Family Constellation

Family Constellation

A complementary counselling approach for enriching relationships

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How can family constellation nourish you?

Family constellations[1], also known as systemic constellations, help a person to uncover, understand and resolve relationship problems. It can assist in healing relationships as it helps to reframe family dynamics and view them from a fresh perspective. 

The therapeutic effect is achieved by creating a ‘constellation’ or arrangement using things or other people to represent real people in their lives. As a person creates their constellation, suppressed emotions about relationships may be unearthed and analysed. A person can then explore their place within the group by rearranging them until they feel harmony. This may help to release inherited psychological patterns and to connect positively with the family lineage.

This alternative counselling approach was developed in the 1990s by former priest and German psychotherapist Bert Hellinger[2]. After spending 16 years as a missionary with the African Zulus, Hellinger was convinced that people take on their generational energy, thus impacting our beliefs, burdens and potential happiness. Hellinger developed family constellations by blending Freudian psychoanalysis[3], bodywork, family therapy[4], gestalt therapy[5] and tribal rituals. 

For therapy of the best quality, choose a qualified family constellations facilitator who has completed a certified course. The accredited Australian course[6] conducted over 12 days requires a pre-requisite status of already working in a field in which you can readily can apply constellation work. The Hellinger Institute offers a 12- module family constellations training[7] both in person and online. 

Benefits of family constellation

The family constellations process is designed to release limiting patterns from past and present relationships. A family constellations session can assist in exploring a range of personal issues[8] such as adoption, parenting, career, divorce, health and finances, as well as professional relationships. 

Due to the subjective therapeutic process and experiential nature of family constellations it is not an evidence-based approach. An academic review[9] of family constellations based on case studies suggest it may have a positive impact on reducing intergenerational trauma transmission by improving social relating. 

A study of family constellations seminars[10] concluded that they potentially improve individuals’ psychological functioning, psychological distress, motivational incongruence, and individuals’ experience in personal social systems. Another study[11] suggested family constellations could bring new solutions to unresolved emotional issues by approaching situations in an objective manner.

Family constellations may assist in relieving symptoms related to:

Anxiety Communication and self-expression Confidence and self-esteem Indecision Love and Relationships Mood imbalances PTSD and trauma Sadness Stress and tension Tantrums

What to expect from a family constellation session

A family constellations session may occur in a private or group setting where participants are not related to each other. Each  begins with the client being briefly interviewed about their problems. The aim of this is to identify the family members that may be crucial for maintaining the problem. Participants then take turns to explore their relationship dynamics and concerns. 

Group members represent a person or emotion. The person whose turn it is to explore their situation (seeker) will place the other group members (representatives) into an arrangement (constellation) and move them until they feel harmony. By observing the constellation from outside they can gain insights into issues. The facilitator repositions members and may ask them to share their feelings. 

The representatives are believed to be able to feel and experience the emotions of the person whose role they have taken on. Hellinger calls this sense of connectedness the ‘morphogenic field[12]’.  There may then be a feedback circle where everyone discusses the experience. 

A similar process takes place in private sessions with objects taking the role as representatives or clients visualising them. A single session is often considered sufficient to shed light on the concern and clear it. 

As with any wellness program, please consult your medical professional before commencing family constellations. If you have any concerns at all, also speak to your facilitator, who will be happy to address these and evaluate whether this is a suitable treatment for you.


  1. Family Constellations | GoodTherapy
  2. Family Constellation | Hellinger
  3. Psychoanalysis |
  4. What is Family Therapy? | Australian Association of Family Therapy
  5. Gestalt Therapy | Psychology Today
  6. Systematic Structural Family Constellation Training |
  7. Upcoming Family Constellations Training |
  8. What Issues can Family Constellations Help with? |
  9. Responding to intergenerational psychological trauma: A literature review paper on the place of Family Constellation Therapy | Psychotherapy and Counselling Journal of Australia
  10. Mid- and Long-Term Effects of Family Constellation Seminars in a General Population Sample | Family Process Journal
  11. The Principle of Feeling - the Method of Structural Systemic Constellations for Technical Problem Solving and Decision Making | Procedia Engineering
  12. Morphogenetic Fields of Body and Mind | Quantum University

Frequently asked questions

Family Constellation, also known as systemic constellations, is a therapeutic approach that helps individuals uncover, understand, and resolve relationship problems. It involves creating a representation or 'constellation' of family dynamics using objects or other people.

Family Constellation works by creating a physical representation of family dynamics through a constellation arrangement. Objects or individuals are used to represent real people in the individual's life. This process helps unearth and analyze suppressed emotions related to relationships.

The therapeutic effect of Family Constellation is achieved by reframing family dynamics and gaining a fresh perspective on relationships. As individuals create their constellations and explore their place within the group, they may release inherited psychological patterns and connect positively with the family lineage.

Yes, Family Constellation can assist in healing relationships. By exploring and rearranging the constellation to achieve harmony, individuals may gain insights into their family dynamics, leading to a better understanding of relationship challenges and potential resolutions.

How does Family Constellation therapy differ from other therapeutic approaches? Family Constellation therapy stands out by using physical representations to explore family dynamics. Objects or individuals are arranged to represent family members, offering a unique and experiential way to uncover hidden dynamics. Systemic Constellation Therapy includes similar approaches but extends beyond the family, applying similar principles to address systemic issues in various contexts such as organizations, communities, or personal systems.

Family Constellation is a specific form of systemic constellation therapy focused on uncovering, understanding, and resolving family-related issues. Systemic Constellation Therapy, on the other hand, is a broader term that encompasses various applications, including family, organizational, and structural constellations, addressing a wider range of systemic issues beyond the family.

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