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FAQs about Family Constellation Workshops
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Many of us find ourselves repeating undesired emotions or behaviors, and cannot understand why they keep interfering with our happiness.
Repeated failed relationships, anxiety, depression or addiction patterns can be hard to shake if you cannot find the origins of these symptoms and do not understand why they show up in your life the way they do.
The same is true for illness and other symptoms that express in ways you do not understand.
Family Constellation work looks for the “why” of all these patterns.
Frequently, repeated patterns of unhappiness and failure come out of a deep connection, love and loyalty to our families of origin. It sounds strange, but it is true, even for those who feel alienated from their family.
Unresolved trauma, unfinished business, or unexpressed pain or shame in family systems move forward into the next generations. This has now been proven by epigenetic research around the world. (See this article in Discover Magazine to understand epigenetics and emotions.)
Carl Jung already understood this when he said:
“It often seems as if there were an impersonal karma within a family, which passes on from parents to children. It has always seemed to me that I had to … complete, or perhaps continue, things which previous ages had left unfinished.”
In our Family Constellations workshops you can explore whether you are entangled in generational suffering and holding unconscious loyalties to loved ones that keep your life bound to their unfinished emotional business
Maybe you carry your mother’s anxiety or your father’s shame of failure? You may be repeating the emotional experience of an excluded family member, in an unconscious attempt to bring them back home into the family. Once unconscious dynamics come to light, you have a chance to change them and a deep shift can unfold.
Our workshops are open to anybody who is willing to open their mind, heart and felt-sense to explore this modality. It requires respect, humility and the willingness to be vulnerable. It is recommended that you observe and experience the process before presenting an issue.
In other words, you are welcome to come and participate without presenting anything.
It is not necessary to bring any family members, but you are welcome to do so if you wish to.
The workshops are also open to health care professionals and many report that this work informed a change in the way they perceive their clients and how to understand their issues.
(not an exhaustive list):
- The Function of Illnesses
- Relationship Issues
- Money Issues
- Eating Disorders
- Mental Illness
- Family Estrangement
- Violence in families
- Repeating traumas or accidents
Read How Family Constellations work to better understand some of these issues.
Here’s a set of questions to help you prepare for Family Constellation work. Click here to download.
While Family Constellation work can be done individually, it is most powerful in a group setting.
We form a circle of people, introduce ourselves, and attune to each other and the issues that are brought to the workshop.
Once a client presents an issue, the whole group comes into service to this person’s family system, and we begin.
The facilitator determines what path to take and asks group members to act as representatives for the client’s family members.
The client places each representative intuitively in the space, determining where they will stand in relation to one another. Unlike in a role-play, these representatives are asked to simply stay present and experience what it is like to be in this particular place, in this particular family system.
We sit in silence as the process begins to unfold.
With the facilitator’s help, people in the circle quietly move to find the “right place” for themselves in this particular family system. As they do, the dynamics and underlying issues of the past begin to emerge.
They become visible, with each family’s energy field revealing a unique formation born of its unique history.
The facilitator follows the movements that appear, and soon has a diagnostic image of what might have occurred in this family’s past that requires healing.
The facilitator may ask representatives how they are feeling. More often, the needed information appears in the representatives’ body language, in a keenly felt atmosphere in the room, or in the client’s reaction to what shows itself.
Example of a Constellation Unfolding
For example, if all representatives feel drawn to focus on one space in the room or to look at the floor, we can be quite sure that there is another person needed as a representative. This new representative joins the group to represent whoever or whatever they are focusing on.
Once this representative is added, the group reassembles itself into a new arrangement, and hidden entanglements come to light.
The facilitator observes the client to see whether the constellation resonates emotionally. Is the client fully engaged and does he/she understand the dynamics that have been identified?
Most of the time the client will feel as though a veil has been removed from his/her eyes. This is because we are often unconsciously aware of what ails our family systems, even though we may never have consciously understood or acknowledged it.
Once we understand the past, we are free to focus on the future.
The Healing Process
Sometimes a constellation moves from the diagnostic phase straight into the healing phase all by itself, but more frequently the facilitator needs to help shift the old familiar patterns.
How is this done?
This looks different in each constellation, but may involve moving representatives into a different position and waiting to see how that affects the system.
For example: If there was an unexpected death in the family and the representative for the spouse is unable to look at this, that spouse’s unexpressed grief is most likely being expressed by somebody else in the system; often by a child.
The facilitator may gently turn the representative for that spouse to face the representative of the deceased. We want to see if the unprocessed grief can now be released and acknowledged. If the grief is fully felt by the right person, the next generation does not have to try to process it.
Another tool to move a family system to balance is the use of healing sentences.
These are carefully chosen sentences that acknowledge what happened and introduce new perspectives. They may be accompanied by small rituals such as bowing.
The goal is to allow love that is inherent in most families to flow freely again, and have each person find their rightful place in this system.
Once that is found, there tends to be a great sense of relief and connectedness in the family system that is felt throughout the circle. In ways we do not fully understand, the changes experienced in the workshop setting are also experienced by members of the client’s family who are not present. This has been confirmed repeatedly in decades of work with Family Constellations.
Often, the issue that a client presents is a symbolic key to what we end up exploring. In this case, a surface complaint may reveal a seemingly unrelated deeper dynamic.
I am starting to write up some of the cases I have worked with and will continue to add to this list as time permits.