Family Constellations

baby_momFamily Constellations get to the source of our challenges by demonstrating how we are in  our family system. They make it clear that we belong to that system and will remain a part of it whether we resist it or not. What remains unresolved in the system contributes to a sense of unease in our lives and for generations to come.

Much like psychodrama, a family constellation will be played out by a group representing a client’s family. The presenting issue of the client will be explored briefly and they will pick representatives of family members from a group that knows little about their family. The representatives will follow their intuitions and somatic responses to the dynamics in the room. What tends to happen is that an accurate depiction of important family dynamics will come about and be witnessed by the client. It is very powerful to hear from the representatives who know little to nothing about the family. What is known in developmental biology as a morphogenetic field is experienced; a kind of history that is remembered through the resonant memory of the group organism.

I have been fortunate to work with Mark Wolynn, a master in Family Constellations, trained by Bert Hellinger and a pioneer in his own system of Core Language Training. I participated in his Free To Love: Creating Great Relationships 2 day workshop at CIIS as well as his 4 day Intake as Intervention Training.

Developed by Bert Hellinger as he observed Zulu communities and how they did not exclude anyone from the family system, we have a lot to learn in the west about re-integrating members back into our tribes.

What is excluded in our family systems can haunt us, like our unconscious material, trying to make itself conscious through our blocks and destructive attachments in our lives. We can feel victims to these patterns until a family history lesson is learned and rejected parts of the family are accepted.

Constellations can offer deep experiential insight into breaking unconscious family patterns. Traumatic events can imprint family members and be passed down for generations. These traumas can be inherited and re-experienced by a later generation without having the direct personal experience of the trauma. A child can pick up on what is deficient in the parent and compensate to save or heal them without the parent overtly asking them to.

If these imprints do not get resolved, family members unconsciously repeat the sufferings of the past. Sickness, suffering, failed relationships and financial failure can all be forms of this unconscious inheritance. Family Constellations points to the source of theses problems and can help us not identify with them.

We inherit our family’s emotional patterns as well as physical tendencies. These emotional traits and temperaments are found in our family history. Traumatic events – such as the premature death of a parent, sibling or child, an abandonment, crime or suicide – can lead to destructive emotional patterns if left unresolved. Many people suffer from an unexplainable malaise that they do not know what the cause is. When asked the right questions about family history, we found that a family trauma in a past generation likely laid the imprint for current struggles.

The change I feel from doing Family Constellations comes from experiential awareness. I feel lighter and more connected, like there really is an unconscious burden lifted by giving myself the experience of talking to my ancestors. There is something very powerful about having the experience of seeing how the people in my family treated each other and were just doing their best. Then witnessing the transformation of things being ‘set right’ often by representatives who don’t know the story but instead are just following their somatic experiences.
Having my own somatic experience from relationships being set right has been very powerful. It is as though the energy in my body and relationship towards the parts of my psyche can be rewired and new energy can flow through. I have no idea what will come of this, but often people report improved relationships as lasting change from performing constellations. I certainly feel the power of being witnessed in compassion by others and gaining new compassion for my ancestors. I feel through constellations and the awareness of family systems theory that I can have better relationships with my family.
This may happen slowly over time, but I feel more open to it, like it’s possible. This was not an option before this training. I longed for a connection to my family, especially my parents, but after some very recent stressful experiences with them I shut down to this possibility. I hope to take a more open and optimistic neural pathway into my family relationships and trust that a closeness can unfold.
Through ‘Intake as Intervention’ with Mark Wolynn we learned how to ask questions to get to the source of an issue. We learned:
The problem, as well as the solution, is often revealed within the first moments of interaction with a client. When listening only to our client’s story, we risk following our clients into the places where they perpetuate their issues and remain stuck. However if we know how to get to the core or fundamental driving force behind the issue, we can implement the most potent solutions.
We learned how to ask the right questions that quickly exposed the core trauma underlying the client’s issue.
Through Genograms and asking questions like:
What is your core complaint (pervasive issue in life that keeps you from happiness).
What is your biggest fear? What is the worst thing that could happen around this fear (absolute worst case scenario)?
Describe your mom and dad.. are they; cold/warm, close/distant, loving/abusive, etc.
What do you blame them for?
We reveal unconscious loyalties to our family that keep us blocked by living out the beliefs of those that came before us.
Mark Wolynn is a master pioneer in this field and a real joy to work with.




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