Family Constellations Overview
Family and Systems Constellations is a therapeutic method developed by Bert Hellinger, German psychotherapist, author, and teacher. Hellinger also worked as a missionary in Kwazulu Natal for 16 years, and is currently in his 80’s. Hellinger uncovered what he has called the “Orders of Love”, (natural laws, which assist the flow of love within a family system).
Using family constellations, the problematic dynamics that operate in families can become visible. This work emerged out of psychotherapy, family therapy, group therapy, systems theory and phenomenology. Hellinger was pivotal in bringing these strands together in the development of this technique. Constellations have also been used in education, health care, prisons and other social services.
When the person is “entangled” in their system, they may experience a range of physical, emotional and mental difficulties and struggle to engage with life and their current context in their full strength.
Families and individuals can address issues such as marriage and relationship difficulties, physical and mental illness, addiction, adoption, grief, employment and finances. Organizations can use this process for coaching team members or to focus on restructuring, communication, decision-making, and strategic issues. Constellations may also reveal a new perspective on issues related to inheritance, family businesses, war, crimes and race. Constellations have also been applied to community settings, reconciliation, and environmental and political themes.
Family Constellations is a subset application of Systemic Constellations and is an experiential process that aims to release and resolve profound tensions within and between people. It is a powerful yet simple approach to heal the relationship to our family members and partners – and come in a deep harmony with life. It is also for individuals and couples interested in resolving life issues and looking to find a solid foundation for new direction in their lives.
Family Constellations Therapy has become increasingly recognised as an astounding, powerful and far-reaching approach to finding lasting resolutions in cases which before had seemed beyond reach. It brings to light our deep interconnectedness with family and community and leads to a deep experiential understanding of primordial love at the heart of all kinds of mental, psychosomatic and bodily suffering. Once that love is freed from unconscious entanglements dating back one, two or even three generations into our ancestors, it becomes a force for profound healing.
Family Constellations address patterns and entanglements that develop trans-generationally in relationships between family members, the ancestors and all those that are connected to this system.
What do Family Constellations address?
Family Constellation Therapy reveals the hidden dynamics in family systems. They create a living model of the family that discloses the deeper forces that unknowingly influence our thoughts, behaviors and emotional experiences. Constellations can provide healing for self, family and ancestors.
Family Constellations can enable clients to:
- Resolve misunderstandings, entanglements and blocks in family-, partner- and other relationships
- Break cycles of disconnection, alienation, abuse, dysfunction and poverty
- Address parenting problems and painful family situations (i.e. divorce, single parenthood, miscarriage, infertility, abortion, adoption/custody)
- Deal positively with severe illness and death
- Uncover reasons for physical and emotional suffering and take steps towards healing (i.e. migraine, asthma, eating disorders, chronic backache, depression, anxieties and phobias, suicidal tendencies, drug and alcohol abuse)
- Understand the “bigger picture” of any life situation
- Gain insight into professional conflicts
- Understand how familial patterns may affect our relationships
- Receive the love of our parents and ancestors
- Being fully present to our resources and strengths
Family Constellations can also help clients with:
- Unexplained anxiety and depression
- A sense of deep sadness that is not associated with actual life events
- Unresolved physical issues
- Missing sense of connection and purpose
- Resistance to a difficult fate
Constellations often disclose the deeper elements and dynamics behind suffering that result from tragedy, neglect, abuse, disappointment, estrangement and violence.
Family dynamics is defined by how members of a family relate to one another. However, on closer inspection, we see that how members of a family relate to one another is determined by past events, even those events that may have affected family members / ancestors a few generations previously, sometimes several generations.
In times gone by, the typical family was made up of mother, father and children. This is still true today, however, the structure of families has changed rapidly over the past few decades with increasing numbers of single parent families that are made up of two separate families coming together as a result of divorced parents marrying a new partner.
This in itself brings many challenges and problems for both the parents and children living in such new family structures.
Belonging and the orders of love
As humans, our sense of belonging is very precious to us and at the core of belonging is the family. Just like other mammal species, there is a natural hierarchy that exists within the human family structure and as humans we feel most comfortable when we are in the right place within the family hierarchy.
Within family structures there exist the natural orders of love. This is an unspoken order, but it is felt very keenly nonetheless. The natural orders of love pass from grandparents to parents and from parents to children, each generation receiving from the generation preceding and so on and so forth. Interruptions to these orders of love have consequences – often grave consequences that can lead to disruptive life patterns, mental and emotional illness, plus physical symptoms.
At its most basic, there is a difference in family dynamics between the first child and subsequent children. The first child is born into a “couple relationship”, the second and subsequent children are born into a “family structure”. However, this is simply a statement of what is and does not imply better or worse situations for children born into a family at different periods of family growth.
Consequences arrive when it is not clear to whom or where in the family system a child belongs.
Our ancestors and acknowledging what is
We not only have access to, but also are influenced by all that has occurred within our family, not only directly, but also indirectly through our parents, grandparents and great grandparents and for many more generations of ancestors spanning centuries – and this we pass onto our children (The sins of the fathers).
However it is not only tragedies that are passed on, but also triumphs, the learning, the knowledge and the celebrations of love and life. We can bring positive influence that will have an effect on our children and on the souls of our ancestors.
Traditional forms of therapy are perception based, in other words, we go to a therapist with the story of our family. As all therapists will tell you – interview four siblings from the same family and one might conclude that they are speaking of totally different parents.
Many forms of therapy rely on objective reality as a starting point or as the entire focus of therapy and solution finding, which often only has the effect of strengthening the convictions of our own perceptions. For the most part, objective reality is not taken into consideration when entering the healing process.
Rather an emphasis is placed on acknowledging what is, accepting what is, and loving what is. This posture effects rapid healing and requires of us to overcome one fundamental question:
“Do we want peace, or do we want to be right?”
Quantum physics and metaphysics are telling us that objective reality does not exist, but it is the perceiver that creates their own experience of reality. Rather, we are asked to ask ourselves what is really true. More often than not, we are unable to prove to anyone else but ourselves that our objective reality is absolute truth. When we enter the arena of Soul healing, we are asked to suspend objective reality, acknowledge and submit to what is, and to embrace destiny.
A Family Constellation Session
How does a session work?
A Family Constellation can be done in a one-on-one basis or in a group workshop. One-on-one or individual family constellations are done in counseling and coaching settings using genograms, floor markers or figurines.
In a group constellation, workshop people representing family members or elements of any system are placed in relationship to each other, making a 3D image of the system available to the facilitator. From this set up, the facilitator and client can develop potential solutions to provide effective intervention in the system. Those who have facilitated the work, as well as those who have experienced it, find both the effect and the process difficult to explain. The outcome of the work is: a greater ability for love to flow between family members, regardless of the family “story”. In the case of Organizations, a greater flow of acknowledgment, productivity and/or profit is observed.
With the constellation, patterns that run over many generations can be revealed, and resources that strengthen the person become evident within the wider family system. During the family constellation, the body, mind and heart of the person can be engaged so that the healing is not merely an intellectual insight, but an experience that can draw on various sources for resources and solutions.
Constellations are an exploration of the soul, energy and love that exists for each family system. Constellations can break familial patterns, transform couple relationships and alter child-parent dynamics. They can provide deep healing for self, family and ancestors.
To book a Family Constellations session with Karin, email her or call her on 027 315 3118.
“Children seldom or never dare to live a happier or more fulfilling life than their parents. Unconsciously they remain loyal to unspoken family traditions that work invisibly. Family Constellations are a way of discovering underlying family bonds and forces that have been carried unconsciously over several generations.”