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Introduction: this is a demonstration of symbolic, metaphorical work from Module 3 of Integrative Systemic Coaching. Monsters are common in symbolic images and it is important that we do not reject or destroy them, but integrate them. During integration, metaphorical work often spontaneously transitions to work with specific family problems. The transcript was taken during an online training in 2020.

 

KOSJENKA

This time we can focus on monsters and black holes and we’ll see what else we’ll have time for. Did anybody encounter a monster in your internal travels that you would like to have a chat with? (Silence) You’re either a very healthy or a very shy group. Can anybody imagine that they have a monster inside?

ANGELA

I can.

KOSJENKA

Thank you, Angela. Something I just remembered, sometimes when a client tells me they can’t imagine something I ask them, Can you imagine that you can imagine it? It doesn’t always work, but it does often help to jump over that mental barrier.

ANGELA

I know we were supposed to talk about monsters but I just remembered something. When we were working on family maps I actually found this dark or black angel standing behind my mother and I just wanted to ask if that qualifies as demon or monster

KOSJENKA

It does qualify quite well. A monster doesn’t have to be a traditional dragon or a devil from hell. Just any kind of creature you find in your waking dreams that you are confused about. Angela, please close your eyes. Remember that dark angel behind your mother. Is it a big angel, a small angel, is it angry, is it sad…?

ANGELA

This is not actually an angel, it’s more of something between a bat and a dragon, but his wings are more like angel-like. It’s very big.

KOSJENKA

Interesting. What is the facial expression of that creature, whatever it is?

ANGELA

He reminds me of those gargoyles on the Notre-Dame cathedral although he’s not made of stone, he’s moving, but that’s how he looks like, his expression.

KOSJENKA

What kind of emotional energy is coming from him?

ANGELA

It’s hard to find an emotion, so I will say what’s happening with me. The creature starts with a dark cloud and then it solidifies until it becomes stone. I feel a cramp in my stomach and I feel like throwing up. When I think about it further, I feel like it’s there to take something away  from us. And my mother looks terrified of him and actually I am in a different position, but my mother really does feel terrified.

KOSJENKA

Imagine to step up to this creature and say “Hi” in a friendly way, as friendly as you can. Maybe even give it your hand. What happens?

ANGELA

It’s really hard to greet him because when I come closer he’s so tall I can’t even see his face, but I’ll try to say Hello. He nodded as he said Hello back and right now his face is hanging above me as he bowed down to greet me.

KOSJENKA

Good. Ask that creature, What do you want more than anything? What does it say?

ANGELA

He wants to take away some form of innocence and he wants to lick me all over and leave his saliva all over me.

KOSJENKA

Ask this creature, Why is that so important to you?

ANGELA

It is to commemorate something, it has to be like a statue. It’s to make it memorable.

KOSJENKA

I’m a bit confused, but nevermind. What do you feel would happen if you allowed it to lick you all over?

ANGELA

I get the feeling that it would break my mother down. It’s more connected to my mother, I’m just a pawn here, this is not connected directly to me.

KOSJENKA

Feel why it would break your mother down if you allowed this monster to lick you all over. Maybe you would know something that you are not supposed to know. Maybe mother believes it would hurt you? Or maybe something else.

ANGELA

Yes, it’s about the hurt. And it’s her hurt.

KOSJENKA

Can you feel how is your mother hurt?

ANGELA

She’s terrified, numb and all dirty. She’s all covered in that saliva.

KOSJENKA

Ask the monster, Do you know how much my mother fears you? What says the monster?

ANGELA

The monster got a bit smaller and is willing to open a dialogue.

KOSJENKA

Ask the monster if it has anything to say to your mother.

ANGELA

I have two parallel answers. He says he’s sorry but on the other hand it is supposed to be a secret, nobody is supposed to know that he’s sorry. He’s scary and dangerous, but today he’s sorry. This chat itself scared him a little bit, because this was supposed to be a secret. It scared him because we’re even talking about it, that’s why he got smaller.

KOSJENKA

Yes, family secrets can often show up on the family map as either some dark or weird spot, or very much like what Angela describes. Angela, ask the monster, What do you really want? What are you really trying to do here?

ANGELA

The monster would like to be free, he would like to fly away, he doesn’t want to stay here and keep the guard.

KOSJENKA

Is it keeping the guard? If yes, who or what is it guarding?

ANGELA

He’s kind of guarding the whole family’s innocence and virginity.

KOSJENKA

Interesting. From what?

ANGELA

Basically it’s like the danger can come from any source or any direction. I feel some sort of panic. It’s like he’s there because danger can come from everywhere.

KOSJENKA

At the same time, innocence often includes ignorance. And if you’re ignorant it’s difficult to make good decisions. Ask the monster, How old do you think I am?

ANGELA

Five.

KOSJENKA

Ok. Now gently explain to the monster it’s been a long time since you’ve been five. Say to the monster, I think you’ve been asleep for a while. I’m quite adult and quite strong. What says the monster?

ANGELA

Nothing.

KOSJENKA

Ok. Ask the monster, Please open your cloak or take off your costume. Show me what you are hiding.

ANGELA

It’s a priest.

KOSJENKA

Interesting. Ask the priest what is he doing there, or what did he do?

ANGELA

I get a vision that he’s blocking my mother’s mouth.

KOSJENKA

Look at your mother. She is so afraid of that priest. Can you guess what is she so afraid of?

ANGELA

My heart is pounding and I get the feeling that if she misbehaves he can come whenever he wants and punish her. And me, as my mother, I can feel my mother now, I feel ashamed that I could be punished again.

KOSJENKA

If you are mother, sounds like you were punished before. Guess who punished you and what for. Maybe you (mother) were naughty as a little girl, maybe you had sex with somebody you shouldn’t have, maybe you even got pregnant, maybe you got your clothes dirty as a kid, anything.

ANGELA

I can see that this punishment is for being spontaneous, for not thinking through decisions.

KOSJENKA

How old is mother when she fears being punished for being spontaneous?

ANGELA

Five, four.

KOSJENKA

Now please imagine that you are the monster. In the same time you want to lick Angela and her mother, you want to protect them and somehow you also want to punish them, or maybe they are imagining it. Do you want them to be so afraid of you?

ANGELA

This feeling of fear, that’s actually, that’s the way to lick people. I don’t feel the connection with myself, to be honest, this is all connected to my mother. I’m not even able to look at myself.

KOSJENKA

It sounds like your mother used to be spontaneous and then did something she was punished for. What is important here is how to get the monster to help. Imagine that you are the monster. Look at Angela’s mother through monster’s eyes. Do you want her to be so afraid?

ANGELA

No, the most important thing to me is to guard the family.

KOSJENKA

What do you want for the family? How do you want to guard them?

ANGELA

By taking away spontaneity, so that they don’t make mistakes.

KOSJENKA

If you are the monster-priest, who put you there? Maybe mother created you?

ANGELA

Yes, that’s my mother’s creation.

KOSJENKA

Sounds like your mother split off a part of herself and made it into a monster to prevent her from making mistakes. In the same time, what can she learn if she never makes mistakes? Maybe it’s not the monster’s decision. Say to mother, You are not five years old anymore. What says mother?

ANGELA

She’s crying.

KOSJENKA

Say to mother, It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s normal, it’s human, good people make mistakes, it’s a good way to learn. What says mother?

ANGELA

She’s still crying, but she’s not laying down anymore, she’s sitting up now.

KOSJENKA

Ask your mother what does she really want in this moment.

ANGELA

She wants to rest.

KOSJENKA

Imagine to allow mother to rest. Imagine that maybe mother can rest for days or for weeks or for months or even for years, if she wants.

ANGELA

This is amazing because my mother for seventy something years didn’t allow herself to rest, and now she’s resting.

KOSJENKA

Maybe that monster priest was there to keep her controlling herself. Not only from making mistakes but from physically allowing herself to be human. Imagine to buy mother a beautiful vacation. Maybe a trip around the world. Maybe even a trip to the moon, it might be possible soon, who knows. Maybe she can go to Hawaii, to the Caribbean, to Alps, to South America. Maybe she would just like to spend a few months on a beach. Just imagine she can really rest and relax like never before in her life.

ANGELA

I am very moved and emotional here, I would like to take her on vacation but she chose a botanical garden and watching flowers.

KOSJENKA

Totally fine. She can watch flowers grow for months if she wants.

ANGELA

This priest now looks like he always was one of those toys pumped with air, so now the air stopped being pumped and he’s losing the air.

KOSJENKA

Good. Who taught mother that she shouldn’t rest and play?

ANGELA

Her mother.

KOSJENKA

Ask the memory or the soul of your grandmother to give your mother permission to be human. To give mother permission to rest, to play, to have fun.

ANGELA

Grandma is now explaining herself, she’s trying to say that’s not what she meant, she didn’t want to take it away from her, she didn’t want to take fun away from her, they didn’t have money, so if she destroyed her clothes, for example, they wouldn’t have money to buy her new ones. She was also the older sibling, so she was supposed to be there, to help. They just didn’t have money to allow themselves to relax.

KOSJENKA

It’s quite understandable for that time. I heard stories about kids in old times who had to leave their families and go to work as servants at the age of eight, ten, twelve. Your mother had it easier compared to that. Say to grandmother, I’m not here to blame you. I just need your help. What says grandmother?

ANGELA

She’s willing to help, she’s also crying, she’s actually crying saying that she only wanted good for them, but it turned out this way, her intentions were good. She’s willing to help. She’s moved.

KOSJENKA

Great. Just ask her again to give your mother permission to play, to rest, to relax.

ANGELA

She gave her all that and also she gave her some sort of like a wooden box on wheels so that she could ride down the hill on it.

KOSJENKA

Great. That could be quite funny. Imagine mother rolling down hills in that box on wheels. Hopefully she would have a soft landing.

ANGELA

That’s how I see it. That’s a small hill that I’ve never seen with my own eyes, I just know it from the stories. I know that my grandparents were working at the university and the university gave them some place to stay and that hill, that’s how I imagined it. I can see her playing there.

KOSJENKA

What happens to the monster-priest now?

ANGELA

It’s just a thing without air, flat.

KOSJENKA

Maybe you can suggest the monster-priest to turn into a doggy and he can join your mother in play and then he can lick her all he wants.

ANGELA

No, actually all this rubber he was made of, was made into a big ball they can kick and play with.

KOSJENKA

Ok, just notice what happens when mother can play with that ball.

ANGELA

There is this brightness in the family now, it’s actually producing warmth. It’s light and warm now.

KOSJENKA

Great. How does that affect you?

ANGELA

I’ve just had a situation in my real life, I’ve scolded my daughter big time, because she wanted to take her best trousers to go roller-skating. This just came back to me, now it’s funny, I can laugh at it, it’s not so serious anymore.

KOSJENKA

Excellent. It sounds like you can relax much more when your mother is relaxed too. Maybe you can explore in the following days how it can influence your life when your mother is behind playing with her rubber ball. Great, thank you very much, Angela.

ANGELA

It’s me who’s thankful.

KOSJENKA

Very welcome. (To the group) Any questions or comments?

CAROLINE

Before I say what I want to say, I want to say to Angela, please keep in mind it might be my projections. Please don’t take it personally, it might not even be connected to you. First of all I want to say that I’m impressed, Kosjenka, that you are able to go through this with a smile and with positivity because my emotions were completely different, I felt anger during the demo. You said before that the monster can be a part of us, I wanted to ask if this monster could have symbolized something that happened to Angela’s mother. What I felt was that maybe Angela’s mother was actually not misbehaving, but that was given as an excuse for punishment. Which was not really punishment but something bad that was happening to Angela’s mother. So I actually thought of sexual abuse and when I heard about this monster becoming a rubber ball that you can kick, I felt happy for that that you can finally kick it. I think it might be my projections, maybe it was my ancestors, my family that had something like that in its history, but I was just wondering what you would say to that, Kosjenka.

KOSJENKA

First of all, if you have strong emotions about something that you are working on with a client, it’s very likely that the emotions are coming from something in your history. In the same time, the most common family secrets are abortions, sexual abuse, rape or affairs. So your guess wouldn’t be far off the mark in many cases. I did gently suggest that possibility when I gave Angela several options like, Maybe your mother got dirty, or, Maybe your mother had sex when she shouldn’t, maybe she got pregnant. But in the end it’s important to allow the client to come to their own experience and information. Keep in mind everybody, if you are simply guessing based on experience, it’s different than when you feel strong emotions about what is going on. If you have strong emotions it might be a good idea to explore them, it sounds like there might be something that needs resolving. Angela, would you like to comment?

ANGELA

I also had some thoughts about that, about physical abuse, sexual abuse, but actually when I had to choose the reason I felt more excited about this freedom and frolicking. I felt more excitement about that, for many reasons, two of them most important. The first one, my mother told me a story when she was going with her older siblings to first day of pre-school or primary school, she was walking with this bag with shoes in it, she was excited, she was playing with them in the air, at some point they got lost in the trees and they were hanging off a tree. First she was beaten by her siblings, then she was beaten by her father and then she got a beating from her mother. So it wasn’t a nice experience and that was the first reason why I felt strongly about that choice. The second one is that of course sexual abuse is something very intimate, even if it’s not about us, if it’s about someone else, it’s still very intimate, and I didn’t feel so good about opening that, because we are a big group here. If I find a second bottom and feel that we should open it I will definitely say something about it, but for now I felt that this inner excitement was more important.

KOSJENKA

Great, thank you. Everyone, feel free to check your suspicions with the three possibilities, but always let the client have the last word.

 
Related articles:

Relationship Between a Therapist and a Client

Transcript: Resolving Complex Inner Conflict

Transcript: GoalWalk

 

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Online coaching 

"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate."

- C.G.Jung

Kosjenka Muk

I’m an Integrative Systemic Coaching trainer and special education teacher. I taught workshops and gave lectures in 10 countries, and helped hundreds of people in 20+ countries on 5 continents (on- and offline) find solutions for their emotional patterns. I wrote the book “Emotional Maturity In Everyday Life” and a related series of workbooks.

Some people ask me if I do bodywork such as massage too – sadly, the only type of massage I can do is rubbing salt into wounds.  😉

Just kidding. I’m actually very gentle. Most of the time.

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