What are Living Maps?

Living Maps (also known as family or systemic constellations), are ways of representing and resolving personal, family, social and organisational issues. This simple yet profound method offers a complete and previously unseen picture of an issue, dynamic or situation, by placing it within the context of the system within which it exists. This system will contain both ancestral (transgenerational, familial) and sociological (cultural and historical) elements unique to every individual and issue under consideration. By paying attention to the contexts that shaped our parents, grandparents and great grandparents, and therefore ourselves, a map of the entire system can be constructed. Within these formative contexts, elements such as partners, children, countries, ancestors, abandonment, heroic survival and great courage can be included. In this way the core of seemingly intractable issues can be accessed, and a new vista of connections and possibilities opened as time and space are condensed in front of us.

‘It is though a pond had become utterly still, so that a pebble dropped into it sent ripples out farther and farther and farther, having an influence that could not be understood by looking at the pebble.’

Carl Rogers

John Harris, the director of Living Maps, facilitates Systemic Life Coaching workshops internationally. John is a longtime student of prominent Systemic Coach Judith Hemming. Systemic Coaching is a solution-focused approach, pioneered by Bert Hellinger, which uses a supportive group setting to create ‘Living Maps’. These are dynamic snapshots of the systems to which we belong. Importantly, they illuminate the relationships between the various elements within those systems. From this perspective we are more able to see how things are or were, and to see clearly where we are systemically entangled with people and events, including those that belong to wider familial, historical and cultural contexts. Once a clear picture of systemic dynamics is achieved, order and balance can be restored, with benefits to both the client presenting the issue and other members of their system.

Articles by John Harris


Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts. Salman Rushdie

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