What are Family Constellations?

Family Constellations as a Healing Modality

Family Constellations is a method used to bring reveal entanglements within a family system, so that they can be acknowledged, in order to bring healing for the client.  Psychologists may refer to it as therapy.  As I am not a therapist I think of it as a method, modality or tool that I work with.

Up until I became aware of Family Constellations, the healing work that I had done on myself, and what I offered my clients, focused on the individual.  The beliefs, stories and trauma carried from this life and past lives affecting our wellbeing, sometimes included family members but were not viewed from a systemic viewpoint. This, I discovered, limited the scope of healing.   

Family Constellations takes the healing process into a broader context looking beyond the individual to their family system or group. It is a powerful method for revealing and releasing hidden entanglements. At times, invoking healing beyond the client to other members of the family system.

Bert Hellinger

Family Constellations was developed by Bert Hellinger in the 1980s. He was born in Germany.  After being ordained as Catholic Priest he spent 16 years working with the Zulu people, as a teacher and then headmaster.  He returned to Germany and left the priesthood.

After qualifying as a psychoanalyst in 1973, Hellinger drew on the work of several people and schools to develop Family Constellations. In the 1990s the work gained popularity as the benefits of this work was experienced by wider audiences.  Its also known as Systemic Constellations as the application expanded beyond families.  

Hellinger worked from a phenomenological, rather than a theoretical stance. From his observations of well over 1000 constellations, he developed the Orders of Love.

The Evolution of Systemic Constellations

The work has evolved over time, moving from focusing only on families to a far wider scope – inner parts, nature, karmic constellations. It is used in organisations, in schools and in some Latin American countries there is even Legal Constellations. The umbrella term used is Systemic Constellations.

The initial work, now referred to as Classical Constellations was more controlled.  For example, the client would position the representatives in relation to each other at the start. The facilitator gave the representatives permission to move. At times the representative may be instructed to stand in particular positions especially in relation to the order in the family. 

Later in Movement of Soul representatives could move more freely in the field.  In both of these styles, the representatives speak providing insight into what is happening in their bodies and what they are feeling towards the other representatives.  

Movement of the Spirit-Mind became more silent.  Spiritual Constellations demand that the facilitator drops into a deeper resonance with the client.  The working is generally silent with the healing sentences being spoken by the client rather than the representatives.

Group of Constellation dolls used for one on one family constelllations

Constellations are constantly evolving – directed by The Knowing Field, and the background of the facilitator.

Constellation work may be done with a group of people or one on one with a facilitator. With groups, there is a client or seeker whose issue is the focus of the constellation. Participants are asked to stand in to represent the client. Alternatively, one on one or individual constellations are done using constellation dolls.