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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

An Interview with Natalia Spokoinyi

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

Gordon: When did you attend Moscow State University of Transport, what did you study, and what is one of your favorite memories when you were there?

Natalia: I learnt Applied mathematics in Moscow from 1975 to 1980 and at the same time I taught gifted high school students mathematics in a mathematical university school. I was living in the USSR at the time and was formally a non-believer. But I was always looking for true spirituality. Therefore, my favorite memories are associated with the fact that along with my studies I was involved in a lot of so-called social work. In particular, I organized concerts of bardic songs in the House of Culture of the University (hall for 1000 people) with B. Okudzhava, A. Gorodnitsky, V. Vysotsky and other authors. Besides, organized film elective course and theater group: organized watching of unreleased films by Elem Klimov, Tarkovsky, Fellini and others, as well as trips to the Taganka Theatre with V. Vysotsky and other prominent actors, often dissidents. There was an opportunity to experience spiritual culture there.

Gordon: When did you work as Engineer-Mathematician at Joint Stock Company Railway Research Institute Moscow 1980-1993, Russia and what did you enjoy most about your work?

Natalia: My work was not interesting. I continued my social work I started at university. Also, my long journey to faith began in 1982. I worked for 5 years until 1985, then I had 4 children in a row (the first child died very early) and was on academic leave until I went to Paris to Orsay University with my children in 1992 because of my husband's work.

In January 1988 I was baptized by Father Alexander Men along with my eldest son and started recording his sermons and general confessions on a tape recorder and a little later his lectures. And I started distributing them to my acquaintances. After Fr. Alexander Men’s murder, I came to the Church of Cosmas and Damian in Moscow to the priests Alexander Borisov and Vladimir Lapshin. There I met Fr. Georgy Chistyakov and began to study New Testament Exegetics with him. I recorded his sermons and lectures and distributed them in our community. Later, after his death, several books were compiled from these recordings.

In 1982, my husband (also a mathematician) was invited to the University of Orsay near Paris. We went there with 3 small children (from 2 to 5 years old). Father George sent me to Meudon to visit Père René Marichal, with whom I studied for a while. I brought books and cassettes of Father A. Men's sermons to the Meudon as well as to the priests of the Orthodox Church in Paris.

In Paris, my husband was invited to work in Berlin, where we moved in October 1993. Between 1997 and 2000, I had three more children. In Berlin, I was a volunteer catechist at the Orthodox Cathedral, headed the Mercy Group, and ran a Sunday school for children and teenagers. I saw a lot of teenagers die there from bad drugs. By that time I had become interested in Christian psychology and wondered why they were getting into bad companies and using cheap low-quality drugs.

I did some research and realized that Russian-speaking children have a different mentality. It is difficult for them to find friends among German children, so they often end up in bad companies where they become hooked on drugs. So I set up a youth club in our community so that teenagers can find friends. Fortunately, after a short time the situation improved noticeably. For the mercy group Fr. Father Cyril Kozina in Brussels (I went there with my husband on a business trip) gave us books from the publishing house Life with God, including children's books. We sold the books to parishioners and sent the proceeds to prisoners in Germany and Russia, as well as to those in desperate need. Later, I began to bring books Fr. A Men, Fr. G Chistyakov, Metropolitan Anthony Bloom (bishop of the Diocese of Sourozh), Fr. A. Schmemann and others from Moscow to the Mercy Group.

Gordon: You are currently working as a Theologist, Lecturer for exegesis of Old and New Testament at Psychological Center of the Russian Orthodox Church What courses do you teach?

Natalia: I am not currently teaching as a theologian. That was in the past. I teach Systemic Constellations, which to me is living Christianity, Christianity in action. Because when with their help a person is freed from the trauma of his kin, that person begins to feel the presence of God in their life without any catechesis. I did not like lectures on theology.

I used to lead evangelistic and biblical groups where we studied Holy Scripture together. I shared my knowledge that I got from many famous theologians and from books. But the main thing was our prayer fellowship, when we reflected together on the text, watched various translations of the Holy Scriptures and discussed what we had read. We also discussed the problems we were facing. The Word of God came alive in that way. Sometimes teenagers took part in the group, sometimes they argued and objected, which brought even more life into these meetings. Unfortunately, with the death of our bishop and the arrival of a new one, things changed drastically and I had to leave the Cathedral.

The Sunday School materials were read by my friends in Riga and they told about me at the Monastery of Bose (Italy, abbot Fr. Enzo Bianchi), where I was invited to theological ecumenical conferences. By this time I had already been recognised as a theologian, although at the time I was studying with such prominent priests as Fr. Alexander Men (murdered by the KGB in 1990), Father Georgy Chistyakov, and at Meudon with Père René Marichal, Father Cyril Kozina in Brussels and some other Eastern-Rite Catholics, there were no spiritual educational institutions in the USSR and I did not receive a degree.

At the Bose Monastery I met the outstanding theologian.This amazing little monastery in the mountains brings light to the world. It is a place where LOVE and ORDER live together. Every time after returning from there miracles happened in my life.

Gordon: When did you attend Method of Marilyn Murray what did you study and what is one of your favorite memories when you were there?

Natalia: I studied Christian psychology and trauma therapy, particularly after sexual violence and abuse. I was most impressed by Marilyn Murray's book “Prisoner of Another War”. I had read it before the course began and that is why I flew from Berlin to Moscow, leaving my six children at home (the youngest was 5, 6 and 8 years old) to study with Marilyn in my native language. The most useful things for me on the course were the "Circles of Proximity, Responsibility and Influence". I use them all the time when teaching my students. The first circle is I and God; the second two are 2a and 2b. 2a - my husband or wife or partner who lives in the same area with me. 2b- my minor children or parents for minor children. In circles 3 onwards - parents of adult children and adult children, friends, work, etc. And Marilyn was always asking us about our families and whether we were keeping this order in them. And she scolded very much the student who went 4 times a week to visit his old mother, leaving his wife and two small children alone 4 nights a week. She said she wouldn't let him attend the course unless he reduced the trips to once a week. And will hire a mum's helper for the rest of the time. It was also the first time I heard her talk about her family and how subconsciously she and her family were repeating the hard fate of their ancestors. Later I came across this phenomenon in systemic constellations.

Gordon: You attended various prominent institutions, such as the Institute for Systemic Consultancy in Wiesloch, Germany, APSYS - Institute for Systemic Praxis, Constellation and Reconstruction Work in Graz, Austria, the Institute for Systemic Counselling and Solutions in Moscow, the Institute for sexual therapy Aachen/Heidelberg, and the Institute for Drug Abuse Therapy Schömberg, among others. Which courses were the most significant courses for you? What impact has your studies had upon your work?

Natalia: When I was told about the systemic constellations in 2008, I said: "It can't be" and went to deny it. But when I came to see and participate, I was amazed. It was as if I heard God's call and realised that this was my calling. I spent a long time looking for a place to learn this. I spent a year in Berlin, doing very successful constellations for members of our community. Only in January 2009 I found the Institute for Systemic Counselling and Solutions in Moscow, where the best professors from the Institute for Systemic Consultancy in Wiesloch, Germany; APSYS - Institute for Systemic Praxis, Constellation and Reconstruction Work, Graz, Austria; College of Psychology, Moscow; Institut für Sexualtherapie Aachen/Heidelberg; Institut für Suchttherapie (Roland Schilling, Schömberg) and others taught different courses. I was lucky enough to study in Moscow (I flew from Berlin every 2-3 months for two modules at a time) for 6 years with the best German, Austrian and American teachers with a Russian translation.

When I was introduced to Systemic Constellation, I realised that it is not psychotherapy, it is spirit therapy. It is group work "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them" (Matthew 18:20). And in each constellation real miracles happen. People unfamiliar to the client step into the role of members of the client's family and broadcast information about them that is important for this work. And this information is surprisingly confirmed almost every time by facts from the client's history. Therefore it can only come from the Highest. Actually constellation is not therapy, but a way of getting important information. I call it Cutting-Edge IT. It is an MRI of the subconscious mind.

Modern science has proved that it is in the subconscious that the programmes that control us are located. That is why a person wants to quit drinking or another addiction and cannot. And often the treatment of chemical addiction alone is ineffective. It is important to change this programme in the subconscious. And to do that, understand where it comes from. And it comes from our ancestors. From their traumas, and unspoken ones. They pass on to our descendants who as it were repeat them in a lighter form in their lives.

I don't believe in the results of my constellations myself. I am not a doctor, but my clients are getting away with hepatitis C, lupus erythematosus, systemic diseases and even mental illnesses. Clients write about them on the website of my institute. At the Eurasian Psychotherapy Congress in 2013 my presentation was called "Commandments of God (biblical and evangelical) as orders in constellation work". In it I used the text of the Bible and the Gospel to show that everything we do in Systemic Constellation is in accordance with the Commandments. This presentation was at the Spiritually Guided Psychotherapy section, which was chaired by Adrian Rhodes, president of EAP, an Anglican priest with 40 years' experience. He was interested in the report and asked for a presentation. In a constellation we receive unique information which can only come from the Holy Spirit. Both Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant priests attended my constellations. And everyone was inspired and agreed that this information can only come from the Spirit. And that all we do is to show the client why one should IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Especially for the hard stuff. And when the client understands this, real miracles happen in their lives. This is why my work is my ministry. Constellation as a worship service. And I consider it my mission to bring this method to the world and therefore teach it to students. Including in an online format. And at numerous psychotherapy congresses, my students and I make presentations on the method and its miraculous results using examples from our clients.

Gordon: When were you appointed Director of IIS (Berlin) as a Certified psychologist and member of the World Council for Psychotherapy, and what are your primary responsibilities?

Natalia: I have been working since 2013 in my private institute IIS-Berlin (International Institute for Systemic Constellations) as a teacher of spiritually-oriented systemic constellations of various kinds and integral short-term trauma therapy. And I am also certified in the CI (Constellators International) Association. I consider it my main responsibility to teach students effectively so that after a short time they can work with their clients with quality and success. I also consider it my duty to testify to the world about systemic constellations, especially to psychotherapists and priests. This is why I speak at various psychotherapeutic congresses, including online, and not only talk about constellations, but also demonstrate their effects on the participants.

Gordon: Germany has the best record on controlling substance abuse in Europe. What are the most effective methods of substance use control that the government uses?

Natalia: I am not a doctor and I have a private institute. I don't know what methods the government uses. According to my information, the government only finances different reabilitation programmes. I can only share my experience and that of my colleagues. Before working with chemical dependency it is important to work on mental addiction. I consider the most effective methods to be systemic constellation, in which we get to know where the client's addiction comes from. It is as if we open a window into the subconscious mind and take the information we need. After that we work together with the client to neutralize this programme. Moreover, according to the law of energy conservation we cannot get rid of anything. That's why it's important to convert this heavy energy into a resource, which we do in constellation and the following therapy. It's like we turn a minus into a plus. I have done more than 9000 constellations and many of my students and colleagues have done them. And all of them have similar results - the client converts the difficult thing into a resource.

I have several clients who have come out of alcohol, gambling and food addiction. It is mostly parents who come to me with their children's drug problems. And the constellation has helped in several cases me and my colleagues. But it is very hard work. And the client's motivation and patience are important. And often also courage. A supportive environment is also important. And here the Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous groups are of invaluable help. "For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there..." (Matthew 18:20). That's why the results are so good. I find these two methods to be the most effective I have seen as mental addiction therapy.

Gordon: Thank you for sharing your background and insights with our readers.

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