"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!"
WHAT IS A CONSTELLATION?
Constellations is a therapeutic 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.
Constellations is a systemic therapy, and 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.
This approach to therapy has the advantage of being very quick as it treats 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, for example, and it makes accessible distant root causes, such as with ancestors from many generations back.
Individual sessions are available, although the technique started as an individual therapy done with the help of a group. Participants work as representatives of a certain situation in service to the person constellating, and while representing, it is common that they have insights of their own. The work is magical in the sense that everyone benefits, not just the client constellating. The outcome and goal is to bring you greater awareness, order and understanding to any problem you are facing.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF CONSTELLATIONS
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 this is where he first encountered family constellations and systemic therapy. Today he is known as the pioneer of constellations, 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.
Take a step toward your own healing
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. Representatives are chosen to represent different elements of the story and the parts interact naturally showing the story between the parts.
Family constellations address family matters of all kinds, including between spouses, siblings, parents or any other relationship. Professional and organizational constellations deal with such issues and allow one to test and try new potential career moves or projects considering other factors like happiness, money and success at the same time. The list of possibilities for professional topics runs long, and it's innovative for complex problem solving. Health constellations are related to any health issue, symptom or illness. Many times an illness or symptoms of one are a manifestation of a different problem in the family field, something that wasn't recognized or settled from the past. Finally, what I call a "self constellation" uses different parts of our own character, aspects of the self, to see the connection between the parts.
A constellation gives you the opportunity to step toward your own healing, and like all opportunities, it usually starts from a problem. See a more detailed description of each category here.