What is Family Constellation Therapy?

Family constellation work is relatively new discipline. Although many aspects are included in other therapeutic approaches, the method of working with constellation embodies some essential differences.

Hellinger has developed his singular form of constellations out of his own observation of certain regularities which appear over generations in families. The work was developed mainly in German speaking countries from the later seventies to the mid-nineties.

Doing constellations is a very personal work, which is influenced by life experience, personal knowledge and understanding, and therapeutic background. Many excellent constellation leaders are now working around the world, and their approaches differ widely. There are countless personal variations. Each leader develops a personal style, bearing his or her own signature, and often even a repertoire of ‘favourite sentences’, some of which are original and valuable contributions.

In observing the work, it is clear to see certain advantages and disadvantages in various interventions. It is not totally irrelevant which step is taken, even though various steps may result in constellations that are powerful and moving. A constellation leader can be considered to have mastered the art and practice of this work when he or she is able to adapt to a wide variety of situation flexibly and appropriately.

In a constellation involving the family of origin, the goal is not to uncover the myraid of connections in the family, but rather to look for the most powerful entanglements which may be hindering the client and restricting his or her own strength. Especially significant are the connections with those in the family who have died early, or those who have been shut out of the family in some way.

In constellations we are confronted with the phenomenon of representatives having access to knowledge, or awareness, that actually belongs to the people they are representing. In other words, the representatives are aware of feelings and relationships of someone they don’t know. Without the key concept as an underlying assumption of work, a family constellation would be unimaginable.
Other therapeutic approaches have also come to the conclusion that family members absorb certain energy from their own families.

The effects of fateful events in a family have effects which can extend over generations, even if the children have no knowledge of these things. This is astounding enough in and of itself, but is is not as astonishing as what happens in a family constellation workshop, where complete strangers, within a very short period of time, come to know things that are actually known only to the real family members, who are elsewhere.

The most significant source of strength for a therapist come from being called to a halt at the boundary of the mystery. The mystery of fate and of those connections and bonds that burden us without awareness, and use us in the service of some unknown. This is also a boundary in which one stands motionless.



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