Family Constellations (a
subset application of Systemic Constellations) is an
experiential process that aims to release and resolve
profound tensions within and between people. The development
of the process can be traced through a lineage of
philosophers and therapists including Edmund Husserl the
father of phenomenology, Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy , the pioneer
of transgenerational systemic thinking, Virginia Satir who
developed family sculpture the precursor of Systemic
Constellations and Bert Hellinger. In the past decade,
further advancements in the use of the process have been
innovated by practitioners throughout the world. These
include psychiatrists (Gunthard Weber and Albrecht Mahr,
Germany; Chris Walsh, Australia), psychologists (Hunter
Beaumont, Germany; Marta Thorsheim, Norway, Edward Lynch and
Dan Booth Cohen, USA; Judith Hemming, UK), as well as many
alternative care providers.
The term Family
Constellations was first used by Alfred Adler in a somewhat
different context to refer to the phenomenon that each
individual belongs to and is bonded in relationship to other
members of his or her family system.
Another largly known terapist
of our time: Svagito R. Liebermeister Svagito R.
Liebermeister was born in Germany in 1957, holds a degree in
psychology from Munich University, and has over 25 years
practical experience in working with people as a therapist.
He has studied a wide range of therapeutic approaches,
including Deep Tissue Bodywork, Neo-Reichian Breath and
Energy Work, Psychic Massage and Counseling. Parallel to his
interest in therapy, Svagito has been a disciple of the
Indian mystic Osho since 1981 and has explored a wide range
of meditation techniques. In 1995, he began to include
Family Constellation in his work, studying with its founder,
Bert Hellinger, and since 2000 he leads his own training
programs in this fascinating new approach to therapy.
Family Constellations A group
(workshop participants) is led by a facilitator. In turn,
members of the group can explore an urgent personal issue.
Generally, several members will be given an opportunity to
set up a Constellation in each session.
After a brief interview, the facilitator suggests who will
be represented in the Constellation. These are usually a
representative for the seeker, one or more family members,
and sometimes abstract concepts such as "depression" or a
The person presenting the
issue (seeker or client) asks people from the group to be
representatives. He or she arranges the representatives
according to what feels right in the moment. The seeker then
sits down and observes.
Several minutes elapse with the representatives standing
still and silent in their places. Unlike psychodrama the
representatives do not act, pose or role play.
Emphasis is placed on
intuition in placing the representatives and in subsequent
steps of the procedure. The aim is to tap into what the
psychiatrist Albrecht Mahr describes as the Knowing Field (Mahr
1999). The Knowing Field is claimed to guide participants to
perceive and articulate feelings and sensation that mirror
those of the real family members they represent. The
mechanisms behind this representative perception is not
fully understood. The representatives have little or no
factual knowledge about those they represent. Nevertheless,
the representatives usually experience feelings or physical
sensations which inform the process.
The facilitator may ask each
representative to describe how it feels to be placed in
relation to the others. At this point, the facilitator,
seeker, and group members may perceive something in the
spacial relationships and feelings held by the
representatives that is informative regarding an underlying
dynamic that relates to the presenting personal issue.
A healing resolution for the
issue generally involves the repositioning the
representatives and for the facilitator to suggest one or
two sentences to be spoken aloud. If the representatives do
not feel better in their new position or sentence, they can
move again or try a different sentence. Sometimes the
process ends before a full resolution is achieved.
A healing resolution is
achieved when every representative feels right in his or her
place and the other representatives agree. This is claimed
to represent, in an abstract way, a possible resolution of
the issues faced by the subject of the session.
Along the way to finding this
healing resolution, particular attention is paid by the
practitioner to configurations of the group that do not feel
right or which generate negative feelings or physical
sensations. It is claimed that such configurations may
represent systemic entanglements between the seeker's family
members. Systemic entanglements are said to occur when
unresolved trauma has afflicted a family through an event
such as murder, suicide, death of a mother in childbirth,
early death of a parent or sibling, war, natural disaster,
emigration, or abuse. Proponents claim that the negative
legacy from such events can be passed down to succeeding
generations, even if those affected now are unaware of the
original event in the past.