What does it mean to belong? Why is it so important to belong? These are very personal questions, with answers that are equally as personal. The bottom line, however, is that we are human and are meant to engage with the world and the people in it, in some meaningful way. Without some sense of belonging we would feel unsafe, rejected and very alone. Our first sense of belonging starts with our family. Our beliefs about what that belonging means are generally formed during our first 7 years of our lives. We subconsciously ‘take on’ the beliefs and patterns of our parents and siblings, which they would have learnt or ‘taken on’ from their parents and siblings and so on. This perpetuates family patterns, both positive and negative. Often, present-day issues are due to unresolved traumas experienced by previous generations of the family, waiting to be healed. Because most of these patterns are subconscious, they are not always easy to identify. We may see their influence in our lives, but we may not understand why they are there or how to heal them. One of the methods I have found to be extremely valuable in my own healing is Family Constellations; an experiential modality, which helps identify and clear those patterns.
One of the principles in Family Constellations is that everyone has an equal right to belong. Should anyone be excluded from the family for any reason, it will result in imbalances and patterns which affect the individual and the family system. An example of this would be people who have been adopted. They could have deep feelings centred around not knowing where they belong, even if they have been fully accepted and loved by their adopted family. Family members rejected for not adhering to family rules and traditions are another example.
Some of the other principles in Family Constellations are:
- The early death of a family member has a strong effect on the whole system.
- Children often take on feelings from other family members.
- Children are loyal to their parents.
What is Family Constellations
Family Constellations is rooted in the psychotherapeutic tradition. However, the method differs from conventional psychotherapy. The client does little speaking and the modality is experiential in form (either in a group or on a one-on-one basis).
History of Family ConstellationsFamily constellations was developed by a German psychotherapist, Bert Hellinger. He dedicated 25 years of his life to the Priesthood, 16 years of which were spent in South Africa as a missionary in Natal. After leaving the Priesthood, he began psychoanalytic training in Vienna. He developed an interest in Gestalt Therapy, as well as Transactional Analysis and Family Therapy. These influences, amongst others, resulted in the formation of Family Constellations.