Systemic Family Constellations
Increase the Flows of Love in the Family System
What Are Family Constellations?
Family Constellations uncover the hidden dynamics in your family system. Constellations show us existing dynamics and stresses in the system so that we can release them. Representatives gently reveal hidden structure, unfolding a natural resolution, increasing the natural flow of love in the system.
"So, to explain a constellation just a little, all people carry with them an energetic field or blueprint of their biological families—this field has been called by some a family soul, or family conscience. That field has an enormous unconscious effect on each family members life and all the people they interact with. Long standing problems with health, depression, relationships, failed finances, etc. are usually a result of unconscious ‘entanglements’ in the family soul.
Doing a constellation is a way to bring those entanglements to light, and to allow for some resolution to happen. Quite often after a constellation, other members of the family who were not present for the constellation—and didn’t even know it was happening–report dramatic shifts as a result. Because the family is a system—like an energetic mobile, what affects one, affects all. And what keeps one stuck, affects them all…"
-- Bert Hellinger, discoverer and founder of Systemic Constellations
Constellations work best on systemic issues. A systemic issue originates in the system, not in the individual. This is not the way that we normally view problems that show up in our lives!
How do Systemic Family Constellations work?
Systemic and Family Constellations reveal hidden dynamics of relationships within a system. They are the life’s work of Bert Hellinger, German psychotherapist, who has facilitated constellations for several decades. Constellations aim at increasing the flow of love in a family.
One constellation professional says:
[The client] recounts what he believes to be true, the story he has told many times before.
The constellator tunes into the client's energy and listens with her heart and her experience. She may ask questions to clarify the central issue. She suggests which members of the client's family should be represented and [the client] chooses participants to represent his family members.
[The client] now sets his hands gently on each representative's shoulders, one by one, and places the representatives in space and in direction as if he were setting positions for actors on stage. He does not mold their bodies into postures.
An energy field comes into being, and almost immediately the representatives report feelings and emotions or a wish to move in a particular direction or perhaps to lie down. Gradually a drama unfolds and reveals the deep, underlying structure of the client's issue."
paraphrased from Joy Mannés book Conceptual Constellations: Constellation Story and Archetype.
They are an exciting and effective modality that is adjunctive to traditional counseling. They address the systemic components of issues and problems that show up in a system and are especially good at looking at transgenerational issues. The reason that other therapies may not be effective on a particular problem is that a problem may be systemic in nature, arising from pressures exerted by many parts of the system and not localized to any one person. Constellations look at the system as a whole to find these pressures and dysfunctions.
What Does a Constellation Session Look Like?
We gather as a group with the intention to be in service to our families and to the families of those gathered. One person presents an issue to the facilitator who asks some simple questions about the family of origin: were there any big events in the family? Did anyone die in an unusual way or suffer a heavy fate? Were any children stillborn? Often the issue that the client is bringing stems from what is known as an ‘entanglement’, the intertwining of a person with the fate of an ancestor, even when we don’t know them or their stories. The family ‘soul’ wants everyone to be included, especially the forgotten, excluded, and marginalized. Sometimes the entanglement is the way of being remembered.
What Workshop Participants Say
"I have not had anymore nightmares about my parents and I used to have them every night." - workshop participant, Spring 2016
"I feel lighter and less burdened." - workshop participant, Spring 2016
"Would do it again and recommend it." - workshop participant, November 2015
"Phenomenal! A very new and different healing modality." - workshop participant, November 2015
"Transformational." - workshop participant, November 2015
The facilitator asks the client to choose group members to represent family members, one at a time. They gently guide the representative into the working space and place them in the layout that matches their inner knowing. The facilitator asks the representatives to follow the sensations that arise in their bodies. If they feel the need to move, then the representative moves into a new position in relationship with the others. Constellation language is visual: we observe these movements and listen to what representatives are experiencing to bring new understanding to what is happening in the system.
When placed in a constellation, representatives often accurately report information about the family’s system. A skilled facilitator adds representatives for other family members or for concepts in order to localize the beginning of the dysfunction to bring clarity and resolution to the presenting issue. For instance, representatives for ‘Life’, ‘Love’, or ‘Death’ and even ‘Fate’ may be introduced to help clarify the issue and its effects on the family system. Participants in constellations often find immediate relief, although gradual lessening of family issues is also a norm.
Benefits of Family Constellation
Constellations work is exciting and effective. It is well-established and popular in Europe and also on each continent. It is powerful and effective at illuminating a situation and providing a workable systemic solution.
Most people resolve their issue quickly using Family Constellations or using a combination of therapy and constellation work. It is a relatively quick, easy and cost effective method. You don’t need the other person(s) in your issue to be present - you may choose either a private one-to-one, or a group session. For many this is a profound life changing experience.
Relationships are perhaps the most important aspect of your life in terms of providing you with warmth and contentment and peace of mind. Your relationships in business, in your personal life and in your family, affect all aspects of your life, including the way you relate to problems. One study has shown that merely thinking of your ancestors, your family system, increases intellect and confidence.
Notable Aspects of Family Constellations
* Most people resolve their issue in just one or a few sessions. It is quick and very cost effective
* You don’t need the other person(s) in your issue to be present
* We don’t need to know what happened in your issue – just some bare facts about the family and fates of family members
* The resolution often appears to ripple out and effects the other people in your issue, even though they didn’t attend
* It is a gentle, sensitive, effective process
* Constellation work goes hand-in-hand with traditional counseling, although it also stands on its own
* This work is often referred to as “Movements of the Soul”
* It is the ultimate in personal development in promoting connection and more contentment.
Applications of Constellations within Other Systems
Constellations, also known as Family and Systemic Constellation Work, also has applications for business, as businesses are also systems which endure systemic pressures. Business constellations can be used to test new products on subsets of consumer markets, branding, pricing, and many other facets. Systemic and Family Constellation work is extremely effective and increasingly popular worldwide, and most of the extent literature has been written in other languages. It is only now being translated into English, and as a result, constellations are now beginning to gain a strong following in the US. Find out what it can do for you and your family or business!
Here's a fantastic article about family constellations from the FamilyConstellations web site in Australia.