The Origin & Basics of
Family Constellation Work
The Genius Bert Hellinger
Photo Credit: Bert Hellinger and Margot Ridler during a Family Constellation Workshop and Learning Circle in Santa Barbara, California in 2003
Family Constellation Work or Constellation Work (which is the term I use) is a therapeutic healing modality that originated with German psychotherapist Bert Hellinger. For many years, Bert Hellinger was a Catholic priest and missionary to the Zulu in Africa. Eventually, Bert left the priesthood and married. He studied various innovative family psychotherapeutic methods in Europe and the USA. From there, Bert Hellinger developed his own, original group therapy he calls Family Constellations.
Working with thousands of individuals and families, Bert Hellinger became aware that people are linked to an invisible field he calls the Knowing Field. This Knowing Field can be accessed to provide information that is hidden and unknown. The revealed information becomes a catalyst that has the potential to induce healing not only for an individual but an entire family system.
Constellation Work is normally facilitated in a group setting. Family Constellations aid in addressing the root cause of our life’s most stubborn problems. In regular talk therapy, it is possible to discuss issues that trouble a person and never get to the source of why we feel, think and act in ways that cause us pain.
- For instance, a woman’s depression may be linked with a child she aborted when she was a teenager.
- A man's rage that he feels all the time might have to do with a murder in the family dating back several generations.
- A woman experiencing continual betrayal in her life may be tied to a handicapped ancestor who was placed in an institution a century ago and never saw his family again.
- A boy who’s continually getting in trouble with the law may be expressing loyalty to his grandfather who was known to be a criminal.
- A girl’s anger with her dad might be connected to her father’s first wife who’s still angry with him.
- A woman’s anorexia could be tied to a hidden wish to die to follow her twin into death who had died at birth.
Can you see how regular talk therapy, although immensely helpful in many ways, can not address such obscure entanglements? Some other kind of system of detection is needed to access the sphere of collective memory. Sadly, thus far, our modern scientific community has refused to give credence to phenomena like the Knowing Field. Eventually, in the future, I am certain, science will devise instruments that will detect forces that cannot be quantified as of yet. Today, scientists are able to measure electromagnetic and other invisible forces that were unknown 150 years ago.
Our current understanding how life works is very restricted. Our belief that solid matter alone exists is still all too prevalent. Nevertheless, something like a higher intelligence exists in the form of a greater wisdom. This wisdom has access to the collective memory belonging to all humanity. Whatever happened in history is meticulously remembered by an invisible memory bank.
Your present-day experiences are entangled with what transpired in the past. Bert Hellinger realized when people do not resolve difficult events or trauma in their lives, the effects can be unconsciously passed on to future generations. Innocent children may unknowingly live out the exact same fate or attempt to resolve tragedies that don’t belong to them via difficulties in their own lives. When with a Family Constellation the original trauma and the people involved have been identified, the unresolved suffering can be brought to a peaceful close. In this way, challenges that remained within a family lineage for many generations can be released.
Constellation Work allows us to tap into the mystery of our unknown family histories to gain information that can bring about true healing and lasting freedom. Family members that are currently living as well as future children will thus be freed from having to carry forward painful and troublesome family legacies.
Indigenous cultures adhere to this wisdom
The worldview and life philosophy of traditional cultures are based on the understanding that their ways of life affect future generations. Our Western culture has forgotten this age-old wisdom. For this reason, I will list some of the most prevalent traumatic life events that can spur entanglements over many generations when not properly resolved:
♦ Child loss due to stillbirth, illness, death of twin in utero, miscarriage, abortion
♦ Premature death of parents, siblings or someone beloved
♦ Any kind of childhood trauma – especially early separation from mother, adoption
♦ Physical assault, sexual molestation, rape, murder
♦ Serious illness, injury, injustice, handicap, mental illness
♦ Not being able to be with the person one loves
♦ Leaving one’s home country
♦ Involvement in war, disaster or crimes
♦ Betrayal and loss of one’s fortune
♦ Any kind of other trauma experienced in childhood or adulthood
Expressing my gratitude:
I am immensely grateful to Bert Hellinger, Heinz Stark and Gabrielle Borkan for all that they taught me and all that I learned from them. I would not be able to do the work I do today without having profited from their expertise, wisdom, guidance, support, love and care. I am deeply indebted to them.