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A Constellation is an intervention developed in Germany by Bert Hellinger, a former priest and missionary to the Zulu in South Africa for 16 years, as well as an educator, psychoanalyst, group dynamic expert and family therapist, he brings vast and diverse experience to his work. The method is widely used in Europe and gaining recognition in the USA. Constellations are done at workshops facilitated by mental health and other practitioners trained in the method. The objective is to address psychic pain, discomfort, and tension within and among people, family, and organizations. Constellation workshops are done for personal, professional, and organizational problems.
The most well known scientist whose ideas help our left brains understand the Systemic Constellation phenomenology and its relevance is Rupert Sheldrake. Sheldrake is one of today’s most innovative biologists, best known for his theory of morphic fields and morphic resonance. He proposes that memory is inherent in nature and that species have ways of passing information on from one generation to the next through morphic resonance (www.sheldrake.org).
In short, constellations allow us to break destructive family patterns. They give us a deeper understanding as to why we feel the way we feel. First, we gain a felt sense of how we are still affected by the tragic events that remain unresolved in our families. Secondly, we literally step into a new image of feeling whole. After a constellation, we stand in a stronger and clearer place.
Family Constellations are offered and can be explored in workshops (group settings) or in individual sessions (in person or via Skype.)
The group format is powerful for everyone attending — the client, the representatives and those who witness the process.
At the beginning of the workshop, the facilitator sets the intention for the Phenomena to happen through performing a silent meditation, rituals or guided imagery that calls forth the ancestors of all those in the room. All participants of the workshop are sitting on chairs, making a circle. The facilitator is guided to choose a person, who is ready to work on something that they want to change, improve in the life. The facilitator asks the client few strategic questions about the issue and the client get to choose workshop participants to represent the family members or organizational entities (these can be parents, siblings, co-workers, even abstract elements like ‘work’, ‘money’ ‘illness’, etc.), and are placed by the client in the center of the circle according to the internal image or feeling that feels correct in relationship to one another. The client will also place a representative for him/herself. This reveals the starting image of what the client unconsciously knows (but not consciously!) about the situation in order to uncover the hidden dynamics behind it. Once the dynamics are seen, healing soul sentences of resolution are used to include what was excluded, to restore unconditional love in the family, experience it and offer to the client a new start on many levels. It can be a highly moving and spiritual experience that continues after the workshop has been completed.
Family Constellation individual sessions are equally effective in person or through Skype. For some clients, working one-to-one is preferred as it is a more private means to uncover what can be surprising revelations in a family’s hidden dynamics. One-to-one constellations can successfully make use of the clients’ internal imagery using foot prints, chairs, figurines, toys, pillows and other objects for representations of hidden family dynamics behind something that as a client you would like to shift in your life. Once the dynamics are seen, healing soul sentences of resolution are used to include what was excluded, to restore unconditional love in the family, experience it and offer to you a new start on many levels.
Simply sign up for a workshop and watch the process. During it you may be asked to serve as a representative. You may accept or decline the invitation. Research conducted by Albrecht Mahr in Germany suggests that workshop participants who serve as representatives or merely observe can benefit as much as those who “set up” their own families.
An individual wishing to work on an issue during a constellation chooses representatives for various members of his/her family from the circle of participants at the workshop. S/he positions the chosen representatives spatially in a way that feels right. In a short time the representatives begin to experience physical sensations, emotions or urges belonging not to themselves but to the family members they represent. It is as though they have become antennae, receiving information from a “family soul” that is mysteriously present in the room. By asking questions, making observations, suggesting trial statements and repositioning the representatives, the facilitator and client come to see the situation in a new way and create a resolution picture that can enable the client to break his/her identification with the ancestor’s difficult fate.
Representatives are not role playing. It is important that those persons serving as representatives get “out of their heads” and “into their bodies.” They just wait and notice how they feel. No training or previous experience is required; anyone can do it.
Very soon after being chosen and “set up” the representatives begin to experience physical sensations, emotions or urges belonging not to themselves but to the family members they represent. It is as though they have become antennae, receiving information from a “family soul” that is mysteriously present in the room.
Speculation about this phenomenon abounds. British biologist Rupert Sheldrake offers one explanation in what he calls a “morphogenetic field,” an organizing force that accounts for patterns of behavior in social groups such as schools of fish and flocks of birds. Constellation facilitators use “the knowing field,” a term coined by Dr. Albrecht Mahr, to describe this force as it applies to human families. Mahr calls the process by which individuals access information from the field “representative perception.” Bert Hellinger discovered how to use the knowing field both to uncover hidden dynamics and to modify them in ways that foster healing and a return to the natural order.
How can I be sure my privacy is respected?The registration process and facilitator‘s introduction make it clear that all information offered during a family constellation is confidential. Participants agree not to discuss anything they saw or observed once they leave the workshop.
No. The effects of the constellation often ripple out to them even though they didn’t attend or don’t know what you have done.
Anyone who struggles with illness, depression, anxiety, panic disorders, obsessive thoughts, fears, phobias, guilt, bi-polar disorder, persistent anger, lingering grief, meaninglessness, psychosomatic diseases, asthma, colitis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, IBS, reproductive health issues, failed relationships, financial difficulties, family violence, addictions, OCD, ADHD, ADD, PTSD, etc. could benefit from receiving a family constellation.