In Family Constellations Western Psychology and Shamanic Wisdom come together. With this said, Family Constellations is a very experiential and heartfelt approach to healing.
The founder of the work, Bert Hellinger from Germany, had worked as a priest with the Zulus in South Africa for over a decade. In the Zulu culture there is a strong emphasis on ancestry, the importance of honoring the once who came before us, which makes a crucial part in Hellinger's work.
After leaving South Africa, he then studied different kinds of psychology, and eventually became a psychotherapist. In his sessions with individuals, he recognized that certain issues couldn't be resolved without looking at the bigger (family) picture.
Being it not finding the right partner, difficulties in a relationship, wanting to resolve an issue with their child/ parent/ co-worker, dealing with a chronic or terminal illness, making decisions about taking the next step and more.
FC usually is happening in a group of strangers, who come together in sacred circle in order to take a look at an issue in their lives. The facilitator then will ask for "facts" in your life and in the history of your family and ancestors. Important facts in family history could be sudden/early deaths, immigration, displacement, exclusion from the family, addiction, adoption, abortion, miscarriages, war/combat experience, family secrets etc.
The "theory" behind these important events is that the lives of our ancestors are deeply woven into the fabric of our lives today. What had happened to our relatives some generations ago can have an impact on our lives today. Often we are not aware that a hidden dynamic had been passed down in the family, when they are showing up as obstacles, difficulties in relationships, health issues etc. In recent years the field of epigenetics discovered that traumatic experiences can transmitted from generation to generation. The Ghost in Your Genes
The next step is to put up a constellation. I will ask the client to choose representatives from the circle, for him/herself and family members that seem to be part of the bigger picture in regards to the issue. The client then will give everybody a place in the circle.
This is where the experiential part is taking place: As participants are stepping into the role as representatives, they are stepping into the knowledge of the field of the client. A field of momentary information is available to them, where representatives report body sensations, feelings, and reactions, which do not belong to themselves, but to the person they are representing. This happens in so called "Blind Constellations" as well, where the group has not heard about the client's story beforehand. The client, who's issue is set up in the Constellation, is usually sitting in the circle, just observing from the outside, an advantage of this modality.
The beauty of this work to me is visible and palpable when difficult moments in the constellation turn into an atmosphere of relief, peace, liberation …. This often occurs when the representative simply says something that has not been said in the past, and needed to be acknowledged. These moments have immense potential to open space for compassion, disentanglement (of old patterns), the flow of love, and for finding a good place in the system. A constellation can also offer a great opportunity for us to get in touch with our ancestors and their experiences, strengths and health, besides all the trauma that has happened. Our ancestors can become a well of strength and support, a place where we can draw from. They are always with us.