Originally referred to as the Family Constellation Work of Bert Hellinger, SCW is an experiential process resulting in the revelation and resolution of underlying, often hidden dynamics that can limit — and promote — our ability to live the healthiest and most successful life possible.
What is the format?
Facilitators offer constellation sessions in group settings and also individual sessions (in person, by phone or via Skype.)
Who can benefit?
Anyone willing to look at the possible systemic sources of an issue can benefit from SCW. SCW addresses personal and organizational issues including blocks to creative expression, money issues, relationship problems, addictions/compulsions, illnesses, low morale and recurring systemic problems like accident-proneness, business failure, attrition, even depression and suicide.
Where is it done?
SCW has been evolving in practice around the world for about thirty years. In North America, over the last fifteen years, it has gained momentum as an efficient method among intervention modalities. Developed in this format by Bert Hellinger (German author, philosopher and psychotherapist www.hellinger.com. SCW has evolved from working at the level of the family to working with organizations, businesses and sometimes entire social systems.
How does it work for individuals?
SCW states the principle that everyone in a system, whether family or organizational, has his/her own place and therefore belongs. A person is excluded from the system when something traumatic happens (premature death, psychiatric illness, living a taboo lifestyle) and those in the system who experience such painful losses often protect themselves from their intense grief by excluding from the family memory those who have been ‘lost’. In an effort to maintain balance, and out of love for the family, someone else will unconsciously come to stand in their place. This entanglement means that this person is not as free to live his/her own life.
Example : the grandmother of a client had committed suicide years prior; the client’s parent was unable to fathom this loss and could not speak of the parent, or of the event which ended her life. The client has been experiencing long-term depression and in the course of an unfolding Constellation is seen to be very connected to the grandmother. The simple action of re-connecting with the grandmother (taking her back into the family soul, as it were), results in feelings of great relief, a sense of renewed wholeness and reconciliation for the client in connection to other family members and to Life itself. Such is the amazing and seemingly magical strength of the “Knowing Field,” the energetic space encompassing each system, whether familial or organizational.
SCW allows for profound healing for individuals and for their family systems when seen with this unique approach.
How does it work in organizations?
SCW used for business and organizational purposes can provide a wider ‘zoom-out’ lens to reveal dynamics caused by a past event that are presenting symptoms, for example with product failure or within human resource conflicts. Frequent firings, or employees leaving within a certain department are tendencies seen to be systemically connected and therefore, with this approach, resolvable. During some organizational constellations a family issue may arise with an individual, at which time the facilitator is best to advise the group that the impetus has now changed and a decision may be made whether to continue on this new track or open the issue privately with that individual. Family-run business adds another level of complexity within the organizational system. Awareness of whom in the family/business came first and who is giving versus taking are appropriate queries into the current dynamics.
The original German word was “Aufstellung ” which means “placement, assembly.” Because this word did not translate well into English, the word Constellation became widely used to indicate the setting up of people (called “representatives”) in a visual way, the first step in the SCW process.
What is the process?
When a client decides to “set up a Constellation” for him/herself about a current issue the following general procedure unfolds:
- The Facilitator asks the client a few questions to clarify the number of representatives needed to address the issue and what resources might be helpful in doing so; very little information needs to be relayed about the actual issue.
- The Client chooses workshop participants to represent the family members or organizational entities (these can be parents, siblings, co-workers, even abstract elements like ‘work’, ‘money’ ‘illness’, etc.), and are placed by the client in the room in relationship to one another. The client will also place a representative for him/herself. This reveals the starting image of what the client unconsciously knows about the situation;
- The Facilitator and the client observe what takes place as, over time, the representatives report what they are feeling and may want to shift their positions accordingly, resulting in their finding the place where they feel best. The Facilitator may test out where the Constellation needs to go by adding additional representatives, as needed. The process can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and even more in some cases.
- The Facilitator may ask the client if s/he feels ready to take the place where his/her representative has been in the constellation to further anchor the new image and strengthen what has been brought to light. Along with standing in the ‘new place’, speaking some words/sentences of resolution can offer the client new beginnings on many levels. When all feel well in their final position in the Constellation — everyone in the circle will also feel the calm, depth, relief and release — the Constellation is usually felt to be completed and is left exactly at that point. Some resolutions may have occurred, in subtle or dramatic form or, as is sometimes the case, the movements may simply have revealed certain dynamics or allegiances among the representatives.
Facilitators have their own style of facilitating and bring their own particular strengths and skills to SCW. Many combine more than one aspect of healing work, depending on their background, training, personality and proclivities.
Facilitators offer Constellations in a group format (the group can be small or very large) and individually – in person, by phone or via Skype. The group format is powerful for everyone attending — the client, the representatives and those who witness the process. For some clients, working one-to-one is preferred as it is a more private means to uncover what can be surprising revelations in a family’s hidden dynamics. One-to-one constellations can successfully make use of the clients’ internal imagery, tabletop materials, floor mats, chairs, pillows and other objects for representations of family dynamics and ensuing shifts.