What are family constellations?
Family constellations is a method in which the relationships and hidden dynamics between family members are made visible. And even more than making it visible is that a constellation works towards a healing resolution. That is the point where a new, more natural and healing balance for the whole system is found. The point where love between all members can flow again.
I like to say that a family constellation works with the family soul or family karma. A constellation reveals what is happening in the family soul and heals that soul.
What do you mean by a family soul / family karma?
Each individual belongs to and is bonded in relationship to other members of his or her family system. Bonded to all family members, even if they have passed away a long time ago or if the person has never known them. Some sufferings that happen in family life can have a huge impact not only on the present family but even on many generations that follow.
Some events are known to have this huge impact. Events like a mother or father who dies while there are still small children, a divorce, a child that dies, someone who is rejected from the family, suicide, murder. These life events can lead unconsciously toward destructive familial patterns. Individuals can ‘take on’ destructive patterns of anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, aloneness, addictions and even illness. These individual patterns cannot be understood by events that happened in the past of the individual him or herself. But a constellation can reveal that this pattern comes from entanglement with another family member – even a family member from many generations before. If, for example, a great-grandmother has been very sad because of the death of a child – grief she could never process completely – then you see that one or more family members from next generations take that grief upon their shoulders. They are trying to cry the tears of that great-grandmother. They do this out of love and loyalty. The person himself suffers from grief, but cannot clearly indicate where that comes from. A constellation can show this person the grief is not his or hers but belongs to this great-grandmother. When this insight is gained he or she can release this grief. And this can be true – not only for the inexplicable feeling of grief but also feelings of anger, guilt, shame or fear that cannot be understood well enough from the individual life events. Even destructive behavioral patterns can be a result of entanglements with previous family members. Behaviors like addictions, uncontrolled aggression and so on.
How does a constellation take form?
The starting point of a constellation is the personal issue of the ‘client’.
A constellation can be done in a group or in an one on one setting. The constellation is led by a facilitator.
In my practice, I have a brief interview with the client before the group is involved. In that interview, I want to know more about the issue the client wants to bring in and facts of his family history. I don’t want the other participants of the workshop to hear those facts. Some facilitators take the interview in front of the other participants.
After making this inventory I, as a facilitator, suggest which key family members (or other elements involved in the clients question) will be represented in the constellation. Usually this is a representative of the client, one or more family members and an abstract concept such as ‘depression’ of ‘the addiction’ – depends on the issue the client brings in.
The client asks people from the group to stand in the constellation as representatives. The client arranges the representatives in space according to what feels right at the moment.
In the one on one setting in my practice – I work with puppets – and I as facilitator explore all the elements that are set up.
At the moment the representatives stand in – they will experience feelings and sensations that mirror the members they represent. As a facilitator, I observe their body language accurately. (the body doesn’t lie).
With what the representatives have to tell I work. The healing resolution for the issue is achieved after adding some more key members of the system, repositioning the representatives and giving and sharing some healing sentences or ritual actions.
The constellation and the healing process is concluded when all the representatives feel comfortable in the reconfigured family system.
I often give some homework after a constellation to keep on the healing process.
Does it only work with the person who is doing the constellation or also for the other family members?
A family constellation can bring insight into the dynamic behind the life issue of the client and bring healing to it. So that he can live healthier, happier and have a more fulfilled life. Usually, the benefits of a constellation take some time to unfold.But in a constellation, a whole family system is involved. The moment you restore the system, it will affect the other family members – even if they are unaware of what happened in a constellation. This can manifest itself, for example, as contact between family members is suddenly restored after a constellation.
How does someone know when a family constellation can help or give support?
I always say – when you have a certain problem and you have already looked at it from different perspectives, but it still hasn’t fully disappeared, or when you have a certain problem and you do not know where it comes from – then a constellation can be helpful.
How many constellations does a person need?
The issue of a certain moment can be solved with one constellation, only sometimes more constellations are necessary. And after some period new issues can come up.
How much time is there between different sessions?
I advise at least a time period of 3 months between different sessions.
How is it for a representative to represent?
First of all. Everybody can do that. You don’t need a special gift for this. Many people like to represent. By doing so they help someone else and most of the time helping feels good.
It may happen that someone represents a family member of the client with a similar issue as the person himself. Then representing the position of someone else awakens your own issue.
Does it happen that a representative sometimes cannot get rid of the energy he was representing?
That can happen. As the facilitator of a constellation you have to pay attention to that. If it turns out that someone still carries an energy of the constellation, you have to undo that. There are various methods for this.