What is family constellation?
Family constellation is a powerful and transformative therapeutic tool that helps break unconscious limiting patterns that are taken on from our family system. It is a form of group bodywork that can be used to gain insight and information about your family history, dynamics, and possible dysfunctional patterns.
The method has been developed by German therapist Bert Hellinger, based on components of Gestalt therapy, psychodynamic therapy, as well as other influences. The roots of family constellation are to be found in indigenous African shamanistic practices, where Bert Hellinger spent a significant life period during his time as a Catholic missionary.
Bert Hellinger studied philosophy, theology and education. He worked for 16 years as a missionary for a Catholic order among the Zulus in South Africa. There he was intensively engaged with the influence of group dynamics. Afterwards, Bert Hellinger became a psychoanalyst and completed various training in Primary Therapy, Transactional Analysis, Ericksonian Hypnotherapy and Neurolinguistic Programming.
Over the years he finally developed his own method: Family Constellation (Familien-Stellen) according to Bert Hellinger was born. Today it is known worldwide and is used in many different areas. In psychotherapy, organisational and management consulting, education, medicine, justice, life and educational counselling and life assistance in the broadest sense. It is a training for life.
This extraordinary method was developed together with his wife Sophie Hellinger within the frame of the Hellinger Sciencia school and in collaboration with teachers such as Wolfgang Deusser, Gerhard Walzer, Joël Weser, Sami Storch, Renato Bertate, Cristina Llaguno, Thomas Wittig and others. We would also like to mention Gary Stuart for his pioneering constellation work in the LA greater area as well as Francesca Mason Boring for her work with Nature Constellation.
Why family constellation?
Family constellation is a form of expressive therapy. It is done in a group setting and its goal is to bring the fundamental patterns that create a problematic situation to light in someone’s life, be it at a physical or emotional level. It’s a ground-breaking methodology which doesn’t involve our mind and what we understand intellectually about our story but gives us access to deep emotions & feelings that might have been repressed for years.
For the practical part, participants of the group are chosen to represent specific family members or aspects of our life (work, sexuality, physical symptoms etc.), so we can explore the dynamic of the family of origin and the cause of the problem from a new lens. Our core limiting beliefs come to light, and they can be seen, released and transformed, so we can create positive shifts in our lives and relationships and start attracting something new.
Family constellation for LGBT people
This incredible technique has been developed primarily within a heteronormative setting, where the roles of ‘father’ and ‘mother’ are often matched with that of ‘man’ and ‘woman’, with little space for diverse types of coupling and sexual orientations. More recently, queer constellations have started to become more available and tailored specifically for LGBT people. Queer constellations are dedicated to gay, lesbian, trans, non-binary, non-white and differently identifying people whose biographies have been shaped by life events while growing up with genders and orientations that are not matching the normative status quo.
A constellation brings to light what can be seen, transformed and integrated and it may lead to a change in our self-perception. Family members that have been excluded, shunned, or missing because of their queerness can be welcomed back into the system. Loneliness, exclusion, rejection, abandonment, internalised feelings of self-hate, homophobia and transphobia can be transformed. It is something that involved the family collective system, that is, sometimes for generations, seeking balance or healing.
Queer people with gender diversity may be energetically entangled with other family members’ destinies, be they alive or dead, that is missing or individuals who may have died tragically or too young. Wellbeing comes in taking responsibility for our own wellbeing as we take a deep dive beneath the surface into the unconscious emotional territory to look for new energetic movement.
In family constellations for queers, sexuality and gender diversities show up in family systems and reveal aspects of hidden traumas, and histories of societal repression at the expense of the weakened and the marginalised.
Queerness as an element of the human condition may reveal trans-generational unresolved emotional traumas, and these can be healed towards a self-empowering, rediscovered sense of self. Each person whose sexuality and gender identity do not match the heteronormative expectation of ‘fitting in’ can find embodied trauma, loneliness and deep wounds in themselves. Many of these begin with the family of origin: absent or abusive parents, difficult siblings, oppressive families, and difficult childhoods. Each life story is personal and unique.
Family constellations are a wonderful, powerful method for holding space for these dynamics and letting the healing begin, in order to re-write your story and let go of the impact that tragic or heavy events have left in your soul. It is a form of group work and it is centred in a systemic perspective and the understanding that the individual is deeply embedded within, loyal to, and inextricable from, a wider system or field of relations, both ancestral, material, spiritual and ecological.
If you are an LGBTQI+ person (gay, lesbian, trans, non-binary, intersex queer, non-white, different) and are interested in family constellation, this retreat held in Tuscany in September 2022 with queers and for queers might be for you:
PS: readers and travellers from mYogilife get a 10% discount! Just mention to Kim or Matteo where you found their retreat and you’ll be receiving this exclusive promotion!