The Family Matters Immersion Program promotes embodied consciousness and reclaiming of family and ancestry in the human experience. We invited alumni of the Family Matters Immersion Program to reflect on the lasting influence of this program and ways it informs them in family, work, and other aspects of life, including creativity, community, politics, worldviews, and as constellation practitioners. Below are some of their reflections. ~~ Lisa
Alumni listed in alphabetical order by last name.
Nancy Bennett, 2012-2013
Constellations-Empathic Body/Spirit Attunement (Facebook)
I had my first experience at a workshop in 2005 with family constellations. I was aware of how isolated I felt as an individual, and I felt a sense of wanting to feel connected with my ancestors, which I hadn’t. Since then I have been inspired to obtain individual photos of each of my grandparents and my dad who passed away, and I have them on a little special table where I light a candle and I sit and can be with them. I really feel that I carry them more in my heart whereas before it was just like ‘I’m alone and I’ve isolated’, and I really have a felt sense of their presence.
The other question that you asked me is ‘how has the program made a difference’ and I kind of roll that up into my experience of you [Lisa]. The program for me has been offering a living model of how to be with myself in the world authentically, as a woman, and I really resonate deeply with the systemic worldview that I really want to integrate more deeply into myself so that I can recognize what appears to be ‘problems’ in the world or ‘problems’ in my own life from a systemic perspective rather than my own personal story. Lisa has been an inspiration, modeling authentic relationship, willing to be transparent in her own process and teaching of this work, willing to model ‘not knowing’ as a way of coming to awareness, and I value the modeling of non-judgment, accepting all that shows up without resistance in a new way of being in the world. I’ve seen this as a revolution without having to kill anybody. And the last piece that I wanted to add is that women need a place and a forum to come together and share their own wisdom as women, growing in confidence in our own way of knowing as women, and bringing the necessary balance that the world is in need of today.
June BlueSpruce, 2012-2014
My experience learning with Lisa in the Family Matters program and other workshops, particularly “An Embodied Conversation with the Internalized Colonizer” and BOB + BART with Kate Regan, has strongly affected my personal and professional life. Making ancestral and family patterns visible has helped me increase my ability to navigate issues in my own and my wife’s families. I feel more connected to and grateful for those who have gone before and more loving and compassionate with those still living. And clearer about where I belong in the midst of it all. In my work as a life coach, and healer, I have been able to use Systemic Family Constellations to facilitate insight into and movement out of stuck places in individual and group sessions. As an activist, it’s critical that I stand in my own place of belonging, accept my ancestors’ gifts, and also take responsibility for harm that I and my ancestors have caused. Lisa’s work is grounded in awareness of ancestral trauma, our national “original sins” of slavery and genocide, and the potential for healing.
Ming Huey Chang, MSW, RCSW, 2013
The Family Matters Program was my first intensive and intimate contact with family constellation. I am glad that I chose you as my first teacher. Even though I have ventured out and attended numerous international conferences and seminars, I will always remember you as my first teacher and your teaching is still with me.
Many of your words come to me in my work with clients, such as “It’s a good reminder,” “Do not look for strength in trauma,” “It’s like pushing river back,” and “It’s over.” When I think back the time in your program, your drumming, and the misty and peaceful green outside the window calms me. I have gained a solid foundation on old family constellation from you which impressed other teachers in the U.S. Summer Intensive. I realized later, the respect to the representatives and the trust in the field which I learned from you, was not a given. The quality of your work is distinguished by the quality of your meditation and your ability to ground. I describe to others that you create a “force field” around you which is how strong and how grounding your energy is.
Currently, I am in the 3rd year of Hellinger Schule’s 3 year certificate program.
Lynn Corrigan, 2015
On the impact of the Family Matters Immersion Program:
Personally, each day I am grateful to my ancestors and my family. I am more aware of my ancestral role with younger family members, and with all children. The program also helped me to be more aware of the impact of colonialism, privilege, and war in my family, and in my life.
Professionally, as a human resources consultant working with small businesses and not-for-profit organizations, the program helped me understand the impact of family issues in business, and the important distinction between the groups we join by choice, and family. It has been especially useful in understanding recurring dysfunctional patterns in groups.
Cara Dockins, 2014-2015
The Family Matters Program has had a profound effect on my life. I participated in two separate year-long groups. I look back on that time and yearn for it all over again. It was truly a nurturing, challenging, and sacred time spent in circle with others; each of us doing our own healing process. I have built long lasting relationships with many of the people in the courses. We build a lot of trust through sharing and working on our lives together.
Before my first year-long course, I had been having some hard years: my dad had recently died, I was in some relationships that were confusing, and not committed to a clear future. And I couldn’t see my life clearly.
The Constellation work and in particular my participation in the year-long programs were life changing. It’s amazing how much my life has shape-shifted since the beginning of those 2 years to now. I met my husband, I got married and now have twins. I am grateful for how the practice informs my daily experience.
The Constellation work has helped me shift perspective on family and life. The practice is with me every day, many times a day, reminding me of who, where and when I am and also reminding me of my intentions in my marriage, my relationships with my children and all my family.
Lisa is an amazing teacher and I feel very lucky to have spent so much time in circle with her. She is a graceful and skillful guide.
Verena Giebels, LMT, CCSP, MEd, 2017
In 1999 I was introduced to Family Constellations and it has been life changing for me – I got an insight into a world I have had a deep longing for, but didn’t know how to reach.
The approach helped me to understand with my mind, heart, and soul the behaviors and dynamics that run in families and throughout the generations. Facilitated from a place of presence, non-judgement, and ’acknowledging what is’, it instills compassion, love and (inner and outer) shifts for many participants.
Over the years Family Constellations has changed my relationship with family members for the better and has grounded me more in the world. The work has had a big influence in leaving my secure career as a school teacher in Germany behind and following my heart and passion by seeking training in the healing arts, including becoming a facilitator of Family Constellations myself.
Whenever I had participated in constellations with Lisa, I was moved by the depth of her work and the insights she shared about family and ancestry. Thus I signed up for her Family Matters program in 2017.
Lisa created an environment for profound conversations and guided us into deep explorations. I treasured her questioning what we usually don’t question and to acknowledge the unimaginable. Her own way of honoring ancestors and asking for their support in our daily life has refreshing and helpful.
Questions I had for Lisa regarding my own facilitation practice were met with simple and encouraging suggestions. Furthermore the example of her calm pace, reflecting the trust she has in a process unfolding in its own time, has been an inspiring resource for me. I carry many cherished memories from this program, personal and professional.
Marguerite Johnson, 2014
I knew nothing about Family Constellation work before Lisa’s email showed up in my inbox in 2014. It was an invitation to the Family Matters year long Immersion Program. When I looked at her email, everything lit up in neon lights! Clearly I was being moved in a deep way to participate, not knowing how the depth of the field of ancestors would touch my life.
I live a full life in being a wife, mother and grandmother with a full professional life. Family Constellation touches on every aspect of my life and the lives of those I touch. I’m always so curious when a struggle appears in any relationship and there is no back story as to why the struggle. That experience lights up for me as clear information that there is an ancestral story asking to be seen.
As a spiritual guidance and soulwork facilitator, it is wonderful to have the wisdom of Family Constellation work to offer. It allows the ease and flow in exploring unanswered questions and complexities in relationships. We discover, not so much answers, but freedom and spaciousness when this wisdom is integrated into a session or vulnerable conversation.
My work, as a facilitator with MendingBabyloss, invites me to create and hold a container to make visible and to welcome grief. When we ask for the support of our ancestors, life is given, even in experiencing the trauma of death. I believe the support of my own ancestors allows me to hold such a container so that others can cross the threshold of their grief and step more fully into their lives.
So much gratitude to Lisa for holding the holy and sacred place between life and death for all of us. I so cherish the loving relationships that were born in the year of my Family Matters Immersion Program.
Karin Konstantynowicz, 2012-2015
I’ve always been drawn to systemic thinking. It helps me understand the world without over-simplifying things. But I had never thought of applying systemic thinking to family systems. Learning with Lisa Iversen and Family Matters was a deep dive into the field. One that has proven to be invaluable in all aspects of my life, creatively, in the world of work and most significantly in my family.
I want to add, it’s no magic bullet. It’s not about changing circumstances. Creating a happy-ever-after-meme. But what it does give is a solid, compassionate and soulful way of understanding and moving through this life.
Anita Larshus, 2012-2014
I was a participant in the first Family Matters Program. When our program ended, my husband and I left WA on an RV first-time adventure that landed us in northern Arizona. We returned two years ago for the birth of my first grandchild, and as a result, Family Matters has become more alive in me than ever before.
As a grandmother, post Family Matters participant, and three living generations of family, the systemic work of Bert Hellinger, Lisa and our caudre has become more organic and tangible. With this expanded knowledge of the work and with the blessings and happy support of my ancestors, I am now beginning to offer individual Systemic Family Constellation sessions as a practitioner.
Sonya Lea, 2018
I came to the Family Matters Immersion Program to learn more of Lisa Iversen’s lifelong awareness of the “hollow bone,” or facility living in the Knowing Field, and to discover how this interplay might impact my art. As a writer, I’m creating family and ancestral stories, and the writers I mentor also work with narratives strongly impacted by family trauma and healing. I’ve become aware that every part of my artistic and teaching process has been impacted by an experiential study of Family Constellations, from the genesis of a story, to the permissions necessary for the work to unfold, to the deep training in what might be known as a recovery of my ancestral mind, and my family’s own indigenous wisdom as it is told inside a story, and as it is lived in a multifaceted existence. The program has been revelatory, not just for my art but my life. The work impacts all my relationships, including those with my husband, children, my deceased parents, my extended family, and with my students, and with beings of all kinds in nature. There’s a cellular impact of this work on the body, a sense of shifting toward a foundational awareness with a vision that the culture might not reflect. In this way, I can say that I’m increasingly present to the entanglements that have bound me to false notions of myself and my family, and more open to the truth as it appears.
Helen Lowe, 2014
First and foremost, it would be hard to overstate how affected I was by Lisa’s style of facilitation. I’ve studied/trained/explored with an array of diverse facilitators/guides/teachers over the years, many of whom are quite gifted and have given me much. Yet there is so often a subtle or overt quality of “guru worship” among fellow participants/students that I find tiresome to be around. There was none of this with Lisa. She simply did not create any space for it. That was a refreshing delight.
Being in circle with Lisa and the other beautiful souls in the Family Matters Immersion Program was deeply grounding and a reliable source of soul-sustenance during a year that I was uprooting myself from much that had defined my life. Aside from the richness of the Family Constellation work itself, the wholesome, contemplative and ceremonial container Lisa cultivated was of profound support in that turbulent time. Since completing our year together (four years ago now), our cohort remains a community of support to each other.
I’d been a “student” of Bert Hellinger’s work for years before meeting Lisa, yet it was that year of being so fully steeped in the knowing field with her that deepened my experiential understanding to the point that I was able to “make it my own,” so to speak. While I don’t facilitate the Family Constellations form, what I’ve discovered through that form has informed my work with people in both one-on-one and group settings. And recently I’ve been inspired to blend systemic constellations into my work with the Enneagram, inviting people into an in-bodied, experiential understanding of that sacred geometry.
Ultimately, standing as representative, over and over again, across so many months, gave me profound, embodied insight into the lived world of “others” and the very nature of being. I sense it’s impossible for me to fully comprehend the myriad visible and invisible ways that my experiences in Lisa’s Family Matters Immersion Program have influenced my life and the lives of people I touch.
Laya Shriaberg, 2012-2014
When I think of my participation in first 3 years of FMIP (2012-4), I fondly remember the felt sense of visceral ease & emotional trust that comes from being seen while participating in others’ truths.
In my personal life, the FMIP has influenced the depth of purpose I feel when showing up as a daughter & sister with my family of origin. The live & firm connection with them that this program inspired in me cuts thru miles of geographical distance & huge time line gaps. I feel more tender & affectionate towards them & more respectful too.
In my spiritual life, I have a much deeper sense of both communicating with my ancestors & viscerally feeling them as they accompany me in my life.
For work, I see clients for massage & energy healing. The FMIP has augmented my felt sense of slow & respectful ancestral presence during sessions. As an energy healer, FMIP has greatly sharpened the clarity of my conversations with my clients’ ancestors. Boundaries shift more immediately & mutual compassion is often embarked upon.
The biggest miracle, however, is that in the last year of the program, I perceived the strong presence of a French perfumer ancestor who lived 250 years ago. Combined with our creative inquiry that we design an Art Chest Offering to the ancestors, this ancestor’s acute presence guided me to make 9 custom essential oil perfume blends for the 9 participants in the program. This ancestor instilled & enlivened within me an unshakable certainty that my olfactory gifts would be received deeply & they were! Two years later I developed a line of potent botanical perfumes, launched a perfume company & have been introducing the public to a new way of embodying their power thru scent ever since. With the soul feedback I received from my FMIP companions, I am grateful to be in this creative, soul-gratifying pursuit.
Anne Tize, 2014
I came to Family Matters in my search to find a way to stop my food allergies.
I was told by a couple of practitioners who treat allergies, that mine can not be dealt with as they go back way before my conception. … That means Ancestors… right!?
And I knew I had to do some intensive work. That’s why I signed up for the one year workshop.
Looking back, I was right. It worked! After 20 years of a gluten- and dairy free diet I can now eat both without any problems. I would say I am about 90% better… just the odd reaction here and there to hidden things.
The combination of Lisa’s workshop and NAET-treatments (NAET.COM) worked the magic. I also learned a lot about myself, made peace with my ancestors and I hope I cleared the path for my family members too.
Lisa is such a great teacher, facilitator and councillor that I felt very safe with her and I absolutely admire her way of always finding the right way to help people solve their problems.
This is only the most obvious part of how Family Matters worked for me. Others are wonderful warm on-going friendships with my fellow participants in the workshop and watching and learning about a very interesting way of healing.
I have recommended your sessions to quite a few others and a couple are really interested in joining as soon as you’ll be able to come back to Vancouver.