What are family constellations in psychology?

What are family constellations in psychology?
Bert Hellinger is the creator of family constellations. In a German psychotherapist and family therapist who was a priest. He developed his method in the mid-1990s from his experience working with families as a family therapist. Family constellations is a therapeutic approach designed to help reveal hidden dynamics in a family in order to address the stressors that affect those relationships to treat them.

Family constellations is a dynamic therapy that continues to evolve, although its basic principles remain the same and constitute an alternative to traditional methods that are not without criticism for the lack of scientific evidence. In this Transkerja.com article, we explain what family constellations in psychology are.

Family constellations: what they are

Family or systemic constellations is a form of emotional therapy and a group process that allows you to discover the underlying or hidden dynamics present in the family, whether present or of origin. It is a method that allows us to identify family conflicts, both in the family of origin and in the present, and change the suffering or other problems present in different generations of the family. Hellinger observed that many of us unconsciously "assume" destructive family patterns of anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, loneliness, alcoholism and even illness as a way of "belonging" to our families.

What is a family constellation session like?

The therapy is usually carried out in one or two sessions with a group of people. In a group workshop, the client chooses other participants to represent the people involved in their problem. Participants take turns representing the people involved in the problems of others. Some deeper conflicts may require more sessions.

Although a family constellation seems similar to a project through psychodrama , it is not because it does not select particular events in the client's life to reproduce them, it is about revealing family dynamics without any sense of drama and with little or almost No information on the subject or the lives of the people affected. The person with the problem does not participate in the representation to be able to observe the process from outside and thus see it from another perspective and may consider other alternative solutions.

Are family constellations dangerous?

Performing a family constellation has some benefits compared to other traditional methods. A family constellation is a brief and profound experiential process that allows internal changes to occur so that external change can take place, for this the person has to be really ready for the change. Therefore, preparation is very important and allows a space for:
  • Contemplate new perspectives of the problem
  • Acceptance: it requires maturity, compassion and leaving the wounds of the past aside. Accepting what we cannot change is the objective.
  • Gratitude for what we have
  • To love for oneself and others: to accept ourselves we must accept where and from whom we come. This may involve the resolution of pending issues from our previous experiences and the release of family and systemic traumas.

Benefits of family constellations

In summary, the benefits would be the following:
  • It is a very fast process. Some people solve their problems in one or some sessions
  • People involved in the problem do not need to be present
  • You do not need to know what happened, that is, you do not need to know the problem just some facts discovered
  • Resolution or change (not always) usually affects or modulates the other people involved in the problem
This therapy is based on the fact that relationships are perhaps the most important aspect of the human experience since we are individual and relational in nature. We need time alone and we also have an innate need to belong to a differentiated group, at the beginning they were tribes and as we have evolved large families. A sense of healthy belonging gives us warmth, satisfaction and tranquility.

Issues addressed by family constellations

Family constellation therapy is considered adequate to address concerns that have a systemic or relational nature. These concerns may include problems of the family of origin, difficulties in the parent-child relationship and in the intimate relationship of the couple.

It can be used as a potential therapy method for people who:
  • They are looking for help to address negative or harmful relationship patterns
  • They want to solve their relationship relationships
  • They are trying to solve family problems
  • Have experienced major trauma or loss
  • They want to achieve personal and professional success