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How do I get started with Family & Systemic Constellations?

There is no one way to get started with Constellation work, but there are a few things to consider:

  • A group setting or an individual one?

  • To constellate a question (as an Issue Holder) or to come as a representative (Space Holder)?

Constellations is a therapeutic technique for the body, mind and soul. Unlike other therapies that meet frequently and are focused on a process, Constellation work is solution-based. This is why it’s often referred to as a “brief therapy” because in a session we are looking for the starting point (the origin/the root) of the issue you are facing. It is believed that much of the tension and blockage you are experiencing will loosen as a result of finding it at its origin.

There are guiding principles to Constellations, yet I like to highlight that the experience is always a personal one.

  • Perhaps it will bring the story in your head out in front of you to better understand it, to then be able to “get out of your head” and gain a shift in perspective.

  • Or perhaps it will reveal what the story is if you are too entrenched in it and unsure what is happening, bringing clarity and further understanding.

  • Or perhaps it will open your heart to the flow of love that was difficult due to trauma in the family system and the story will matter much less.

The experience is a very individual one; however, what is common among those who participate is that it will bring you greater awareness, order and understanding to any problem you are facing now or that you have inherited from the past. This is so much of the reason to do a Constellation, to gain a new perspective and expanded view of the issue you are facing.

Constellation work first started in a group setting, which today are referred to as either “Constellation Circles” or “Constellation Workshops.” This is when the help of a group (referred to as either Representatives or Space Holders) represent different parts of the story to show the relation between the parts. The power of working in a group is that the underlying dynamics of your issue are usually revealed quickly and one can watch it from the outside to get a new perspective and be able to “step out” of the problem for a moment. For Representatives/Space Holders, they often have insights of their own and opportunities for healing and greater consciousness. In this sense these are Healing Circles.

Constellation work has great influence from the Zulu people of South Africa, where Bert Hellinger was a missionary for 16 years. In his time with the Zulu people, he learned about their healing rituals and traditions and the inclusion of ancestors, even after their death. For the Zulu, like many indigenous cultures, healing is done in community and celebrated in community. If one struggles with something, there is an understanding that it affects everyone in the community and is a community problem really.

This perspective of healing in community can be seen in the group setting of Constellation work today. We might not all belong to the same family system or community, but what one learns by attending a Constellation Circle is that what one brings as an Issue to a Circle is often common to others as well, because we are human. In this sense what affects one does affect all, and those participating as a Representative/Space Holder often receive something applicable to their own lives. This is part of the magic and awe of Constellation work, and what makes it unique compared to other therapeutic approaches. In Constellations, we work with something known as the “Knowing Field,” also known as a Morphic Field, which is essentially an Information Field. Unlike other therapeutic methods, we tap into the information stored in this Knowing Field to see the relation between the parts and to find resolution for the problem brought. It is the Knowing Field that links us all and shows that being born into a family and having a family story is what makes us all part of the same “community” of human beings.

Not all cultures like working so closely with others or in community, however, and because of this, individual private constellations eventually started to better fit with western society. This is part of the evolution of Constellation work. We learned that the same principles of working with the “Knowing Field” can happen in a private consultation. Instead of using other people (Representatives), objects are used instead like small figurines or floor mats to give an embodied experience, which is my preference. The benefit of working in a 1:1 setting is immediate attention, instead of having to wait for a group Circle, and there is more privacy.

Individual Constellations can be just as powerful and insightful as working in a group. It’s simply a different way of getting the information. In comparison it’s quite active and energetic, so it's not unusual that a person just starting out will be tired after a session. The more one learns to do this, the easier it becomes because there is an embodied element to working with Constellations. When we “represent” different components of a story/issue, using the body to perceive the nature and energetic signature of the role is extremely important. By working in a group, the group members are doing this for you, or you are doing it for someone else if you participate this way.

Therefore, there is no one way to get started with Constellation work. Working in a group can be an obstacle for someone as it requires a different level of vulnerability to show themselves in a group. However, vulnerability isn’t exclusive to just working in a group as it’s part of working individually as well. Being open to “see” what is behind the problem we bring requires a level of vulnerability, like any therapeutic process really. From my experience as both a participant and facilitator, vulnerability is met with love and great compassion. Groups start as strangers and end by being united and bonded in ways unimaginable before the Circle started. This is one of the benefits of group work. If coming to a group is an obstacle and feels too uncomfortable, however, then I suggest starting with an individual setting. Here your needs for privacy and/or a speed that meets your needs will be met. But if you are open and curious to what this work is about and feel interested in learning more about the “Knowing Field” I previously mentioned, then my recommendation is to come to a Constellation Circle as a Space Holder/Representative to start. This way you will experience for yourself the ease and natural side to Constellation work. You will experience for yourself what it means to represent in a Constellation and you will see what kind of questions are brought to Circles. This gives more understanding when and if you decide to constellate something for yourself some time too, regardless in a group or individually. I also suggest starting by coming to a group because it gives an understanding of what is happening for 1:1 sessions as well.

So saying all of this, there is no one way to start Constellation work, just like there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to healing. It’s a highly individual experience. Feel free to write me if you have any other questions on how to get started:


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