My Personal Life

With Family Constellations you tell me about yourself and your family and so it seems only fair that I tell you something about me and mine.

I’m the eldest child of Cecil and Rita Mathews. Because my parents came from different ethnic backgrounds, we never belonged to just one particular group. We soon realized there are many sides to every story and, thankfully, we were not asked to take sides. We were encouraged to engage with all the townsfolk and to be fair in our dealings.

As a young adult I moved from the wide open spaces of the Eastern Cape interior, to Bloemfontein, then on to Pretoria, and a stint in Europe – I admit to a Bohemian streak and a willingness to push boundaries! Marriage was followed by a move to Giyani in Mpumalanga and then Grahamstown. The early years of marriage were tough as Charles, a first-generation immigrant and doctor, worked long hours in state hospitals while I tended three little boys born in quick succession.

Following a son’s remarkable recovery after a life-threatening accident, Charles and I opened the Integrative Health Centre in Port Elizabeth in 2001.

The boys are now young men making their way in the world and I’m proud of them. Parenting is, to my mind, the toughest and biggest responsibility all procreating adults face and I know we made many mistakes along the way. It is also a journey I would not exchange for anything else in the world.

As I start the third trimester of my life, I’m excited to be doing what I love and look forward to meeting you along the way.

Professional life

I believe I have two gifts. The first is a deep understanding of how adults learn. At heart I am a teacher. Over the past three decades I have been involved in tertiary education at three different universities and have facilitated personal mastery and leadership workshops for many a big business. In 2012 I established the Open Learning Community offering various courses in the interest of the community. 

The second is seeing embedded relationships and the dynamics at play in and between groups of people and trans-generationally. I can think on my feet in tough situations, be multi-partial and help people unpack solutions that are in the interest of all concerned. For the greater good

Looking back on a varied professional life, the key experiences that have shaped the person I am today are:

Lecturing at the University of Venda (now the University of Limpopo). It was the last years of apartheid and this campus in the north of SA was very volatile, often with mass demonstrations that could be quite intimidating to staff. My key function was to teach second year students interviewing skills. My challenge was for them to become as confident in one-on-one interviews as when collectively protesting. I oversaw their practicums: picture my students and I doing home visits in rural Venda with me driving the Hi-Ace bus! This gave me a peek into a world we urbanites tend to forget or ignore.

Teaching John Fowler’s ‘Stages of Faith Development’ to theology students at Rhodes University, Grahamstown in the nineties. I never anticipated teaching in a divinity department but nothing happens by chance. Those five years greatly influenced my world view and I became an avid student of the world’s main religions and humanity’s quest for a meaningful relationship with our Creator.

TS Elliot wrote that ‘the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’ I have a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in the Social Sciences but then life took me in a different direction. Twenty years later I chanced upon family constellations and immediately recognized my fit with this way of working. Since then, I have attended training workshops with Stephan Hausner from Germany, Dr Jane Peterson and Francesca Mason Boring from the USA, and Tanja Meyburgh from South Africa. I attended the International Systemic Constellations Association (ISCA) week-long constellations intensive in Bernried, Bavaria. I am a member of ISCA and the Systemic Constellations Association of South Africa (SCASA).

The past 20 years has been quite a dance as I moved between ivory tower and industry, giving me insight into the rigour of industry and its demand for profit while also becoming more conscious of the needs of stakeholders and the environment. My work in leadership development has taken me to Vietnam, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Namibia and Rajasthan in India. This has allowed me to engage with cultures and religions very different to my own. I am immensely grateful for this experience.

ISCA & SCASA Registration

Jean is a member of the International Systemic Constellations Ass (ISCA) and is registered as a constellator with the Systemic Constellations Association of South Africa (SCASA)