We all have a conscience and it’s very personal. It has been shaped since we were little children and provides us with a guide to what is right and wrong, moral and immoral, and actually causes us to feel we belong or excluded. All this depends on whether we are in line with the values and standards of the culture and code we have absorbed into ourselves. This becomes more complex as we belong to more and more worlds beyond our own family, such as circles of friends, work, clubs, social groups and others.
In Family Constellation we take the concept of ‘conscience’ and take it into a different dimension. It is no longer personal, but rather collective. It also has rules, just like the personal conscience, with the distinction that those rules apply to all family systems. They are universal regardless of cultural backgrounds.
The role of the collective conscience is to protect the family system by keeping it balanced and intact so that the love can flow. All families are a deep expression of love, while our behavior (mostly unconscious) serves the purpose of love. If we as individuals defy any one of these rules, entanglements follow. These entanglements often have immense effects on us and others belonging to our family system.
Through this unique and amazing therapeutic approach developed by the German psychotherapist Bert Hellinger, we can bring those very entanglements to light and solve them. We return love, respect and the right order to the family.
The three main rules governing the collective conscience are:
Belonging – every member of the family system has an equal right to belong no matter what he or she did, or what family members think of him. Those who are excluded in one way or another have a strong impact on the family.
Order – the order of arrival to the family is critical to honor. Entanglements happen when family members take the place that is not theirs. This often happens when children take on the role of a parent.
Balance – in every system there needs to be a balance between giving and taking, but also between actions and consequences. If someone relieves himself of his responsibility, someone else in the family will take it for him.
For this process, the actual members of the family do not need to be present. In a dynamic and revealing group process, the client who sets up his constellation uses participants in the group to represent relevant family members. The moment he places them in the room according to his intuition, he also transfers the ‘knowledge’ to these individuals. They start feeling and experiencing the sensations of the family members they represent.
This is a powerful and deep process that has no relation to psychodrama because there is no play or acting involved. We simply tap into the collective knowledge and reveal truth through it. At first, we receive a very clear picture of the current dynamics of the family and then begin the work of finding a resolution to the clients’ issue.But beyond the healing effect on this form of therapy, we can also learn much about love, relationships, respect and many other important values that shape and influence our lives, and that so often have been misinterpreted. We will look briefly at a few important areas of family life and understand them more deeply in the eyes of Family Constellation.
Parents give to their children (time, attention, caring, food, money, and more) and children receive from their parents. In all other forms of relating we will always seek balance, but between parents and children, there cannot be such balance. The child can never repay what parents give, while life itself represents the greatest gift of all. Due to this natural imbalance, children leave home at some stage and take care of their old parents to give them back some of what they’ve received.
Conflicts often arise when children cannot thank their parents for what they’ve received and wanted more or different things. As long as this dynamic remains, the adult will stay a child and cannot become an adult. The adult that has left the parents behind in gratitude for all he receive lives his own life with all consequences.
The partnership between man and woman
The love between the sexes is dependent on a balance of giving and receiving. One partner gives and the other receives, and vice versa. If there is growing exchange of giving and taking from both sides, the relationship deepens along with the love they share. It often happens that one partner only wants to give but not receive. In these cases, this partner usually wants to show that he is better and more powerful than the other. This imbalance creates conflict and resentment.
Another important and interesting dynamic in the love relationship is abortions. The birth of a child reflects the result of the love between two people. When a child is aborted because one partner doesn’t want the baby, he or she says ‘I don’t want you’. In essence, the relationship is over regardless of whether the couple decides to stay together or not. Family constellation holds no moral values and therefore no judgment is implied. A similar dynamic can be seen with sexuality. If one partner doesn’t want to have a sexual relationship with the other, the partnership is over as well.
These are just two areas in which Family Constellation Therapy reveals dynamics that create a complicating effect on the family system. There are many more dynamics that can be observed and also those that lead to illnesses. Once balance is restored and those have taken responsibility where it belongs, everyone finds his or her ‘right place’ back into the family system. Peace inside our souls follows.