Family Constellation Therapy
The History of Family Constellations
Bert Hellinger, a German Psychotherapist, founded Family Constellations.He began his research on this modality in 1978 when he discovered what he referred to as “The Orders of Love”, which are the fundamental orders of life and form the basis of this work.
The family unit is the basis for every human life, and we must recognize that no matter where we live and work, we are always in relationships with others. To live a fulfilling life, we must take our correct in place in our family system. Hellinger demonstrated through his work that it is never too late to do this, and that he maintained that “The greater soul moves in only one direction, and that is to bring into union that which has been made separate.”
Family Constellations can benefit families experiencing conflict of all kinds, couples who want to deepen intimacy, and be good parents and role models for their children, children with difficulties at school both socially and academically, for understanding chronic diseases and their symptoms, and in professional areas where there are issues with conflict or leadership.
How Family Constellations Therapy Works
Often, we inherit beliefs from our ancestors which, when kept hidden in our subconscious, can prevent us from moving forward in our lives. These beliefs were created in the past, and out of “blind love” or loyalty, we carry them and keep ourselves stuck. Once revealed, these beliefs can be questioned, released and replaced so that we have a new perspective and move in a new direction.
Using a three-dimensional process group, a facilitator holds the space for participants as they represent or “stand in for” members of the client’s system, to bring issues into view.
Once set up, the facilitator and the client observe as the representatives move, relate and express any longings, in doing so uncovering any hidden elements such as illness, addiction, failure, aggression, unresolved trauma, murder, suicide, adultery, secrets and so forth.
The facilitator then assists the restoration of the orders of love by reorganizing the representatives according to these laws, and by prompting the representatives to speak aloud the appropriate healing sentences, which serve to create forward movement in the soul of the family system. An example of this would be a child who has assumed the role of parent, bowing in acknowledgement that the parent came before him or her and gave them life.
This modality is also very effective in one-one sessions with me, where I use floor mats, small cut outs or figures to represent family members in place of live representatives.
Leaning into the discomfort of getting it wrong for another person requires courage and ultimately, vulnerability. Letting down the guards that keep us safe pave the way for deeper intimacy.
It’s OK to not have all the knowledge; all the answers, and instead learn to ask the right questions.
What could improve in your relationships if you replaced knowing and thinking you are right with curiosity and genuine listening to your partner, parent, child or friend?
Gestalt Therapy is a form of psychotherapy which supports the client to maintain their focus on the here and now, or present moment.
Artistic talent is absolutely unnecessary for this process, and often the very act of creating something tangible, in the absence of pressure to excel, can be very healing in and of itself.