Family constellations - What are they ?

Bert HELLINGER is the founder of Family Constellations. He was born in Germany in Cologne in 1925. After studying philosophy, theosophy and theology he was ordained a priest. In this context he remained as a missionary in Africa with the Zulus for 16 years. He then became a psychotherapist and taught different disciplines: transactional analysis, group dynamics, primal therapy, systemic family psychotherapy, NLP and Erikson’s hypnosis.

But it was in the 1980’s that he began to expound his observations in a therapeutic environment, notably his theory about Family and Systemic Constellations.
In this context Bert Hellinger says that everyone’s life is conditioned by a destiny that often does not belong to them. even serious illnesses, death wishes, problems at work and with relationships can have their origin in entanglements - that he calls identifications - in the family system, and that these identifications can be revealed through the process of family constellations.

The constellations of a family or a system - this could be work, idealogical, relationships - is represented by a group of participants who recreate - without being aware of this - the ties of interdependence among the members of a family or a group of people. This representation will clarify the unconscious dynamics that cause suffering in the different aspects of the lives of each one of us: we will be able to observe the underlying ties in our sentimental and professional relationships, also in our relationship with money and health.

Among the fundamental laws observed by Hellinger which support the theory of Family Constellations we find the order of love, the order of belonging, the law of the sacred order, the order of equilibrium and exclusion, the Intricacy, the hierarchic order, blind love and the interrupted movement.

Above all in the family the confusion of the roles and functions between the adults and children is obvious and the reason for the consistent disorder; for example in a family an absent father’s role can be taken over by a son, he will then find that he is both a son and a little husband. Or a son who starts teaching his parents how to be parents accomplishing thereby a double generational leap, playing the role of his grandparents.

As already expressed, in Family Constellations there are some principles which allow us to understand the functioning of a system.