‘Resistance is loyalty to the old and prevents development. Every expectation is thus linked to something already known. Only what shakes me to the core leads me onward. The rigidity breaks, growth follows. In the end we can only marvel at where we find ourselves’.Bert Hellinger
Family constellations or Systemic constellations, developed by the German philosopher and psychotherapist Bert Hellinger, is an approach designed to help with difficult experiences addressing personal, family, social and organisational problems. It helps to reveal the hidden dynamics in order to address any stressors impacting these relationships and heal them.
We are part of multiple systems within family, community and culture. With systemic constellations you can see, recognise and feel how these different systems might impact you, your life and your actions. The aim is to create a movement from that what it is now.
Constellation work rests on the integration of phenomenology and constructivism. In short, phenomenology is describing our experience, rather than evaluation and interpreting it – what it means to be you and your experience. While Constructivism is a perspective that helps us to see that we create lenses through which we see things. We generate our own ‘rules’ and ‘mental models’.
In Systemic constellations we look at everyone’s and everything’s place in the interconnected groups or systems to which they belong, rather than simply focusing on the individual in an isolated way. There is a field around us that holds all the information we need. Rupert Sheldrake compares it to the field that is around a flock of birds or a school of fish that are able to make sudden changes in their direction. And while they do this, every single member in that group knows which way to go. They never bump into each other.
We make up the whole, and therefore we carry part of the whole within us. Just like a drop of water from the ocean is the drop and the ocean in one. (paraphrased from Dr Wayne Dyer)
The Orders of love
Bert Hellinger, who pioneered this work, suggested that when love (from different generations) can’t flow freely in a family, that’s when problems, issues occur.
When the Orders aren’t acknowledged there is an obstacle in the system that can be manifested and made visible by different difficulties (health issues, addictions, problematic relationships etc). This imbalance in the system can be caused by different stressors (trauma, war, injustice…) Often they are deeply unconscious.
These Orders need to be respected for love, energy to flow more freely. When they are respected a shift is created that has a profound effect on our personal, family, social life in general. They are guidelines not strict rules.
These are the Orders in the systemic constellations:
- Place – everyone is at the right place within the system
- Time – we acknowledge who came before us
- Belonging – everyone has the right to belong to the system
- Exchange – an equal give and take must be maintained in the system in order for everyone benefit from the system
The work is done either in a group setting or on a 1-2-1 session. As a group setting there is a facilitator, the issue holder and helpers. The helpers are there to be representatives of the elements of the problem the issue holder would like to work with.
On a 1-2-1 session the facilitator is using figurines to represent the issue.
To set a constellation you don’t even need to go into the details of your issue. That isn’t necessary for me, as the facilitator to know.
What to expect after a session?
This isn’t a quick fix, short-lived solution. It can take some months for the full benefits of a single constellations session to unfold in your life and the life of those around you. However, there will be immediate relief and clarity of your issue.
You don’t need to understand it rationally, just allow the constellations to unfold naturally.
Family constellations can bring you new insight and solution with the following:
- Relationship issues (romantic, family, work)
- Divorce & Separation
- Cultural issues
- Death and loss
- Loneliness, addiction
- Looking for some answers
- Depression & Confusion
- Career issues & conflict
- Incest & Violence
- Health issues
- Secrets, Guilt & Shame
- Anxiety, Grief, obsessive thoughts
Let go of the final outcome (solution). Focus on the next step.