Constellation therapy may sometimes be called Family Constellation therapy or Systemic Constellation therapy. Either way, constellation means a group of associated persons or ideas. Family Constellation Therapy as developed by Bert Hellinger during the last 20 years, has grown rapidly in Europe and is currently employed in more than 25 countries worldwide.
The basic premise behind Family or Systemic Constellation therapy is that none of us are islands immune, to the influence of our family group. All of us, whether we knew our parents or not, have 16,384 ancestors if we go back 14 generations. These ancestors form part of our system including cultural conditioning from countries of origin, religious beliefs and sociological factors. Everyone is an integral part of the relationship systems in which he or she lives.
Family/Systemic Constellation Therapy was pioneered by psychotherapist and philosopher Bert Hellinger. Hellinger is probably Europe’s most innovative and provocative psychotherapist who has identified how in a family there are certain loyalties and fates which are transmitted down through the generations through the operation of unconscious family consciences. Experiences of trauma can be so painful as to cause a split in the soul. This can have negative effects on family members for two, three or more generations causing a wide variety of life problems, which can also manifest as physical or mental illnesses.
Systemic or Family Therapy is not a new technique but Bert Hellinger developed Family or Systemic Constellation Therapy into something new. Using his approach, when the family of the person in question is constellated previously hidden relationships come alive and reveal unconscious hidden dynamics in the family system.
All Constellation Therapy is orientated towards resolution and finding resources. It recognises that the past has to be put to rest in order to turn to the future. At the same time it acknowledges what has happened and gives up any fantasy that what has been done can be undone.
What Happens in a Group Constellation Workshop?
A Group Constellation is an opportunity to explore your own issues in a safe, confidential space. Each person can explore their family issues without the presence of their family being required. With the guidance of an experienced facilitator you are helped to clarify any issue you want to work on. Then using members of the group as representatives of your family, you place them intuitively in relation to each other.
A constellation creates a ‘living map’, of what is often hidden in the family system. Through the constellation it is possible to observe objectively rather than subjectively your own family system and its influences. The family system gives life to the individual with all the accompanying possibilities and limitations. Acknowledging what is in the system enables us to see the context of own lives and to see those who may have been judged or excluded.
Each workshop has around ten participants who each do a constellation during the weekend. There may be others present who chose not do their own constellation but are valuable in acting as representatives in participants’ constellations.
Constellation work can be a very deep and moving experience which reveals and resolves hidden dynamics and allows love to flow where before it may have been stuck or inappropriately expressed.
A constellation can serve as an illuminating adjunct process within a conventional course of psychotherapy.