Interview on Systemic Work with Judith Hemming

ISCA interview with Judith Hemming

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.


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We are in Kochel in the south of Germany. And I'm sitting here with Judith Hemming and she is an experienced facilitator for 26 years by now. So, I have some questions. So, how are you?

I'm very well!

Good! Actually I was saying yesterday to her that I love her voice so much, so I hope you'll enjoy that as well as much as I do.

Ahw, thank you!

Allright, so, the first question I'm asking a lot of constellation practitioners is this: How would you explain constellations? What does constellations mean to you? Because it seems that a lot of us have a hard time explaining it.

Well, I'm sure it depends a lot who you're explaining it to, because there are people who have some notion of the field and of the interconnectedness between people and with the fact that something –this remarkable capacity to be able to have the dynamics around your situation animate– which is such a strange concept for some people. In which case, if I'm working in a more corporate field or something like that, I would suggest something a little bit less startling, that we could map the dynamics. And that they would have the opportunity to stand back, and that they might benefit from knowing something about some of these sort of deep patterns about what makes human systems fall into balance and rest and which ones set up a lot of unease. So I could do it as simply as that. And obviously, when I am teaching, then explaining it becomes more of a way of looking at both the methodology and what it means to be a facilitator of the methodology, which is a little bit different, really.

What's the difference if you would put it in one way?

In a way, the methodology is rather straightforward. You can set up anything and you can get information, but the rather precious energies that emerge out of it, which often have quite a sacred feel, they open up the possibility of change in a way that's different from an ordinary conversation or a group process. I think that requires the development of quite a hard one –practices and abilities of a lot of a facilitator – because it's hard to be phenomenologically accurate, to really look at something and not place it interpretationally, but to see if the way you'd describe it, begins to let it give you more information. It's really a question of "Who is in charge of the information?" So I think there are lots and lots of different ways of talking about it and it really depends on whether the person who is listening is on their own journey into constellations or whether they just want to know something about the methodology so that they can see whether it's something that could help them with a particular issue. And probably there's also people who are philosophically and politically interested in the idea of influence at a distance and where knowledge is stored. All those kind of things.

Okay, and so, in September, I believe, there's the ISCA conference, and so I'm also very intrigued with the interrelations in the international field of constellators. So, if I would ask you: How do you feel connected to the other people at work?

Because I've been teaching at, what was Bernried, such a long time, there was a kind of process developed whereby people came from all over the world, who were trying to develop constellations in their country, and if they liked the contribution made by the facilitators, they would invite them. So my connections to the international world has come a lot from having been invited by people who have watched me work, which has been an absolutely miraculous opportunity to get to know countries and to get to know the world and to get to know the history of communities, and so on, in a different kind of way. So, I have had a lot to do with some parts of the world, some parts in Latin America, obviously lots of Europe, a little bit in China and Japan and Australia. I feel like as if I have been given free airfares, not first class, to many, many countries, where this work has taken off, and it has been lovely to be part of a community of people who are supporting those very dedicated practitioners.

And what do they support? What's the essence of that?

Well, I think different facilitators support different things. Whether you intend to have a specialism or not, people [do] attribute specialisms to you. Because I used to be a teacher of literature and language –and I don't know if it's really because of that– but I have a great interest in the accompanying language of the world and how you can use sentences in a sort of ritual way, to, not just have a visual image of what's happening in a constellation, but actually, to, sort of, surface truth and to begin to create a movement towards people being in a better place, more connected, and more resolved with something. So, I think my contribution has probably been a lot to do with "the languaging" of the work and the sort of beauty that comes out of them –the sounds as well as the pictures, you know.

That's a great bridge towards the last question, which is: If you look at the movement of the constellation work. Every industry or practice has their own development as it were, what do you see as the next development, or what would be your invitation for practitioners around the world to be more of or less of or to be aware of, or like an invitation to grow in a certain direction, maybe that you would invite?

Well, it's such a diverse community around the world, that I know of, [that] I would think almost everything has been represented, but, because it has been growing rather fast, what seems to be difficult for people to do is to get enough feedback and supervision, and to continue their own deep personal work, to make them reliable. So I have a feeling that there are quite a lot of people doing this work who are under-supported, who don't have a mirror shown up to them in such a way that they're really able to do it –sort of– responsibly and well, and who are not on a personal journey. Not because they don't want to be, but, because, somehow, if you think about the field of psychotherapy, you have to have supervision, because it's all part of the regulatory process. [Instead] we don't have a regulatory process. And so I think there are probably constellators who could be helped to be more safe and to go moor deeply into it. Ongoing learning about constellations. Because the economic climate is less friendly now – it used to be that people did incredibly intense trainings – I mean, certainly in your country they did. But because everything is more expensive now and people are trying to say "Well, I have done a weekend" or something like that, and it's obviously not enough, because it's an incredibly demanding occupation, really. For me anyways. It uses everything I ever learned in every direction. And I would terribly miss not being able to talk about the work with my colleagues. And I have a feeling that there probably isn't quite enough of that humble sharing and learning together once you've stopped being a student.

Is there anything you're particularly excited about, just to close it all off? Like something that you think "Oh yeah, that excites my heart from having seen so much, having done so much"?

I feel incredibly friendly towards the whole world of constellations and I am very confident that it's just going on expanding in lots of different directions. I'm particularly happy that I'm doing theatrical theatre work at the moment. I love that! But I'm withdrawing because I'm in my 70th year. That's why I didn't shave, so I'm looking a little bit younger/older. So, in a way, I feel like I'm already in the process of handing my thrust over to other generations. [interruption] I feel trusting that this movement is a very good movement and that it will go on happily. It has given me a great deal. And now it's probably time for me to be, sort of, called elsewhere. And that's what I'm trying to do. Not that I'm stopping everything. I'm not whizzing around the world so much.

Great! Allright, thanks for the interview!

You're very welcome!

And see you in class!


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