The hidden dynamics that affect our lives
Having worked with a number of people in coaching or training scenarios I have found that there are many occasions where people are stuck and feel like they are constantly running uphill or hitting a brick wall in their lives. No matter what they do, it feels like a hopeless pursuit.
After much research, I discovered that there are hidden dynamics in our life that are unexplained and require a very different intervention.
Enter the world of Systemic theory and Family Constellation therapy.
Here is a brief description of this work and how it helps to uncover and understand these hidden patterns that affect our life, our success and our perceptions.
About Family Constellation Therapy
Family constellations is a unique therapeutic method that was developed by Dr Bert Hellinger (2011 Nobel Peace Prize nominee) in the early 90’s. The philosophical orientation of Family Constellations were derived through an integration of existential phenomenology, family systems therapy and elements of indigenous spiritual mysticism. It has been influenced by different forms of psychotherapy, including, family systems psychology, psychodrama, trans-generational systemic thinking, brief therapy, hypnotherapy and transactional analysis. Deep wisdom and understanding of ancestral influences on our life dynamics has been drawn from the Zulu tribes in Africa.
Rather than working with our disruptive patterns through the realm of the mind and essentially working to fix the effects we are already experiencing, family constellations aims to deal with the issue at its cause.
Themes to look for are:
Any form of trauma that we have experienced in our past, that has not been resolved at a cellular level still lives inside our psychology and unconsciously impacting our life. This may include early birth trauma, childhood experiences, fears and pains, deaths in the family, abortions and miscarriages.
For various reasons in the past, certain individuals have been left out or ‘excluded’ from the family systems as ‘black sheep’ of the family. A key principle in family systems theory is that everybody has a right to belong. When somebody is missing, family members in future generations ‘go looking’ for them (since the family member is not usually aware that they are looking for someone, this happens unconsciously and people often feel lost in their lives, without a sense of direction). Numerous cases in family constellations have shown that when the missing person in the family is ‘found’, a great resolution and balance to the entire system is achieved.
3) Entanglement (confused roles)
When we have a sense of living somebody else’s life or when we do things that are normally out of our own character, it could very likely be an entanglement or confused role. This means that you have confused your life role with somebody else in your family system and you live their life and not yours.
Through the Zulu culture, Hellinger discovered that there is a hidden order inside our family systems which needs to be honored. Simply put, who comes first has the first position. First born, then second born then third born etc. If, for example, the third born takes the place of the first born then this is perceived as a disruption in the natural order of the family system and can cause an unexplained distance or quarrel between the siblings or other members of the family.
How it works:
This description is the prototype group Family Constellation as developed by Bert Hellinger in the 1990s. Many practitioners have blended Constellation work with psychological aspects of healing. Others have kept the classic form as taught by Bert Hellinger, such as the Constellation Approach. The Constellation Approach merges concepts of Family Constellations, energy medicine, and consciousness studies to compliment the understanding of classic Constellation methodology.
A group (workshop) 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 client, one or more family members, and sometimes abstract concepts such as an illness or even a country.
The person presenting the issue (client) asks people from the group to stand in the Constellation as representatives. He or she arranges the representatives according to what feels right in the moment. The client 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, dialogue or role play.
Emphasis is placed on perceptive intuition in placing the representatives and in subsequent steps of the procedure. The aim is supposedly to tune into what the psychiatrist Albrecht Mahr describes as the Knowing Field and former biologist Rupert Sheldrake has theorized is morphic resonance.
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; however, representative perception (morphic resonance) is not a concept with any scientific basis. The representatives have little or no factual knowledge about those they represent. Nevertheless, the representatives usually experience feelings or physical sensations that are thought to inform the process.
The facilitator may ask each representative to briefly report how they feel being placed in relation to the others. The facilitator, seeker, and group members may believe they perceive an underlying dynamic in the spacial arrangement and feelings held by the representatives that influence the presenting personal issue. Often, configuring multiple generations in a family is thought to reveal that severe traumas continue to unconsciously affect the living long after the original victims or perpetrators have died.
A healing resolution for the issue generally is supposedly achieved after re-positioning the representatives and adding key members of the system who have been forgotten or written out of the family history. When every representative feels right in his or her place and the other representatives agree, the facilitator may suggest one or two sentences to be spoken aloud. If the representatives do not feel at peace with their new position or sentences, they can move again or try a different sentence. This is claimed, in an abstract way, to represent a possible resolution of the issues faced by the seeker. Sometimes the process concludes without a full resolution being achieved.
When the facilitator feels that the healing resolution has taken hold among the representatives, the seeker is invited to “replace his/her representative in the Constellation”. This supposedly allows the seeker to perceive how it feels to be part of a reconfigured system. When everyone feels comfortable in their place, the Constellation concludes.