A family constellation allows healing on a deep soul-level by leading us past societal ideas of morality and the human disposition to judge and blame to see a bigger picture and get a deeper understanding of why events happen in the context of love and loyalty to the family.
What is a constellation?
In a few words we could say that a Family Constellation is putting up a picture of a situation in the “issue holder’s” family system that is connected to a question or an issue. Mostly constellations are done in groups where representatives step in for the people or aspects concerned. But we can work with the constellation approach also in a 1to1 session.
A constellation shows entanglements between family members, hidden loyalties and shows who is excluded, forgotten or not acknowledged. So basically it might show us or confirm what we already know, but it also might show things that are hidden or that happen on a subconscious or unconscious level.
Family constellations connect us to our family and ancestors and make us understand that we are part of something bigger, that we are not alone, but that there are resources that are available to us (and that we might never had imagined). They help us understand where our life came from and that living our authentic lives is achieved only by acknowledging what is and what has been.
We can see so clearly how children unconsciously often sacrifice their own best interests in an attempt to ease the suffering of a parent or other family members. And since all of us and our family members were all children at a certain time, we can carry these patterns on in the adult life if we are not aware of what happens/ed underneath and have no chance to work on it.
A family constellation is not a magic wand but it is a powerful method to help us recognise entanglements both in our family of origin as well as in our current family or relationships. It can help to remove old and unconscious burdens that we carry for someone else and that bind our energy and hinder our lives from truly unfolding.
In a constellation we can see a situation or a problem within its entire context and understand which elements or relationships need order and harmony. But of course, in the end, it shows us also where our own responsibilities are and how to proceed in our real lives.
A constellation is a holistic approach. It includes body, emotions and mind, it includes personal and systemic factors. It gives us the opportunity to understand reality as it is beyond the limits of abstract and analytical thinking. It enables us to discover new and fresh solutions to problems and to achieve our goals.
In a constellation things are shown as they are and were – without subjective points of view and without victim consciousness preventing us from getting lost in our own “story”. We become witnesses of everything that wants to be seen and to be healed –in the safe space of the constellation circle. So for me a family constellation is a profoundly sacred soul work, restoring us to our rightful places within the family system and thus also in life.
What happens in a Family Constellation?
In constellations the body becomes the primary source of information, intelligence and change. We communicate with the personal and systemic unconscious mind through the body.
Please note that below I explain my way of working with constellations.
When we have a constellation day, usually 4 people work on their own issues. The rest of the group are representatives, means they come to support the quest of the issue holder.
When the constellation starts, I already have prepared the constellation with the respective person. This means that I know the intention (what the person would like to work on, to change, to be different) and we have prepared the constellation with the genogram.
The group will not know anything about the person but their intention which is expressed clearly when the constellation starts. Then representatives will be chosen among the group. They might represent the person’s father or mother, a sibling, the partner, a grandparent, a miscarriage – means people who in the preparation showed up to be important for the issue holder’s special issue. There might be also representatives for parts of the body, for a disease or for aspects like love, death, fate, creativity etc.
The representatives are invited to step into the field. Some facilitators tell the representatives whom or what they represent. I did this too, when I started the constellation work some years ago. But with time I experienced that – especially with representatives who are not so familiar with this work – it is easier to let go of thoughts or concepts or pictures in their mind when they do not know.
So the representative steps into a role without knowing who or what they represent. They are or guided to a place in the room or they are asked to find a place that feels right for them.
And then they just let go of any thought and allow every feeling, emotion, body sensation – that might come up – simply to be there.
I, as facilitator, am not a stage director, since a constellation is not a role play nor psychodrama. I will go with what comes up, ask the representatives how they feel, what they feel, sometimes propose words or healing sentences which they will check if they are able to say them or not, ask them to move – depending on the process of the constellation. And everything I do or say is on the basis of and resonates with “The Orders of Love”.
The approach is phenomenological – which means that I expose myself to a larger context without the intention to help and without the intention to prove or demonstrate something and without fear of what might come up. And while I expose myself to it, the inspiration and guidance shows up. I am guided by the dynamic of the feelings, movements and words of the representatives. The initial situation slowly changes, forgotten or excluded family members are remembered or included, entanglements disentangled, “rights” or “wrongs” don’t matter anymore, and so on until at the end – hopefully – we have a “final picture” that shows us a state of solution.
At a certain point, towards the end the issue holder “steps into the picture” and takes over his/her position from the representative or together with the representative. So he/she can feel deeply the healing energy and internalize the “image of solution”. A solution that is already there, though on a level that did not yet manifest.
The solution is found when the represented family members or aspects are in their right place. When everyone acknowledges what needs to be acknowledged. When everyone feels in their dignity and everyone feels good. And you can see this in the posture and in the faces of the representatives.
What about representatives?
Without representatives we could not do group constellations. Representatives are essential for the Family Constellation workshops.
There are people who never did their own constellation but love it to be representatives. They say that from every workshop they take so much with them, they feel different, they trust themselves more, they feel with the role they represented they healed something in their own family.
Finally we are all representatives in a constellation workshop. The ones who work on their own issue will be representatives in someone else’s work as well. Being a representative means that you experience something bigger, something that is not yours but belongs to someone or something of another one’s family system. It gives you the chance to understand and experience so many feelings, sensations and emotions – how it feels to lose a child, how it feels to be a mother blamed by a child or a child that suddenly understands why the mother was unable to see it. You might experience that victims and perpetrators have a bond that we cannot understand on a conscious level. And you might experience the consequences for a child when the parents fight against each other. Or, if you represent an aspect such as love, death, sexuality, creativity etc. – you might be overwhelmed by their power and being totally different from what you might have expected.
Basically as a representative you could represent any person or aspect that is needed in that special constellation. Could be the issue holder, mother, father, sibling, grandmother or whoever, or any aspect that is needed.
Being a representative is an amazing opportunity for letting go, for learning to trust you inner voice and intuition, for opening your heart in a safe space, for understanding more about life and its natural laws. It is an amazing opportunity for developing compassion and awareness, for understanding that – on a certain level – maybe there is no right or wrong, no good or bad, but that we all follow a subconscious or unconscious pattern that keeps us connected with our family history. And all this not from someone telling you about it, but through your own sensory experience.
Some people are worrying about it if they will be able to feel or express what they feel. But this is something you don’t have to worry about. Of course people are different, some are more self-contained, others are more emotional. But since we are not on a stage and we do not play roles this doesn’t matter at all.
Interesting is also that many times the roles of the representatives have to do with their own family system or an own issue. And only by representing this person there might be many insights regarding an issue or question that you have.
What you should consider
First of all – a family constellation can complement but not replace a therapy. If you need a therapy you should search for a good therapist in your area.
Second, a family constellation is not a magic wand that changes your life from one moment to the other (though sometimes it really has amazing effects).
The decision of whether to participate in a family constellation or not should be independent of somebody else’s opinion – might that be a positive or a negative one.
Usually you can feel if it is the right time and place and especially the right facilitator. Constellation work is a matter of trust – so check out thoroughly and listen to your inner voice.
Never do a family constellation out of fun or simple curiosity. You always should have a sincere concern when you want to do your own constellation.
If you are not sure about it you can always participate as a representative or merely watching as a spectator. In the last case talk about it with the facilitator – no one will force you to make yourself available as representative.
You should be healthy and relaxed when you go to a constellation. So if you caught the flu, feel sick or are weakened for some other reason, cancel the booking and come another time.
When you are undergoing psychotherapy it might be good to talk about your intention to do a constellation with your therapist. More and more therapists see constellations as a valuable complement to a therapy.
Important! The facilitator has to be informed if you suffer from severe psychological problems of have experienced severe trauma. The facilitator will then tell you if a participation is recommended or not.
Important! You should not participate in a constellation if you have consumed alcohol, drugs or heavy medication that cloud your awareness or alter you mind.