Why do you do what you do? Why do your relationships keep getting stuck, or does the relationship with your family feel so difficult? Where does that feeling of guilt or insecurity come from? All those conscious and unconscious feelings stem from a system that you are often not even aware of: the inextricable bond with your family.
What are Family Constellations?
Habits and behaviors are passed on in every family. That ingrained pattern (the family system) can influence your happiness in life and can get in the way of your dreams. Family constellations are a form of systemic therapy that helps people explore their ties to their families, both past and present. It looks at the dynamics between family members and tries to solve any problems at deeper levels.
What is the purpose of a family constellation?
By examining the relationship with family members, both consciously and unconsciously, new perspectives can be gained on the way you relate to yourself and others. It also helps you understand why you behave or feel a certain way in certain situations. Ultimately, it gives you more insight into yourself so that you can make better decisions in all aspects of your life. You can increase your overall sense of well-being and happiness in this way.
How does a family constellation work?
You do a family constellation under the supervision of a psychologist or therapist with a group of participants who do not know each other and their life stories. This means that a family constellation does not consist of your real family. From the group of participants, you intuitively choose the substitutes for yourself, family members and/or other people you are connected to. We call these people representatives.
Once you have chosen the representatives, arrange them in the room as you think they should be in relation to each other. This space is called the ‘knowing field’. The moment the representatives are lined up, they experience the thoughts and emotions of the people they represent. Usually the facilitator questions the representatives about what they experience, feel or would like to do.
What can you experience?
Feelings, possible entanglements and (unexpected) tensions can present themselves and unfold. This can be an intense experience, bringing up unspoken expectations and hidden pain. It often also provides the representatives with valuable insights into their own questions, themes and subconscious connections. During the family count, what is stored in your subconscious can show itself and the system can be reordered in that way. A healthier and more positive system can be created.
Do you want to know what family constellations can do for you? Then you can get started right away to create the first insights. With the exercise below you can raise your awareness to a higher level and experience what a family constellation means.
Step 1. Collect the necessary objects .
Collect objects such as spoons, paperclips, matches or kitchen utensils. Choose objects that can represent your relatives, such as your father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, brothers, sisters, partner. And people you might not immediately think of, such as a half-sister, prematurely deceased infants and extramarital partners. If you don’t know if these are there or not, fine. Then the basic setup is sufficient. Set aside time and space for this exercise. Make sure you can get to work undisturbed and create space on a table.
Step 2. Then put yourself down first. Then the first person with whom you experience the most connection, then the second person, the third, and so on. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Where is my father? How is he towards me? Where does he stand in relation to my mother?
- Where is my mother? How does she relate to me? And towards my father?
- Who is watching whom? Are there people in front of each other or behind someone? Can everyone see each other? Do people look past each other? Who is not seen?
- Where are my brothers and/or sisters? How do they relate to me and each other?
- Where are my parents in relation to my brothers and/or sisters?
- Who is still missing?
Step 3. When you have finished placing the dolls, answer the following questions. When answering the questions, you can move the dolls around to see what that does to you and the relationships.
- What do you notice when you look at the attitude of the different people?
- Who is closest to you? Who is left out?
- Why do you think that person is exactly in that place?
- Did you forget someone?
- Who did you miss?
- Who did you miss?
- How does that person feel in that place? Pleasant or not? Does love flow optimally?
- What does that person think of that position?
- Who is far from you?
- What do you think of this? And what does the other think about this? Justifiably? Fine? Healthy?
- Would you like to be closer to this person? Or that person with you?
- How does that feel?
- In what direction do the different people look?
- What strikes you when you look at the setup? To your place and that of others?
- What would you like to change? What would be the ideal setup for you?
- How is that?
- How could you bring about a (small) change in your family? Is there anyone you can discuss this with? Is there anyone you would like to write a letter to or talk to?