Family Constellation Case Study: The Concussion

by Samvedam Randles, LMHC, Dipl. Psych.

Blue butterfly emerging from cocoon, a metaphor for family constellation for physical illness.Our bodies are wise, and they are also deeply connected to our soul as well as the field that we move in and through. When we receive sudden or unwelcome messages from our bodies in the form of illnesses or accidents, we usually react with shock and annoyance. Most of us just want to get rid of painful symptoms as quickly as possible.

But these events tend to come with teachings and purpose. Constellations are a great tool to understand the learning that might be brought through physical symptoms.

Here is a recent example of listening to physical symptoms in Constellation Work.

One of the senior students in our Constellation Learning Circle, Chloe, suffered a fall on the ice in January and ended up with a concussion that left her quite incapacitated for some time. She had been a busy practitioner with a full private practice, and had to take a break from seeing people after her fall. She simply could not handle any stimulation.

Chloe had been on her own journey of personal growth and change through the constellation work and had been amazed at all the positive changes in her life. As a result of so much change, however, she felt unsure of her identity now. She seemed to be reconsidering much of what she liked (or did not like), even down to the simplest things, like foods she had once dismissed but now found appealing.

In the midst of this unfolding process of re-discovery, Chloe had the accident.

When she still could not fully re-engage in her life three months later, she became nervous and asked if we could do a constellation about this concussion.

I don’t like to disturb movements that are in process, so I felt cautious about setting up a constellation in this case, but I also attuned to Chloe’s anxiety and wanted to be helpful. We talked about what might be the right framework and checked in to see if we had permission to explore.

As I listened deeper, the field opened to a yes, and informed me, as it so often does, about how the constellation needed to be set up. I chose to keep it blind.

In blind constellations, the representatives are not informed about whom they are representing. They receive a piece of paper with the name of their representation, which they then put it in their pockets. They do not get to see what is on the paper. This removes from the constellation dynamic the possibility of interference from mental interpretations, allowing the representatives to completely immerse themselves into the felt sense of the relationships we are exploring.

So I wrote four papers and handed them out to representatives, whom Chloe then placed into our circle:

1. The Concussion
2. Who I Used to Be
3. Who I Am Becoming
4. Healing

What unfolded in the next 10 minutes or so kept us all in awe. Like a choreographed dance, people moved in silence until they found their right places.

And there we had, like a martial artist, the Concussion standing between two people with both hands forcefully outstretched to keep them at bay.

Uninvited, he spoke: “I feel so powerful! Like Solomon, I can pull the walls of the temple down!”

A clear and powerful presence that commanded obedience!

And the two women on each side (“Healing” and “Who I Used to Be”) did indeed obey the demand for separation, yet continued to look at each other, wishing to connect.

The only other representative (“Who I am Becoming”) stood nearby, observing intently, but did not move in.

That was our beginning image. It is always difficult to portray the impact of constellations in writing, as so much of what is happening is expressed by the feeling tone in the room and the presence of spirit. What occurred next was one of those inexplicable moments that felt like the arrival of spirit. It began with several birds outside singing the sweetest song… and the atmosphere softening in the room.

Our separating force, represented by the Concussion with his hands out in a “stop” motion towards “Healing” and “Who I Used to Be,” softened and relaxed his hands, and touched both women on their shoulders. This allowed them to feel more connected, and they eventually came together, at which point the Concussion slowly withdrew a few steps.

A Room Filled with Sweetness

As this healing occurred and “Who I Used to Be” could be integrated, the room filled with sweetness, and most people in the circle felt tears dripping down their faces. We can all feel when something real and powerful is happening. It touches our hearts in beautiful ways. This was the feeling in the room now.

As the facilitator I had not done anything as of yet, and now, I only asked the representative for the Concussion how he felt at this point. Keep in mind that he has no idea whom he is representing.

“I am still here. But I can’t stay forever!” was his reply.

This statement activated “Who I am Becoming.” She slowly moved closer to “Healing” and “Who I Have Been”.

She did not quite know how to find her right place, and tried standing on this side and that.

It felt clear that the movement is still in process. But it certainly also became clear that she wanted to be with those two.

At that point, the Concussion stepped back even further, and we closed the Constellation.

What came to my mind was an image of a caterpillar in its cocoon as it transforms into a butterfly. Time is needed, and trust that it will emerge the right way. Maybe even a Concussion can be helpful, to create the protected and peaceful space needed for such a delicate transformation in our busy world.

Chloe left with the sweetness of this constellation dancing in her heart, and with increased faith that all is just as it should be on her journey.