ISCA past, present and future
April 21, 2023

ISCA past, present and future

How ISCA Came to be


Discussions about an international association for systemic constellations were initiated many years ago by members of the IAG (roughly translated as The International Working Group for Systemic Resolution in the Tradition of Bert Hellinger). Under the leadership of Heinrich Breuer, the mainly German IAG was eager to investigate the possibility of creating an international association.

At the 2005 International Congress in Cologne, Heinrich Breuer, Gunthard Weber, Albrecht Mahr, Jakob Schneider and Hunter Beaumont convened a meeting which was representing all the countries attending the conference. The goal was to assess the interest in creating an international organisation, which the participants unanimously agreed to pursue. Concerns about criteria and the need for an inclusive vision were expressed and agreed upon.

Heinrich Breuer convened a second meeting in Cologne in June 2006. Based on clear evidence of interest in the global community, a steering committee of volunteers was formed to develop the proposal for a new association, composed of Hunter Beaumont (Germany), Heinrich Breuer (Germany), Gerard Fossat (France), Milena Karlinska (Poland), Annouche Katzeff (Belgium), Constanze Potschka-Lang (France), Katharina Stresius (Germany), Marta Thorsheim (Norway), and Richard Wallstein (England) with Richard as Chairman.

The proposal developed included a name for the organisation:

“International Systemic Constellation Association (ISCA)”

and contained issues of membership criteria, curriculum, and website development and indicated the international community’s commitment to:

  • An inclusive Association;
  • Supporting excellence without controlling its members;
  • Multi-cultural and interdisciplinary;
  • Networking, dialogue and diversity;
  • An infrastructure supportive of the whole and the individual;
  • Supporting the field;
  • Not-for-profit.

In May 2007, the proposal was presented to the “Founding Assembly of ISCA” to 80 practitioners from around the world, following the close of the International Congress in Cologne. There were discussions and suggestions coming from Assembly members, including a move, carried by the Assembly, to honour Bert Hellinger as the founder of systemic constellation work. The Assembly voted unanimously to proceed with creating an Association in accordance with the amended committee’s proposal, hereafter known as the Original Charter of ISCA.

Hunter Beaumont, Richard Wallstein and Constanze Potschka-Lang were elected as the first Board of ISCA in the positions of President, Vice President and Treasurer respectively. The IAG donated €3,500 as a start-up fund. The original charter was changed and shortened during the following year and was registered on 1st July 2008.

In the period from 2007 to 2011 during the Chairmanship of Hunter Beaumont, it was decided that the International Training Intensive, which had been running since 2001 at ZIST and was also organised by Hunter Beaumont, would come under ISCA’s umbrella. The annual Intensive became officially the main activity of ISCA and it provided a fantastic learning opportunity for people from all over the world for many years, especially before other intensives were established worldwide.

However, despite the success of the Intensive, this arrangement did not seem to work that well for ISCA as an international professional association of constellators, which endeavoured to also promote SCW in the mainstream, to be a source of information and support for members and the public as well as to be the all-inclusive platform from which to foster diversity in the development of Systemic Constellation Work. The focus solely on the Intensive, did not seem to do much towards realising the goals as defined in ISCA’s mission.

After the retirement of Hunter Beaumont, the organisation of the Intensive (now being popularly called ‘Bernried’ after the changed location) was entrusted to Lutz Bessel, who also became General Manager for ISCA. Even though the Intensive was running successfully every year, the then ISCA Board, together with its managing director concluded that there was not enough energy for ISCA to be maintained as an international association. In an email sent to all members in Autumn 2014, ISCA was being declared unsustainable – despite a healthy bank account – as well as lacking interest coming from its members. They suggested that ISCA be closed.

For the association to be closed, the decision had to be endorsed by 75% of the voting membership. This result was not reached and elections for a new Board were held. The newly elected Board took over in 2015. The Chair, Max Dauskardt put most effort in keeping the association afloat and breathing fresh life into it by setting some new directions.

As part of the handover process in May 2015 the decision was made to separate the Bernried Intensive from ISCA. Lutz Bessel continued to organise the intensive as his initiative.

The first term after this major change for ISCA was marked by some difficulty, as this, basically new association, was trying to strengthen its legs. The new Board inherited the Association’s legacy of an ambivalent relationship to the founder of SCW and a passive membership with some doubts about the ability of the association to represent their interests and to support them in their practice / implementation of the work. How to be inclusive of all the different approaches to SCW, in itself not easily definable, with constant change being a hallmark of the constellation approach – remains a challenge.

In its second term, Chair Max Dauskardt, together with his fellow elected Board members Paul Stoney, Aud Marit Esbensen and co-opted member Alemka Dauskardt, organised the second ISCA Gathering in Opatija in September 2018. This Gathering strengthened the Association according to its vision and mission goals, guided by the motto “strengthening what we have in common, while celebrating our diversity”, thus taking another step towards ISCA’s future. Regular monthly online members meetings and lively Facebook group with many members, among other activities, became an encouraging sign of ISCA’s continuity.

The Expansion of ISCA

In July 2019 a new ISCA Board of five was elected to reflect the expanding nature of ISCA’s vision. The new Board was Chair: Paul Stoney (UK), Vice-Chair: Stephanie Hartung (Germany), Treasurer: Louis Hillebrand (Belgium), Head of Regional Chapters: Alexander Finkelstein (Mexico), Head of Communications: Cristina Muntean (Czech Republic). Over the following two years the number of Regional Chapters grew and offered monthly members meetings in Spanish, French, Turkish, Greek and Portuguese. In 2020 ISCA launched a new members website which has given further opportunities for communications amongst members and storing resource material (such as recordings of online members discussions).

The ISCA 2021 Gathering (theme “Belonging – Thriving Together”) was planned to take place in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico but when the coronavirus pandemic curbed international travel over the next two years the decision was taken to hold it online. Despite initial disappointment at not meeting in person the ISCA 2021 Gathering turned out to be a great success with nearly 50 international speakers and over 300 participants from all over the world. Because of its inclusiveness it is now our intention to hold the next ISCA 2023 Gathering online as well.

In July 2021 four of the five existing Board stood again to be re-elected and were joined by Nikos Vayiakakos (Greece) who took on the responsibilities of communication and public relations. As well as the growing monthly members meetings there was an increase in other special online events such as “ISCA café” and “Systemic Gems” and mini-intensives run by Regional Chapters.

The Future of ISCA

Since the pandemic there have been many online initiatives in the Constellation world. Since 2020 the Australasian International Intensive has been running a large scale online annual constellation conference and have recently started online training programs. The South African based REAL Academy have also been providing online talks and other resources for Constellators. These initiatives have been welcomed by ISCA as they are designed to support and strengthen constellators in their practice. This has also been the contribution of ‘The Knowing Field’ journal with which ISCA has collaborated over the years.

Paul Stoney

Paul Stoney

Chair of ISCA 2019 – 2025

Article reposted from the ISCA website

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