An Approach of Systemic Family Therapy

Family Constellations is the modality of choice when it comes to long standing difficulties, when other forms of therapy seem to be ineffective or there is simply a deep curiosity for a more effective way to resolving complex situations. By setting a constellation the healing process is set in motion. Significant shifts begin to happen in an entire family system and in the health and wellbeing of specific family members.


We are all a product of our environment, family, society and other social groups. Our physical, mental and emotional issues show up in us as aspects of physical illness, depression, low self-esteem, anger, anxiety, stuck interpersonal relationships, etc. These conditions are often the result of unresolved disturbances in the family system, often spanning more than one generation and mostly not held consciously. 


According to the Family Constellations philosophy, a family is connected on a soul level, and have a shared consciousness, or family group energy.  Disturbances to the "Orders of Love" in previous generations affect the lives of both current and future generations. When we are able to see what has gone before in a new light , pent up energy is released in the family system allowing for healing to happen. The love that is held in all families, even when damaged and misdirected, becomes a vehicle for transformation and has the power to heal.


In family constellations there is no attribution of blame. Rather, it is about seeing the bigger picture and how different people, events and other aspects come together to create certain scenario’s. It is a phenomenological process based on the philosophy of love.


Family Constellation method


When you bring a difficulty for family constellations, it is heard by a group of people sitting in a circle. You are then invited to set up a constellation as they see it, asking people from the group to represent members of your family. This spatial arrangement reveals relationship dynamics in a very real way. By engaging the constellation more information is released from "collective unconsciousness" or “the knowing field”. With stunning accuracy the constellation reveals long held beliefs, hurts and patterns of behaviour of the family system. This just is. There is no judgement. The system also indicates what needs to happen for it to return to harmony and balance.


This may sound like magic; however, we have all had experiences where we just know what has happened before or what will happen in the future. At times we feel strongly connected to others, perhaps when involved in team sports, or during family gatherings, or when we feel deep love. We have all had experiences of synchronicity and déjà vu.  However, with Family Constellation this is much stronger as we intentionally and respectfully enter the knowing field. The representatives are able to access feelings, emotions, and very often the characteristic behaviour of people they have never or heard of before.


This approach is deeply humbling and unique in the way it demonstrates that we are all truly one. Representatives find that just by ‘rep-ping’ shifts happen in their own lives as well. At one level we all share the same stories and we are all connected. The key is the restoration of love.


The Development of Family Constellations 


Family Constellation work is relatively new in South Africa, but it has been very popular in Europe for a number of decades now. It is a form of systemic family therapy developed by Bert Hellinger, a German psychotherapist now in his 80’s.  Hellinger spent the last 30 years uncovering, developing and practicing Family Constellations as well as teaching it to others who in turn became master trainers.  In working with thousands of family systems, he observed a natural order that determines how family dynamics unfold at an unconscious level and how unresolved issues in previous generations affect the lives of successive generations.


Bert Hellinger's work is dedicated to bringing together what has been separated, to bring healing through acceptance, and respecting the movements of the heart. Facing our deepest feelings and the feelings of our family members we are naturally redirected towards love. We are supported in this by our loved ones and so can receive the gifts which come from Love - the peace, the strength, and the freedom to choose our ways anew.


The word ‘constellations’ alludes to the arrangement of people and events in relation to one another, the past and the future. Patterns emerge. As with heavenly bodies (stars, solar systems and galaxies) there is a history, an originating moment, often lost in time, and a constantly evolving path directing us toward the future.