WHAT IS A CONSTELLATION?
Constellations is a solution-based technique that is used to reveal the underlying dynamics of a dysfunctional or problematic situation, be it family-related or not. Although the method typically refers to family issues, it can be used for any situation that needs healing, clarity or problem solving. A constellation gives you access to the personal map you hold within; it reveals the connections and/or conflicts between the parts (some known and others discovered) and then steps are taken to resolve and/or reconnect the parts. The experience will bring you greater awareness, order and understanding to any problem you are facing now or that you have inherited from the past.
Constellations is included in the family of Systemic Therapy and therefore gives a systemic viewpoint - who we are in relation to the other(s) in the systems I belong to - family, company etc. Systems Theory tells us that a system is the sum of its parts. Systems Theory teaches that a problem in the system affects the entire system and that the system alone seeks balance. A constellation is first a tool for discovering what is not working in a system and then a means for reaching the needed balance and healing. We are after all products of the systems that we pertain to, and naturally there are conflicts, blocks or bottlenecks in systems that impact how well they work. In one constellation, the origin of a problem is revealed and steps are taken toward healing and resolution. You work to change the energy of pain into a strength for example and this then allows you to move forward more lightly and authentically.
Depending on the starting point, this approach has the advantage of being very quick as it there is potential to treat the body, mind and spirit at once. One constellation can reveal the cause of a problem that could have taken months or years to uncover in a traditional talk therapy, as it can quickly make distant root causes accessible, such as ancestral trauma from many generations back. Often times this is enough, but when and if it's not, the root is revealed but the healing path is best taken using other methods, such as my own Integrative Approach. See the difference between the Integrative Approach and the Constellation Path here.
**Systemic & Family Constellations is a technique that has the potential of being highly transformative. It can be adapted to your needs; however, it is not a substitute for psychotherapy or psychiatric support.
Check out this podcast interview:
Family Constellations & Ancestral Healing
WHAT CAN I CONSTELLATE?
Any problem can be addressed in a constellation whether it's a family matter, challenges for couples, about other relationships, a professional issue or within your organization. Common topics are related to relationships of all types (spouses, parents, children, friends, colleagues etc.), help with decision making, health-related matters, or business and professional dilemmas, to name a few.
The Constellation approach is a good one if your problem involves other people, but is not limited to that.
A constellation will reveal what you can't see with the natural eye, the hidden dynamics and causes of a problem. By revealing the origin, it is then brought to consciousness and a healing exchange takes place bringing more natural order to the system you pertain to, your family system or any other system. If we work in a group setting, representatives are chosen to represent different elements of the story and the parts interact naturally showing the story between the parts. If we work individually, then you and I together "represent" the different elements of the story and look for resolution this way, making it a more active process.
A constellation gives you the opportunity to step toward your own healing, and like all opportunities, it usually starts from a problem. Common subjects include the following list:
Challenges with relationships and connecting with others
Difficulties for couples
New families, families uniting and cases with children from previous marriages etc.
Behavioural problems - for children, yourself or within the family dynamic
Health matters of all kinds - illness, eating disorders, fertility issues etc.
Coping with anxiety, stress or depression
Difficulty in reaching professional or personal goals
Looking for direction, greater purse and a sense of meaning
Grief and loss
Anger & aggressive behaviour, bullying etc.
Problems in strategy
Testing ideas, decisions etc.
The list goes on...
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Something to consider when getting started with Constellation work is working in a group or with a 1:1 session. There are benefits to both approaches and both options are available online as well, which takes away the concern for not being in the same time zone or country. Constellation work first started in a group setting and the biggest benefit to working in a group (Constellation Circle) is being able to step out of the issue and watch it from the outside. This gives great clarity and understanding. Individual and online sessions are both available as well for more immediate needs and can be just as effective as working with a group. It is an individual decision how to get started and if you are unsure, schedule a 20 minute Get-to-Know-Meghan to see what option is recommended based on your needs. For a more detailed description about each setting, go here.
"What surprised me the most was that I thought I would only be helping the others as I participated (as a representative) in their constellation, but in the end, it helped me a lot too!"
A BRIEF HISTORY OF CONSTELLATION WORK
Constellations was created by a German psychologist by the name of Bert Hellinger. Hellinger became a priest at the age of 20 and eventually his work took him to South Africa where he worked as a missionary with the Zulu tribe for 16 years. He directed a large school for many years, taught and was a priest there at the same time. His personal process of leaving one culture to live in another sharpened his awareness of cultural values, and he saw that many Zulu rituals and customs were similar to elements of the Catholic Mass. He later experimented with integrating Zulu music and rituals into Mass in fact. His work with the Zulu people was also striking because they included their ancestors in healing rituals, something the western world had often forgotten about.
After 25 years as a priest, Hellinger left and pursued training in psychotherapy. It was psychoanalysis that was the next major influence in his life. As with everything he did, he threw himself fully into his training. He trained in Gestalt Therapy, Primal Therapy and Transactional Analysis. Finally he trained in Family Therapy and from all of this, Family Constellations were born. Hellinger is known as the pioneer of Constellation work, and the work has continued to evolve ever since.
Anyone familiar with psychotherapy will recognize Hellinger’s work as a unique integration of different concepts. He in fact does not claim to have discovered something new, but instead has integrated many concepts into something new.