I know that different Constellators have different ways of applying the method – I think I can say there are now quite different movements within the movement.
The fundamental idea is that unresolved entanglements in the family history (when heartbreaks happened and the traumas weren’t healed), work with negative energy into the younger generations, and often the youngest generation subconsciously in some way represents an ancestor, who’s heart break wasn’t acknowledged or healed, or who didn’t get the place in the family that they deserved. That means they haven’t got their full life energy available to them, because – without knowing it – they are trying to show that something hasn’t been faced or healed in the family history. It’s quite difficult to explain, so I give an example of what could happen (this is talking from experience):
Let’s say, a man (A) in the late 19th century experienced a very violent parent or even set of parents, which leaves him traumatised for the rest of his life. Because of lacking support and help in those days his heart is closed and he can’t give or take love. Because of family commitments or economic necessity, once grown up, he gets married to B and has a son (C). Wife (B) is a dominant person who never wanted children. C grows up without love. He just gets the bare minimum, which is a roof over his head, food, clothes and education. B grows up not knowing about his father’s violent abuse; he is not treated violently, but there is no loving affection coming from both his parents – this is they way he thinks life is. C eventually gets married to D, who trys to give him a lot of love. They have two children, E and F. C – on a subconscious level – needs that love and care from his wife, but he can’t give anything back but the bare minimum. Wife (D) eventually can’t give anymore and divorces him, and because she is so exhausted from giving, giving, giving, she leaves the children (E and F) with C. She starts a new life with somebody else and cuts all contact off from her old life. C finds himself abandoned and has to care for two girls, E and F. He brings them up and commits suicide once the daughters are living their own lives. Let’s say we now follow F’s life. F grew up lacking emotional support from her father and experienced a heart break when her mother (D) abandoned her in her early teens, she experiences the second major heart break when her father (C) commits suicide. Somehow she manages to re-connect with her mother, but she holds a deep anger inside against her for leaving her, when she needed her most. She gets married to G and has three children. She is diagnosed with depression, but she manages her daily life with the loving support of her husband (G), and she loves her children (H, I and J). Let’s look at the oldest child, a son (H).
Working with FCW
Having had the childhood of an outsider, at the age of about 18 H develops severe depression and is on constant medication. At the age of 21 – through the loving support of an uncle – H sees a counsellor who works with Family Constellation Work. He explains to the counsellor that he generally feels suicidal but can’t yet commit suicide because he feels he can’t do that to his family, yet. He is just waiting for the right moment in life. He is sure he’ll not reach his 34th birthday. H can’t understand why he feels so disconnected and depressed all the time, there is no obvious reason. He loves his parents and siblings dearly, looks up to his father and feels a lot of love and support from his family.
In one-on-one constellation work the counsellor finds out about the heart breaks in the family history and is especially interested in H’s mother’s depression and H’s grandfather’s suicide. The counsellor and H decide to look at H’s family in a group constellation workshop.
During the constellation workshop
At the workshop, when H feels ready, after a short conversation in front of the group, talking about the issue and what the major heart breaks were that he knows of, the counsellor asks H to find representatives for his mother, father and himself. H stands back and from now on watches what is happening ‘on stage’ (the designated space for the constellation). There are other participants in the room, who are now the ‘audience’.
The counsellor now feels into the picture she sees. The representatives are asked to feel into their bodies and to eventually, slowly, silently, move where their bodies are taking them (within the stage space; although sometimes representatives leave that space, which is an expression of not being able to be part of that family (system)).
In this case it becomes obvious to the group, that H (his representative) is standing on his feet, but moving forward, backward and sideways in turn – it looks like he feels torn, drawn or not able to stand still, although not really moving. Being asked what is happening, H’s representative says that he is waiting for something to happen, but he can’t say what, and he has to stay where he is until it has happened.
The representative for the mother (F) sees what’s happening, but lacks the ability to help or do anything. She feels sad and lacks energy and strength. F’s husband (H’s father’s representative) – being asked – says he sees what’s happening, and he’s there for his wife and son, but he can’t do anything else. The counsellor decides to take H’s father off stage and bring in F’s parents. It feels more urgent to her to look at this side of the family. H finds two representatives for his grandparents (C and D) and places them on stage. After feeling into their bodies, all representatives start moving again until a new picture occurs. H’s representative is now on the floor covering his face in his lap with his hands. C and D are facing each other. It turns out that C always wanted D back in his life and felt very angry towards her for abandoning him and the two girls. After some clarifying words between them and letting each other go ‘in peace’ (and seeing that there is in fact much love coming from D towards F), C collapses onto the floor, nearly the same as his grandson’s representative H.
The counsellor asks H to bring in C’s parents, A an B. It turns out that A’s representative feels he needs to cling onto his wife B. There is no emotion for their son C at all. They actually want to turn away and abandon C. The counsellor doesn’t let this happen and has a closer look at this situation. She lets the representatives for A and B express what they feel, facing their son C. It becomes clear that B’s representative can’t relate to her son (C) at all and feels responsible for her husband very much. There seems to be no space and no feelings for C at all. A doesn’t seem able to do anything without his wife, not even relate to his son. He appears timid and weak.
Stepping into the Dark
The counsellor decides to bring in a representative for a ‘Mystery’ (X) that relates to A. As soon as X is on stage, the following movement takes place: A, clinging onto his wife B flees from X. A+B, opposite to X, keep moving around C (being on the floor and crouching), facing each other. A appears absolutely frightened, B seems responsible to rescue A and holds on to him. X is calm and just keeps trying to ‘get’ A. X, asked what they feel they are, says, they don’t know, but they are clearly after ‘A’, and they won’t give up until they caught him. The counsellor steps in the dark, because non of what is happening is known to her client H. She notices the connection between H’s representative and the mystery X. H’s representative is looking at the scene frightened.
The counsellor decides to have A face X. She checks again what the emotions are between the two and it is confirmed that X is after A and will not give up until they get A. A knows that and feels completely powerless. The counsellor decides to have A say to X: “You are bigger than me. I surrender.” She checks whether A is ‘happy’ do do so and gets a ‘Yes’. It feels right for A to do just that. A surrenders before X, even with a bodily movement, which is laying in front of X, on his belly, face down, spreading his arms to the sides. After a while it turns out that X can now leave the scene. A, relieved, now feels like going back to his wife B. But although between the two of them nothing much has changed, all of a sudden, they realise they have a son that needs love and care.
Healing / taking back responsibility for own fate
Healing takes place through loving guidance of the counsellor. A wave of relief is noticeable within the room. This poor boy ‘C’ has never had any emotional support and therefore was barely able to stand on his own two feet, despite managing life somehow up to the point where he can’t take any more, which is when his children (E + F) are just about living their own lives. Now, the situation is different. Having some loving support from his parents, C’s representative hands back his parent’s fate-package (which they are happy to take), receives some parental love and can now himself give loving support to his daughter F.
He is now standing on his feet with much more weight and looks friendly to his child. Healing takes place between Father and daughter (an emotional hug), which – again – brings a wave of relief into the room. H’s representative, watching all this happening from his place on the floor with growing interest, feels this relief very strongly, too.
Resolution for the client
Once H’s mother F has received her father’s love and support, she can now turn to her son with confidence and strength. The counsellor asks H’s representative and F’s representative to face each other and asks F to tell H how she feels now, especially as a mother towards her son. She now feels she is able to support her son with strength and confidence, knowing she has the loving support of her father in her back (and the love and support for her father from his parents). The counsellor lets H’s representative move towards his mother on his knees (in order to emphasise the fact that he is his mother’s child) very slowly and in his own time. Once he has reached F’s representative, he looks up and – maybe for the first time – experiences a strong, loving mother (who is now weaping, overwhelmed with motherly feelings and the wish her son may walk his way, free from all responsibility to solve his parent’s problems). The counsellor decides to exchange H’s representative with her client H. She lets them breathe in this new situation, as long as they need to and finishes this constellation.
A new picture
H may now go away with this new internal picture of his family, hopefully freed from the need to solve his family’s entanglements. The negative energy that had been working down the line into his generation from an unresolved heart break in his family history has now turned into a loving supportive energy, and all family members now see their own responsibility in what has happened to H. They are all very happy to take back their baggage (fate) and want H to be free and happy.
Of course, a few things more happened in that constellation – it took nearly two hours -, but it would burst the frame here to go into more detail.
I hope I have been able to explain what the idea is of Constellation Work and how it can be used.
Please use the comments box below to ask questions or comment on the above.