Systemic constellations

The Family System
Every person is born into a family system and feels closely tied to this system on a deep emotional level.  This connection comes from the love of the parents, the siblings, the grandparents, the aunts and uncles, and the entire extended family, going back generations.  On an unconscious level, we all carry the happiness and the sorrow of our family and our ancestors.  The wounds, tragic events, loss and mourning, guilt, unconsciousness, enmeshment, unrequited love, and unfulfilled lives of the people we feel connected to, continue to live in us without our even knowing it.  Unconsciously, we position ourselves along with someone in our family system and continue to live out his or her life.  Our loyalty declares:  “I am like you.”

I am like you
This unconscious connection has a huge influence on us.  “I am like you” can mean “I will not be successful professionally, just like you.”  It can also mean, “You weren't allowed to live your life, so I will life an unfulfilling life, like yours.”  Equally, it can mean  “You were rejected and ostracised, and I will do everything I can to be rejected, too.  That way I will remember you.”  It's important to understand that this loyalty exists on a very deep level, which is not accessible in your rational mind.  Often in day-to-day life, you may have little contact with the person to whom you are unconsciously so closely connected.  This person may even be a distant ancestor, unknown to you.  The consequence, however, is serious: despite honest efforts in the here and now, the unconscious “promise” to this other person (the unrecognized enmeshment) is what is keeping you from moving ahead in your life.


Invisibly connected
Our unconscious knows about these connections.  Our unconscious knows the history of the person we are being loyal to, and of every person we feel close to.  There is an invisible connection between all people; however, in order to protect ourselves and live together, it is necessary for this knowledge to be buried deep inside.  At the same time, by speaking the language of the unconscious, it is also possible to illuminate this hidden knowledge.  The unconscious speaks the language of symbols and imagery.  If we, spontaneously, without extra thought, set up the constellation of our family relationships, we experience these relationships in a concrete way and current situations and problems become transparent.  In effect, what is unconscious becomes visible.


Making things visible
"Creating a constellation" means making the hidden apparent and therefore understandable.  This can happen in the safety of a psychotherapist's practice where a group of people represent the client and the other members of the client's family.  The client then creates the constellation by spontaneously directing each “family member” to a particular position in the room.  Abstract concepts such as “fear” and “success” are also represented by people in the group and placed into the constellation.  If the client is not in a group setting, the same process can be done with figures that are positioned on the table.  The picture that this creates is the first key to understanding the client's situation.  Why is the father standing so far away from the rest of the family?  Where is he looking?  Why am I standing so close to my great grandfather who took his life?  Why is “fear” so large and powerful blocking my view of “success”, which is hidden behind it?

Healing Order
Making the invisible visible is a process of bringing what has been repressed to a conscious level.  In group constellation work, the substitutes for the family describe their perceptions of the person they are representing.  They say what they feel and also confront others in the constellation.  With the guidance of the therapist, further steps can be taken to loosen the enmeshment and finally to create a new order in the family system.  In individual therapy, this can be reached as unconscious patterns are uncovered and the figures on the table are then put into a healthy position with respect to each other.  In this way, what had been an unhealthy constellation can be brought into a healing order.  At that moment, the new arrangement of these figures (or of the family substitutes in a group therapy session), shows a peaceful, amicable, pleasant togetherness on a concrete and graspable level.  And – because we are all connected to each other – this change towards reconciliation has an influence on all the family members involved.  It is a gentle process but has impressive results.