Founder of Family Constellations
Bert Hellinger is considered to be one of the most innovative and influential therapists in the world today. He has synthesized years of training and experience with many modalities into the approach he developed and called Family Constellations. 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 and experienced combat, capture and imprisonment as a prisoner of war of the Allies.
At age 20 he became a Jesuit priest, spending 16 of his 25 years in the priesthood as the headmaster of a missionary school for the Zulu in South Africa. During his time in South Africa, he was exposed to the interracial ecumenical training in group dynamics led by the Anglican ministry. 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. Extrapolating various aspects of all his major influences, 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 is continually evolving with the recent unfoldment of "Movements of the Spirit" and "Movements of the Spirit-Minds."
Introduction to Family Constellations
Family Constellations is a method that allows what is hidden to come to light. The person seeking answers or solutions to their problem/issue chooses representatives for his/her family members from those present in the group. Then he/she "sets them up" in relationship to one another in the center of the working space or circle. From this first glimpse into the family system, we can often see a disconnection between the family members that need to be reconnected.
At any point in a family system a disconnection or separation creates an energy blockage that does not allow the energy to flow freely from one generation to the next. The family constellation not only allows the disconnection to become visible, but also it is a vehicle through which the reconnection of the family members can take place. Specific words or phrases and certain movements allow the energy to flow. When it does so, everyone in the room can experience the release of the tension that became apparent in the family constellation.