by Chantal Guillou-Brennan — CHT, IEMT & Family Constellation Practitioner
What is Family Constellation?
The term "Family Constellations" was first used by Alfred Adler (1870-1937) to refer to the phenomenon that each individual belongs to and is bonded in relationship to other members of his or her family system.
In 1963 Germina Cerninara used the term Family Constellation to describe the intergenerational link between members of a family as well as the karmic link between lives in her book Many Mansions, Many Lives.
Bert Hellinger, the German philosopher-psychologist is considered the founder of Family Constellations in their modern form. In 2001, Bert Hellinger in Love's Hidden Symmetry, used the term "Family Constellation" to describe the invisible links between family members across generations. Bert Hellinger refers to them as family loyalties or hidden loyalties.
Family Constellations (a subset application of Systemic Constellations) is an experiential process that aims to release and resolve profound tensions within and between family members, groups of people and systems such as nations, organization...
The principle of this therapy is based on the premise that when there's been a painful event in one generation, someone in a later generation may attempt to carry its weight, taking on the suffering of a parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle. Illnesses, depression, anxiety, recurrent fears, addictions, aloneness and failed relationships can all be forms of this unspoken family loyalty. Constellation work allows us to break unconscious patterns and reestablish our vital strength, tranquility and dignity.
Hellinger's observation of unconscious yet powerfully influential trans-generational family bonds forms the basis of this profound process.
These unseen forces have the power to entangle us in fates that do not belong to us, fates dating back over two, three or even more generations, that are the legacy of those unable to resolve them within their lifetimes.
When this influence is acknowledged, the "blind love" which sustained it can be transformed into "enlightened love" and emotional and physical suffering can be gently and compassionately transformed.
"When the dead in a family are not respected or honored, they feel hollow, very empty and lost. If the living make a move towards the dead, respect them, ask for their blessing, then the faces of the dead brighten and they feel lighter. When this happens, the living feel able to turn away from the dead, who likewise feel able to withdraw. Evidently the influence works both ways - from the dead to the living and from the living to the dead." — Bert Hellinger
Group Constellation, Individual Constellation and Remote Constellation
Group Constellation is done with the participation of a group of people who gather in a circle and a facilitator who will lead the constellation toward a resolution. During the Constellation some members of the group (participants) are chosen by the client as "representatives." The client will also choose someone to represent him/her until the constellation reaches resolution, at which point the client takes its place in the constellation.
In some instance some representative get swept by the resonance of the issue being uncovered and may become entangled in it often tinting the constellation with their own issues (or drama if they start to act out.) It is the role of the practitioner to stop this form of constellation pollution to keep the client work the focus of the resolution.
The client is the person wanting to work on an issue and who will present his case.The practitioner goal is to identify a pattern of thought, behavior or an unhealthy cord/tie within the family or system.
The representatives are chosen by the client to stand for a family member or an issue, country, belief or ailment. Usually the person requesting the constellation chooses them but sometimes the facilitator does too. This process creates "the field" in which the constellation exist. At that point the practitioner is able to perceive at least the state of mind/mood of the participants (client and representatives) involved in that constellation and the energetic cords between the representatives involved in the field. The representatives are asked to immerse themselves in the field to "represent" truthfully, as to remain untriggered by the field. This is often a difficult balance to hold as the client has most likely chosen these reprsentatives by resonance with the issue presented. As such even the representatives benefit form a constellation.
During a group constellation the facilitator may ask members to explain what they are feeling, specifically in their relation to other members of the family. This may shed light on certain emotions and relational aspects that can be clearly connected to the issue being addressed.
Resolution may not be immediately clear to the person who has presented the issue. The facilitator in the session repositions representatives, occasionally asking them to speak their feelings aloud. Representatives may be moved from place to place in the constellation until they find a position or are able to make a verbal statement expressing feelings of comfort with their place in the constellation.
Individual constellation is done using wooden figurines, one-on-one with the client either present in the room or connected through Skype.
The client will choose wooden dolls to represent family members... In this case the client will not be replace by a representative but will experience the constellation form start to finish.
Through the intention of the client to work on a specific issue, be it physical, emotional or spiritual, the family energy field becomes present in the room just as in group work. The issue often appears as a symptom of the hidden dynamics within the family system.
Through specific movements and statements by the different family members (as represented by the figures) entanglements or energy blockages are exposed so they can be addressed.
The unresolved issues or energy blockages between family members may be released, allowing the energy to flow freely within the family system. Once the natural flow of energy has been restored the family system can come into balance.
In many situations every member of a family or system is affected eventhough they were not present for the individual session.
Remote constellation are done in abscentee of the client. The result of the constellation is shared with the client via phone or email.
Individual sessions are available to anyone who prefers not to work in a group and/or desires the privacy of an individual setting. They are also useful as a first step in preparing for a Family Constellation in a group setting or as a follow-up to a Family Constellation done in a group.
To schedule an Individual or Remote Constellation for yourself or to inquire about a Group Family Constellation meeting in Connecticut. Call 203-980-4103 or to contact us via email please click here. Thank you
Energetically Family Constellation can be perceived as invisible links between family members, therefore this method is very efficient when we have "systemic issues". As such when the pattern of thought, the false belief, is identified and love– as the only agent that bind the whole of creation– replaces it, then the healing occurs. I have experienced this my life, as physical and emotional healing not only for myself but also for members of my family.
These invisible links or cords are the expressions of love that binds us with our family members regardless of the notion of time and space. When love is interrupted because of circumstances, trauma, death or accident the person gets disconnected from the family group that does not acknowledge this rupture in a loving way. As a result the broken cord of Love is experienced as resentment, hate, guilt, fear reaching across time and generation and affecting the health of usually the most sensitive person in the living family. The result of this attachment translate itself in energetic imbalances causing the victim to feel sick physically, mentally, emotionally or feel spiritually lost.
Each family member caries an imprint of these intergenerational links: the healthy one and the not so healthy ones. Each of us appears then to be surrounded by connections to the living and the departed similar to stars in a constellation. The complete imprint of these constellations exist in every person's energy field.
Family Constellation therapy focuses on healing unhealthy connections broken by hate, fear and guilt and rebuilding connections of love, honor and respect.
Within a system members are bound by belief, ideals, rules, secrets, ancestral mores, and inherited stories and burden that are kept from one generation to the next. During a constellation Hidden loyalties are brought to the surface and released to the original owner/creator to free the descendants. As movements of peace and reconciliation arise, the genuine love and strength in a family can begin to flow in a healthy way. Both participants and observers can experience the profound effects of this work.
The role of the facilitator is to identify the negative feelings and replace these with healthy feeling of love, honor and respect.
As the constellation evolves each participant becomes aware of the these "movement of the soul" and the hidden loyalty or invisible cord that binds us are revealed and healed.
For the practitioner it means behind in complete harmony with the field. This may sound strange but this work more than any other energy based therapy requires for the practitioner to be open to the information in the human energy field of the client–seeing the client as an individual and also being aware and fully conscious of the universal energy field in which the resolution abides, Therefore the practitioner is connected simultaneously to the individual and to the whole.
Family Constellation therapy is mostly used with individuals as representative. Each representative must put aside any personal agenda and usually the influence of the field is so strong that ones personal emotions or thought become secondary to the emotions and thoughts of the individual being represented. Because each is now connected to the center of the constellation–the client.
In essence the practitioner is reading/revealing the human energy field of the client. As such the representative need not be individuals. In a constellation where we had run out of representatives we started using pillows. I have seen practitioners using foot prints. Often a person comes into the field first to awaken the energy being represented and then it is replaced by a marker.But not always...
An entire family constellation can be done with surprising results with markers. I have made and used wooden mini dolls to do that and I experienced first hand as a client the effects of such constellation. The client chooses the representative for each family member called in this constellation and places them within a defines circle.
Going a step further some practitioner take in consideration the influence of the four direction (north, East, South, West) and their associated elements and symbolism (North/spiritual issues, East/mental issue, South/physical issue, West/emotional issue). See astroshamanism and individual constellation.
Non judgement and open mindedness work best in this work. It is a work that requires a pure heart and although some have introduced specific method to identify the constellation to be addressed the actual work of bringing healing remain essentially the same. One of the method which can help a practitioner identify which issue to work on first is kinesiology the other is the use of genogram (below). Combined these tow method with famiy constellation work you have: Neuropsychobiology.
Neuropsychobiology (originally the work of Dr Dietrich Klinghardt) used Kinesiology (muscle testing) and genogram–a family tree in which the client lists all the traumatic events on the genealogical chart (sudden death, abuse, crippling disease, accident,...)– to identify the stress point that requires immediate attention. Dr Klinghardt seems to have abandonned this theory and is presently offering Applied Psychoneurobiology which uses a combination of Autonomic Response Testing testing and Mental Field Therapy to find the emotional issues that may not be known by the conscious mind.
Kinesiology is a method of diagnosis based on muscles testing in which the practitioner ask - either aloud or mentally- questions to the client's field linked to the Universal Consciousness. Question can be about health or truth that reside within the client's field and beyond. (Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior David Hawkins) .
The actual muscle testing is done usually with the arm or the leg. The client is asked to extend one arm out and the practitioner first tests the muscle response with known true and false statements such as the gender of the person or the name. First the practitioner establishes a point of reference for true false or yes no. Using a simple truth the practitioner gives the body the rule of the game. Only using affirmation (be careful not to use double negative) such as " my name is Chantal" the body will have a response usually strong that establishes your yes. then test the no with a know false statement "Chantal was born in Tokyo".
When using the client's arm or leg to apply resistance always check the patient range of motion and physical restriction: has he had knee or hip replacement surgery.... This should never hurt or be uncomfortable to the client.
I also have used my body as a pendulum: yes forward no backward. I find this method is excellent when testing product in a store:) or even when I am doing a energy medicine treatment and my hands are busy. A friend of mine uses her head that way and she says to get wonderful results from it. So experiment. Truth just is. We can access it from different angle, perspective, or technique but it still the same truth.
I have successfully used the elbow a well and I find that method to be more discrete when I am in the hospital or I don't want or have to explain the whole technique to enlist the client's participation. The way this is done is by asking the client to relax their arm especially their forearm. While sitting across from him, hold their arm at the hand and wrist and apply soft movement when you will feel resistance then it is wrong or a no. You can ask the question for your self nothing as to be done out loud. And you can imagine how convenient this method is when you are sitting next to the client. The simple gesture of holding ones hand involves a degree of intimacy that is deep enough for exchange and yet respectful enough to use with most anyone.
Why does it work?
Time is an illusion, space is an illusion, despite our perception of the contrary all that seem to be limited by the confine of time or space is available here now. All knowledge, all truth are part of the creation that is, was, and will be. All is part of the Universal consciousness or The All in All..
Therefore by tapping in the all knowing field of a person, the practitioner uses the clients perception which is stronger because he is directly concerned.
When the affirmation is true the field is energized the muscle is charged and strong and the client is able to resist the pressure. When the statement is false the field is weak the muscle cannot resist applied pressure or resistance.
This defines the range of motion for a true and a false statement. For a true statement, the arm many be strong and barely move or only goes down an inch or so–(this varies with the strength of the practitioner and client.) For a false statement the arm may drop completely or goes down only a few inches more than when it is true. For this reason it is important to define the range first for each client/practitioner relationship.
A few weeks before I had shown her my little wooden dolls to O. (see my figurines on the right) and she had fallen in love with them. I had gone to the art store to get the required material to built her own set. I had brought my heavy duty soldering iron to her to do the pirogravure on the pieces.
Yet that evening the pieces didn't have their faces. They were still blank just sanded and tained with a blend of teas.
My complaint was a strong pain in my heart chakra that had been plaguing me for over two weeks and at that time it was very painful. I wanted to know if it was physical though I didn't have any symptoms of cold, or if it was emotional and what it could be related to. I had treated many case of pneumonia at the hospital and had been looking at pneumonia as a possible mirror for an issue that was present in me but had not manifested on the physical level. I looked at the psychospiritual component of that ailment as described in Louise Hays ( Heal Your Body) and Debbie Shapiro's book: The Body Mind Workbook: Explaining How the Mind and Body Work Together. Trying to identify the grief in my heart wasn't helping.
She asked me to choose a piece for myself and one for the pain. I had to tell her toward which directions each pieces was turned. She ask me how the piece representing pain felt. It felt masculine and from that point the constellation unfolded...
It was about thirty minute later as we were talking that I realized that my pain was gone. I called her the next day to tell her that I was still feeling great and had no more pain in my heart chakra. We did not discuss it further as one is suppose to not talk about a constellation for at least three days after... and I have not had the pain again since.
About Astroshamanism and Individual Constellation
This work is based on Franco Santoro's work described in Astroshamanism: A Journey into the Inner Universe. Unlike family constellation this work can be done one on one of even by yourself as well as with a group. The energetic component is based on your birth sign and the 12 houses represented in your asrological chart. The 12 houses are built within the cercle (physical or virtual) incuding the four direction as well as the center pole as the point of entry. Planets are included as needed.
The practicioner and the client and participants involved in this individual constellation do a shamanic journey to the houses to gather information on the lessons that the client has come here to learn, and on his unique core qualities. The individual constellation is done within a cercle and with the help of ones spirit and healing guides.
This method can be adapted with the therapist doing the journey to the client's astroshamanic chart.
In this method, the journey process can be "coached" to the client using hypnosis. The client is placed under a state of alert relaxation or hypnosis and is guided to connect to specifc astral bodies or houses representing current issues.
With this process the client has an hands-on approach to witnessing/reading the solution. The practioner can enhanced the process by witnessing the resolution in a semi jouney state and/ or by coaching the client while seeking resolution.
I enjoyed exploring this method and as an artist I journeyed to each direction and house in my chart and gathered specific symbol and image to create my personal deck of card. It is fun and rewarding so again explore and enjoy the ride.
To become a Family Constellation Practitioner
The best way to understand and learn Family Constellation is, to experience it, and practice it.
All the programs, I have attended are a combination of observation, participation and practice.
• Bert Hellinger Approach for systemic solutions with families and organizations
Issues Treated with "Family" Constellations
Family constellations work is considered most effective in addressing concerns that are systemic in nature. These concerns might include family of origin issues, parent-child relationship difficulties, and intimate relationship challenges.
It may be used as a potential therapy method for people who:
• Are seeking to address negative or harmful relationship patterns
• Want to be in a romantic relationship
• Are attempting to resolve family entanglements
• Want to overcome inner turmoil
• Have experienced significant trauma or loss
• Are in search of personal and professional success
When business leaders and their organisations face a time of change or challenge, when they face an inflection point, a systemic workshop can create insight, clarity and fresh direction. Systemic constellations reveal the underlying dynamics and patterns that both limit and resource leaders, teams and whole organisations. By creating a unique three dimensional relational map of the issue, leaders can see how lasting change can begin and endure. Constellations are particularly useful when the source of the issue or the solution is not clear, where previous attempts to change have not endured or where there is a sense of ‘stuckness’ in the whole or part of a system. Standing in the ‘what is’ illuminates dynamics, softens hidden loyalties, completes missing conversations and opens up fresh paths to resolution and ‘what could be’.
Leaders looking to release inertia, enter or exit a system, prepare for leading a change or resolve dynamics that limit movement into the future find these workshops a refreshing release from confusion and dilemma. They leave with rich insights and clarity on direction, responsibilities and actions.
At the start of each group constellation, the facilitator gains the consent of all present to a commitment of confidentiality. That is, everyone present agrees to keep private all personal information shared in the constellation circle. Individual constellation are also kept confidential. Please phone or email me to learn more.
Recommend our classes and remind your friend to give "your" name when they fill out their registration form.