhere I go, this approach works! And this I find is fantastic! We have such a big tool now to make our inside outside. To make our inside, our human psyche, visible. I see it much like reading a book. Because nobody could really look inside, even if you'd make a brainscan. You only see flickering parts. But what's really the human psyche is what we feel, what we think, what we reflect, what we imagine, what we remember, and then you see it. For me, this, you call it constellation technique or we can call it resonance technique, is like reading, as an open book, where you can read about the human psyche. I find this fantastic!

Great, allright, thanks Franz!

You're welcome Oscar.

See you later!


E-mail me at or call and whatsapp me directly at +31 (0) 616261381.