Community, Organizations and Workplace

Family systems theorists and practitioners with their good understanding of cultural diversity, communities, organizations and of power politics can be valuable consultants to communities and organizations of all sizes and types, from the private sector to non-governmental non-profits, to public agencies.

Thinking in terms of the “family as system” is a great resource to build empathy and understanding and promote conflict resolution in schools, organizations, and the workplace. A counselor working in a community-based youth day treatment program sent this feedback, “While working with our kids using KST sculpting, our kids were able to see their families from a different perspective. They felt a sense of accomplishment and were eager to support and listen to their peers do their demonstration of their families. This made for a powerful group session.”

For an example of KST Associates consultation on a Community Mediation project in Tanzania, click on Services/Consultation.

When a Systems Consultant is invited to develop a process and provide consultation to a particular organization, there is a three-fold mission, accomplished with the sculpturing process as the means:

  • To obtain each person’s view of the problem,
  • To obtain each person’s desired outcome, and notion of how to arrive there,
  • To assist the organization in working toward a mutually beneficial outcome.

Its concreteness is a vital feature of the Kvebæk Sculpture technique. As each individual places the figures in spatial relationship according to their internalized picture of the problem, this process objectifies and clarifies their view of the problem. The Family Systems Consultant utilizes the collective pictures gathered from each party in the conflict and, utilizing family systems concepts, sits down with the parties directly involved in the conflict, or with key people in the organization, and provides a carefully thought-out analysis of the situation, as viewed from all viewpoints, while at the same time honoring the confidentiality of all participants. The way in which recommendations are offered will depend upon the consultant’s sense of the openness and flexibility of the individuals involved in that particular system.

As in working with smaller systems, such as the family, the goal is to engage all members of the system in finding consensus and in working toward a win-win situation. There are no villains; the dynamics of the system may exhibit pathological patterns, but “the problem” seldom resides in one person alone. Rather, systemic issues, including organizational structure, may need to be addressed and modified in order for the organization to change into a healthier, more harmonious and productive system.

David Kvebæk spent the early to middle part of his career as family therapist in a holistic mental health center in Vikersund, Norway. He then established his own consulting firm, Kvebæk Insam Konsult, to apply the same principles, and similar techniques, to community organizations and to large companies. For example, the Toyota Corporation contracted with him to provide human systems consultation to their operations in Norway. Subsequently, he also provided training to other human resources specialists in the KST-Management version of the Kvebæk tool. Two members of the KST Associates team have trained with Kvebæk in applying these consultation skills to organizations and industry.

A search of the literature will provide avenues for further exploration. One example is: Boverie, P. E. (1991). Human systems consultant: Using family therapy in organizations. Family Therapy, 18, 61-71.