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Family Constellations

What is Family Constellations?

Family constellations is a therapeutic approach that helps reveal the hidden dynamics in a family or relationship by tapping into the collective, ancient and ancestral wisdom of past generations, to heal ourselves, with the flow on effect of healing our ancestors and those that come after us. By Bernadette Sutherland

I invite you to meet your family: I invite you to meet your family


Each of us, as we are born into a physical body, inherit genetic coding that has been passed down to us through countless generations of our ancestors.

Epigenetics – Mark Wolynn – epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene function that occur without change in the sequence of the DNA. The DNA that is responsible for transmitting physical traits such as colour of our skin, hair, eyes, surprisingly make up less than 2% of our total DNA. The other 98% consists of what is called noncoding DNA (ncDNA) and is responsible for many of the emotional, behavioural and personality traits we inherit.

What is family constellation and how
does it work?

In a Family Constellation session, we attempt to reveal hidden dynamics that span multiple generations in a given family. Trauma, physical and mental illness are passed down from one generation to the next and a family constellation can reveal the hidden dynamics and their harmful effects. We call these entanglements. Entanglements show up in many forms including disease, suicidal ideation, depression, bad fortune.

In a family constellation session, we use what we call representatives, who help reveal the family patterns and dynamics as they bring to light the factual reality of the past. In family constellation work we learn to accept in full the events of the past, so we no longer have to carry them or keep passing them down from one generation to the next.

Individual Family Constellation

Individual family constellations are different to group constellations. In the group constellation we have people representing your family members and we are working strongly with the phenomenological field. The client doesn’t participate in the family constellations, yet they are usually called into the field towards the end of the constellation.

In an individual family constellation, you work one on one with the facilitator. We can use many different methods, such as floor mats, paper, dolls or pillows. Instead of the client observing, they plays a more active role through participating in the constellation and they too work closely with the phenomenological field.

What is an Entanglement?

A person is entangled when he or she unconsciously takes over the fate of an earlier member of the family and lives it out. This means that the person has taken on “unconsciously” the fate of a previously family member, going back at least seven generations and living out that person’s suffering, to help bring calm and wholeness back to the family system.

“When someone is pushed out or excluded from the system, other members or the whole group have to rearrange itself, to make up for the exclusion, this then puts the system out of order. Once the excluded person is put back into the system, it frees those that are entangled with that disturbance.” By Bertold Ulsamer

Phenomenological Field (The Knowing Field)

Phenomenology is simply a method of deep, clear and present perception. In family constellations we work with what we call the “Knowing Field” and what that means is that we are part of a field that informs us.  Working phenomenologically means we consciously tune into the field and have a direct sensory experience. This means that those that are representing for a family member, will be able to tune into that member and pick up important information that we hope brings some form of healing to the client and the family system.

Family Constellations Code of Ethics: Family Constellations Code of Ethics

Family constellations can be helpful
for the following:
  • Improve your relationships (parents, partner, children, colleagues and friends)
  • Abuse (all forms of abuse)
  • Mental health (excluding Psychotic Disorders, unless accompanied by a carer or mental health professional)
  • Recurring emotional states such as depression, fear, anxiety, sadness, unworthiness, self-sabotage
  • Unexplained physical symptoms and health issues
  • Infertility
  • Addictions
  • Turns your past into a source of strength
  • Reveals hidden generational dynamics, such as unconscious loyalty to past family members


Bert Hellinger- Founder of Family Constellations

Bert Hellinger was born in Leimen, Germany in 1925.

Bert Hellinger is the founder of Family Constellations. Hellinger was a German psychotherapist and family therapist who was a former Catholic priest.

Bert Hellinger is considered to be one of the most innovative and influential therapists in the world of psychotherapy. He pioneered a way of disentangling the current members of a family from the unresolved issues of previous generations, so that love can flow from one generation to the next.

The major influences in his life included first and foremost, his parents, whose Catholic faith shielded him from the distortions of National Socialism.  At 17 years old he was drafted into the German army in WWII and experienced combat, capture and imprisonment as a prisoner of war.

At age 20 he became a priest, spending 16 of his 25 years in the priesthood as the headmaster of a missionary school for the Zulu in South Africa. Their approach to dialogue, phenomenology and individual experience influenced his later work.

After leaving the religious order amicably, he pursued training in psychoanalysis, Gestalt Therapy and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. He trained with Arthur Janov, Virginia Satir and Milton Erickson.

Hellinger developed this method from the mid 1990’s while working with families as a family therapist.

Bert has created the Family Constellation approach to healing the family field.  Through keen observation, he saw certain patterns emerge that he called “The Orders of Love”. His work continued evolving with the unfoldment of “Movements of the Soul” and “Movement of the Spirit-Mind.”

Bert Hellinger departed from his earthly existence on September 19, 2019. He will be greatly missed. His contributions to this work have changed many lives.

“When we know where we stand, we can fly”
“What you heal in yourself, you heal in your family line”