About Family Constellations > Family Constellations Explained
Family Constellations Explained
A unique way of exploring and healing family dynamics.
The purpose of Family Constellations is to uncover the hidden dynamics of your family or relationship in an experiential way, so that existing energy can be observed and changed where necessary and undue stress released or reduced in the system. This is a gentle and sensitive method of allowing family or relationship energy to reveal itself through representatives, so that a resolution can unfold. This involves allowing each member of the system to find their rightful place in the group which involves a healthy and respectful connection to each other, hence allowing the natural flow of love in the system.
When is the Family Constellation process appropriate?
This process is most effective in issues that appear to be systemic in nature. If you have already tried therapy but still have your issue it could be that the issue is systemic, a pattern or entanglement coming from your family of origin, therefore therapies that do not take a systemic approach may be missing the mark.
Counselling and Psychotherapy do indeed have value in helping sort out problems and in helping us find meaning and purpose in life and resolving personal issues. However, for those of you who have already been down the counselling path, who still have unresolved issues, or for those of you that don’t want to expose your most intimate feelings and thoughts in therapy, then perhaps you should consider Family Constellations workshops or private sessions.
Working on many levels for deep healing.
The Family Constellation process works on many levels simultaneously, going much deeper than counselling or hypnotherapy. According to Hellinger the energy that we are dealing with here primarily is Soul energy.
Intellectually- your hypothesis of your issue may be different to what the constellation shows.
Physically- in seeing the situation in real terms through the representatives.
Emotionally- through the feelings of the representatives and yourself.
Soul- the natural inclinations and movements of the soul.
Visual in seeing the spatial arrangements and movements.
Unconscious patterns being seen and felt
Bodily sensations and shifts.
Personal spirit and family or ancestral soul movements.
A Phenomenological Approach.
Family Constellations is a phenomenological approach for the twenty first century.
Existential therapy refers to a phenomenological approach as a way of working that requires the therapist to put aside assumptions, theories or agenda in the interests of allowing the client to explore their their reality and allow the situation to show itself. This may provide useful information from which a person may make sense of their situation.
Likewise in Family Constellations a therapist or facilitator is required to take a phenomenological approach of putting aside an agenda, previous knowledge or assumptions in order to follow the field set up in the constellation with representatives so as to allow it to unfold and reveal what is necessary for the client and their presenting issue.
Who is Bert Hellinger?
Bert Hellinger, a German psychotherapist and former priest developed this method from the mid 1990’s while working with families as a family therapist.
Family Constellations is a dynamic therapy that continues to evolve, as is evident if you look at Hellinger’s earlier and his more recent work. However, the basic principles of the work remain the same. Bert Hellinger is now in his eighties and is still practicing and teaching this therapy world wide. Since the launch of his first book, “Acknowledging What is,” more than twenty years ago, Hellinger has been training practitioners and continuing to work with the public. His unique method of working with the energy in family systems has spread throughout Europe, America and Asia and more recently Australia.
There is a Natural Order.
According to Hellinger, family systems are composed of energy that connects members of a group. Primitive groups are well aware of the order in their system in a way that most modern societies and families have forgotten, which helps to provide health and resilience to all of its members and the group as a whole. In addition, each of the members of a group, have an equal right to belong to the system in their natural order. The purpose of the therapy process is to recognize and energetically reinstate those members who have been excluded for some reason and restore the natural order, hence allowing love to flow more easily and giving you a healthy place.
Family Constellations quickly allows loyalties and entanglements called Blind love to come to light, so that the path to a more enlightened, unconditional mature love may start to grow. This becomes the foundation for better self esteem, relationships and success in life.
How energy flows and the Knowing Field.
Energy is an integral part of the universe, our solar system, atoms, electrons that make up all objects, living and supposedly non living bodies, including the cells of the animal kingdom and the human race. Quantum physics and Einstein has shown that there is a constant interchange of matter and energy, according to E= mc2.
Energy is operating in many spheres of ourselves and our environment constantly, so much so that we are often unaware of its existence.
The energy field.
The energy fields between magnets, around electrical wires and also the field of the earth and the solar systems and galaxies are readily shown and accepted examples of the presence of energy fields.
The yogis and spiritual masters of the world from many ancient races have long been aware of energy as the life spring from which everything flows. This may be seen in many different cultures.
The energy centers in the human body located from the base of the spine to the crown of the head are called Chakras.
Acupuncture points and meridians.
The meridians connect each part of the body to Qui (Chi) currents or fields.
Spiritual, wellbeing and health practices utilizing energy fields.
Many practices such as yoga, Qui Gong and Feng Shui have been developed to enhance the flow of healthy energy by ancient civilizations have enjoyed a revival in the present time due to their proven effectiveness in the present.
The Knowing Field in Family Constellations.
Family Constellations is a process that utilizes existing energy fields and in particular the energy fields of situations and relationships showing the underlying dynamics that are operating.
The field that is created when a constellation is started is called "the knowing field" or technically an endomorphic field with the positive intention of looking at an issue for a client. This is now also being investigated by environmental scientists such as William Sheldrake and is referred to as the Knowing field by those involved in Family Constellations.
It has been found that when representatives of an issue are placed spatially in a room in relationship to each other in a constellation, then a field forms within and around the representatives, that is readily felt by the representatives and the facilitator alike and becomes a guiding force for unfolding the issue and also revealing possible solutions.
We are all connected
Through the Knowing field in a Family Constellation, the connection of each member of the system is felt and with that, their natural healthy order. Bert Hellinger the originator of Family Constellations, revealed to the public at large through Family Constellations that there is a Natural Order within family systems and also within generations, that if acknowledged, allows love to flow in a healthy way to all concerned. This basic "Knowing" is generally accepted in tribal systems and cultures that are still in touch with their tribal roots that has often been lost in modern cultures and involves a deep knowing of natural order, that ensures a place for each member of the group, that results in health and survival for the system.
How it works
It has been found that changes within oneself may often result in unexpected changes around us. This may be due to changes in the connecting field of which we are involved and/or unconscious shifts due to starting an impulse in the personal and family soul that is set in motion by the Family Constellation process.
It is a very common occurrence that fellow family members often feel the effects of a Family Constellation even though they are not aware of a family member doing this process. For this reason you don't have to bring the family together in order to do a constellation for yourself. Any shifts in you often result in changes in the family energy and the next time you meet someone from the family, you may observe changes in the connection.
However, Family Constellations must always be done with the positive intention of finding resolution for yourself and not with the motivation of changing anyone else.
Who are family members?
These are the people that are linked to you genetically or by sexual relationships such as marriage or sexual partners. This will include your parents and their siblings, your grandparents and their siblings, your own siblings, your children and your sexual partners. This means that relatives such as your parents’ brothers and sisters, your aunts and uncles, are significant family members. Also, as dead members of the family often leave a strong influence on the family, they also are considered a part of the family and may be included if necessary in a family constellation. Step families and blended or fostered and adopted families areas where Family Constellations can be very beneficial in helping you find your healthy place.
Family Constellations is at the cutting edge while also including the wisdom of the past.
Tribal and ancient communities have a very rich and complex set of family and social rights and rituals that help to keep them rooted in the natural order of things. They are very well aware of the hierarchy of families and the need for each person to have their rightful place in the system. In addition, there are many rituals to mark “rights of passage” for many stages of human experiences, such as fertility, childbirth, puberty, marriage, death, men’s roles and women’s roles. Hellinger’s Family Constellations brings us back to this basic “knowing” of natural order in family systems, that we in the modern west seem to have lost or forgotten. In Family Constellations the dead are treated with equal importance to the living, as they have an equal right to be acknowledged in the system, as they live on in us and continue to have an effect in our families.
We are connected in more ways than one.
The Family Constellation view, is that each person has soul or life force energy and is also part of the collective soul or life force energy of the family group.
This means that each member within a family group has an effect on the other members in the group, via the genetic trail or soul energy by which we are linked. This means that the newer members can be greatly affected by what has gone before them in previous generations. Some event or situation may have taken place several generations before your birth, that was perhaps not accepted or acknowledged by the family in general. This will usually manifest as guilt or shame by the “greater soul” or life force of the family group and taken on by individuals in later generations. This is done in an unconscious attempt to relieve the burden from the rest of the family and may result in such things as a range of mental and, physical illnesses, suicide, or addiction or disturbed relationships patterns.
Consider all of the drops of water in a pond as individual souls in a family network. When a ripple flows through the pond it flows through to each drop.
In a family system, if all of the members are acknowledged in their rightful place and take full responsibility for their decisions and actions in life, then love will be able to flow freely throughout the system and the later generations will feel loved and connected and free.
Examples of Family Constellations
Mary has come to a Family Constellation workshop saying that she is finding it difficult to attract an appropriate partner into her life. She is thirty five and says that she keeps attracting addictive partners into her life. Her mother divorced her father when she was eight years old because of his binge drinking. A constellation is set up with representatives from the workshop of Mary and her mother and father. They are placed in the room by Mary and she sits back to observe. Within a few minutes, even though the representatives know very little of Mary and her family, they start to notice feelings in their body. A constellation energy field is forming of her family in the room. Her mother feels both angry and sad and is glaring at her husband. Mary’s father is looking at the ground. Mary’s representative is not able to look at either of her parents and feels a lot of anger towards her mother and disgust for her father. As the facilitator, I asked for further information. Mary’s mother’s father was injured in the Vietnamese war and came back to the family as a crippled man with mental health problems. A representative for Mary’s grandfather (mothers’ father) is bought into the constellation and some healing sentences given to help her mother and her injured father to accept what had happened to their family due to the war. Mary’s mother falls into her fathers arms and weeps for a short time. She then stands with her father behind her, looking much stronger and softer at Mary’s representative. Further information of Mary’s father comes up. His mother died when he was a child. A representative for Mary’s father’s mother is bought in. After some words are said between them and some emotions released and he is feeling at peace with his mother, he is able to take his place by his ex wife in front of Mary with some renewed dignity. Mary herself is now asked to take her place in the constellation instead of her representative. She is visibly moved when her mother tells her that its OK for her to love her father. Mary said that for the first time she felt her mothers’ strength and also her fathers’ and was able to bow to both of them with respect, leaving their destiny and their decisions with them. The constellation ends here.
Mary’s constellations took place in June 2006. She contacted me a few months later to tell me how different she was feeling and how much easier it is to have a relationship with each of her parents now. She also has a new partner in her life and is very happy and excited organizing her wedding. Mary’s story is typical of constellations work.
Difficult parent/child relationship
This is the family constellation of a woman who was unable to have a good relationship with her daughter. The facilitator asked a few factual questions about the family history and then set up the constellation with representatives. The woman also had a difficult relationship with her own mother. Representatives of the woman, her daughter and her mother were set up. The feelings and physical positioning of the representatives were noted.
The woman is loving but can’t make contact with her daughter, who is angry with her. The woman is then turned to face her own mother. It is clear that she doesn’t respect or accept her mother. Some time is spent here in allowing things to be put back into their rightful place until the woman and her mother are in contact and feeling comfortable. Now the woman is turned to face her daughter. The daughter has become interested in coming to a resolution with her now. The constellation finishes with the family system feeling relaxed and comfortable.
If you have a difficult relationship with your parents, then it may be difficult for you to have a good relationship with your own children. There is a block in the flow of love.
When a relationship breaks down.
This is a family constellation of a divorced woman who was experiencing difficulties in her subsequent intimate relationship. A constellation was set up with representatives of the woman, her ex-husband and her current partner.
The woman’s ex-husband is feeling very sad and hurt. She can’t look him and says that she feels anger towards him. In seeking a resolution, it’s discovered that the woman is finding it hard to accept responsibility for her part in what went wrong between them. Once an appropriate resolution is found and accepted, the couple is able to let each other go. This frees the woman to focus on her present relationship.
A relationship that has broken down needs to be resolved before you can successfully go into the next one. Many of us know this intellectually but it is often difficult to do this fully for ourselves.
An unresolved parent child relationship.
This is a family constellation of a man who had a difficult and unresolved relationship with his mother. His mother died when the man was seventeen leaving him feeling bitter and angry.
A constellation of the man and his mother is set up. The man’s mother reports feeling cut off and unable to focus on her son. The son reports feeling sad. Gradually the mother turns from the son. She feels pulled from behind.
The man’s mother is turned around to look at her father. She experiences great emotion here, first anger, then sadness and then abandonment. Her own father had died when he was a child. She had very much missed her father. Once the situation is acknowledged and the mother is reunited with her father she is able to turn around with her own father behind her to give her strength and make a connection with her son. The constellation is over when the mother is honored and respected by her son and she is able to wish her son a fulfilling life. The son is feeling connected to his mother.
Family Constellations is not Psychodrama.
Psychodrama often replays events or situations in a person’s life using representatives to play each role. Family constellations does not look at particular events in a life to replay them, it simply looks at the energy in each of the representatives with no sense of drama and very little information of the issue or the lives of the people concerned. In fact the person with the issue often sits out so that they can observe the process, but also because their involvement could influence the true flow of the constellation. Constellations are meant to be done objectively and are not meant to be driven by the emotional content of someone needing to vent pent up emotions or replay a situation. A Family Constellation will help you to find a new perspective on your issue and may point to a possible solution.
The constellations usually take place in a one or two-day workshops, with a group of people all undergoing the same process or private sessions. In the workshop you may choose others to represent the people in your issue and are likely to be picked in return to represent in other group members constellations.
The group is contracted to confidentiality and respect for all members. This therapy is relatively quick and efficient helping people to resolve many issues in one constellation. Deeper issues may require more constellations in workshops or private sessions.
This is a small commitment of time and money to resolve an issue that can bring great change into your life. Doing my family constellation has bought me closeness, understanding, love and respect for the people closest to me in my life.
What more could I ask for?
Some Metaphors on Family Constellations
a) Carrying Your Own Bundle
A wise old Indian chief was talking to his students about responsibility and family life. He said that an ancestral line is like a river flowing from its source at a mountain spring. Initially bubbling out fresh and pure water over boulders and waterfalls and becoming more turbulent as it flows. Then travelling down the slope, it is joined by new bodies of water due to rain and streams joining it further down the river, becoming murkier and cloudier as the water followed the path of the river to the sea. Then one day, the Spirit Gods decided that the water was getting too muddy and it was spoiling the clarity of the river as a whole. He told each body of water to take back its own turbulence of pebbles and sand and to make its own whirlpool to push all of the rubbish to the river bed, leaving only pure, fresh, life-giving water to flow forward. The river immediately divided into many whirlpools all down its length. Eventually, once clarity was restored, the whirlpools stopped and peace flowed in the river with new life and vigor and vibrancy. Now when you see a whirl pool in a river you know that one of the bodies of the river is depositing what it doesn’t want to carry any more.
Family Constellations is like a whirlpool clearing out all that has been decomposing…so that the water is fresh and clear again.
b) Standing in the Light
There was a beautiful woman in her prime. She had a beautiful body and face, long silky hair and a very sweet nature. However if you put on these special glasses that allow you to see beyond normal vision, you can see that she has three large lumps on her body that are preventing her from achieving her dreams. If you look really carefully with your special glasses, you can see each lump attached to a strand. One linking to her mother, one to her father and one to an ancestor that had a tragic life. One day when the beautiful woman was walking through a forest, she came upon a clearing where the sunlight was streaming through it to the ground with an intensity that was unusually vibrant. She stepped into the light, basking in its beautiful cleansing quality. She looked down at her body and for the first time noticed the three large lumps and wandered how they got there. She asked out loud, “how did they get there?” As if by magic her father suddenly appeared before her, saying. “It is mine, I now feel ready to hold it for myself” As it moved over towards him, it disappeared as it merged into his body. He suddenly stood up, looking stronger and straighter looking at his daughter a with great love that she had never seen before. Next, her mother appeared and then her great aunt, both also now willingly to taking back their own lumps. They also stood up with renewed strength and pride, glowing with love for her. In a few more moments the sun moved behind a tree and the light along with her family members faded. A little dazed, the woman continued on her walk noticing that she was feeling stronger and vibrant with a warm inner glow and lightness that she had never experienced before. She also noticed an inner knowing and excitement that she would now be able to follow her dreams.
Family constellations is like a magic light that allows you to dissolve unhealthy attachments for a clearer brighter present and future.
There was a very beautiful coral fish called Rainbow living in a coral reef in the tropics. The sea was clear and warm and full of delicious things to eat. Rainbow had everything that she could wish for, but some how she didn’t feel that she could enjoy or appreciate it fully. All of her young life she has been aware of feeling heavy, clumsy and slow. She never seemed to be at the right place or time to have fun with the other fish, or attract a good mate. In addition, everything looked a little gray through her eyes. One day as she was floating around in a quiet part of the reef, she came across a big wise old coral fish called Angela sitting on a large piece of coral. They got talking and soon Rainbow was feeling very comfortable with Angela and told her about how heavy and slow she felt. Angelina was a bit of a wizard and had developed extraordinary eyesight and perception. As she looked at Rainbow she noticed that she was carrying a large bundle on her back. She saw that the bundle belonged to her mother.
Angelina said “Why don’t you let your mother carry her own bundle?”
Rainbow replied “Mum is so tired, she has so many children, I wanted to help her out”
“In holding this for her you are carrying a bit of her life force, which weakens her further. If you let her carry it for herself she will feel stronger.” Angelina replied.
“ Do you mean that I’m not helping her at all by carrying it?” Said Rainbow
“No, Mums are made to do what they do, you will be able to do it too when its your time.” Said Angelina.
After thanking Angelina, Rainbow went to find her Mother and offered to give back the bundle that she was carrying for her. Mum gladly took it back and looked much stronger almost straight away as she did so. Also, Rainbow suddenly noticed how energized and light she felt and how everything in the reef looked brighter. She was also aware of a very good-looking male fish was looking at her with interest. Rainbow knew that life would be different from now on.
Family Constellations allows you to feel the baggage that you are carrying for others and let it go back to the rightful owners, giving you freedom and lightness in your life.
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I’ve had some great results from having my own constellation.
Lifelong issues are no longer affecting me, and I’m attracting good things into my life now instead of more problems and difficulties. It’s been amazing, with virtually instant results after only 1 session. Leaves long drawn-out therapy for dead. I am very grateful to Yildiz. She is an intuitive, gentle, genuine and caring person. Many, many thanks.
Margo Courtney, Sydney
All that matters is :
How well did you live.... How well did you love.... How well did you learn
to let go?