Working with body, head and heart
Family Constellations was originally developed by Bert Hellinger as a process that would unfold within a workshop setting. However, over the years since that early development, this way of working has moved into many different settings. One of these settings is that of the individual, one-on-one constellation. Using the Family Constellations modality, we can open a space to explore whatever it is that is keeping you from living a full life.
What makes this way of working different from the many other therapies that are already available?
Well, firstly there is less talking about the issue and less re-telling of the ‘story’ that is behind the discomfort, the unease or the stuckness being experienced. You the client and me the facilitator will approach the issue in a different way – we will work in a still space, outside the linear time that we experience in our daily lived world. We will also explore the wider, generational system that you are part of, and how the patterns and events of the past may be impacting your present life, and the lives of your partner and children.
The doing of an individual family constellations session
As in a workshop setting, the individual family constellation session begins with you the client setting up a 3-dimensional representation of your ‘inner image’, your internal picture of your family. The family members or elements belonging to the issue that you bring to the session are represented by small figures or placement cards. In fact any object may be used as a stand-in to take the place of what in a workshop setting would be a live representative.
This spatial setting out of the people or elements that belong to your issue offers an immediate visual mapping out of the relationships between each person in the family system. Me the facilitator and you the client, together enter into the work through this initial image with grounded calm and stillness, suspending judgment, stepping aside from assumptions and comparison.
Guided by the underlying principles of family constellations
In this individual setting we do not have the voices of live representatives; however we are still guided by the same underlying principles of family constellations:
Belonging – who belongs (in this family, in this group), who is excluded
Order – who comes first (in the sibling birth order; order of parents/partners, orders of the wider system)
Balance – is there balance between giving and taking (the giving of parents to the child and the taking of the child from parents)
You the client are guided by a ‘felt sense’, a felt experience of what changes each time one of the elements of your inner image (externalized by the 3-dimensional picture) moves, or when a new element or person is introduced into the constellation image.
Working with this externalised image also allows you some distance, enabling you to have a meta-view of your issue. This can allow you more easily to move away from being stuck in the story of the problem. The hidden knowledge that lies underneath ‘the story’ is what can be accessed through trusting the responses of your body during the constellation process. The uncovering of what has been unseen allows a new movement, a new way of telling your story. This in turn opens up the possibility of telling a new story that can carry a new meaning and new ways of acting and being in your world.
This is the power of using the Family Constellations modality – stepping away from story and words, and working with what is hidden in our family systems, using the deep wisdom of our bodies. Working with this modality also allows us to access the wisdoms and support from others, that we often feel cut off from when we are in crises.