From a pattern of family violence to new choices

Johannesburg, 12 Sept 2014:  I’ve been working with a family that is accustomed to relationships that are guided and informed by violent interactions. After a particularly violent interaction, in which an extended family of siblings and their adult children had come to blows, with young children as witnesses to the violence, I was asked to work with the adults first, and then the young children, all of whom were between ten and  fifteen.

The process of isolating the actual issue that had brought the family to blows was a simply one and we placed this in the centre of a “wheel” we marked out in the middle of the floor. What I did then was to mark out “wagon wheel” wedges around this issue and guide and ask the family members to find new and positive energies they could bring to the situation. We call these metaskills, referring to the conscious and intentional use of a particular “come from place” when in relationship with others.

In this process, I put forward the metaskills of commitment, respect, heart, lightness, playfulness, empathy, collaboration, inquiry, and asked them what they would like to put into the remaining blank wedge. They asked for loyalty to go into that space. It’s a big thing to go from the heated situation they were in to these new energies. We “charged” the wheel first – the family members got up, walked around the Metaskills Wheel on the floor and explored each of the eight metaskills chosen. Each person spoke with their bodies and their voices what that metaskill meant for him or her.

This worked so well with the adults, and the participation was so intensely sincere that I decided to bring the children in with the adults so they could hear the children’s voices on these skills. The emotional field softened considerably when the children began to describe with body and voice their responses to the wheel.

I separated the adults and children for the second half, which involved using the metaskill to respond to the issue that had sparked such violence. Again, the response was so powerful that I brought the children in halfway through so they could witness the shifts in attitude and the emotion that surfaced through the new awareness in the adult leaders of their extended family.

Once the children had spoken to the issue from each wedge of the wheel, we created an action that involved a conscious incorporation of some of the metaskills into their daily lives (they all live together) and the creation of a new space where open communication could begin to happen. They all decided that they would like to continue being coached as a family to guide the new learning.

For more information please contact Itta Roussos.Itta Roussos