Systemic Constellations Explained

Family constellation explained by New Paths Psychology

The Method of Systemic Constellations

Systemic Constellations is a method that assists us in finding what is needed to resolve pressing problems.

Systemic constellations is best done in a group of participants, who normally are not related in any form, and in most cases do not even know each other. A Systemic Constellation is created by group participants being asked to represent either a family member or a coworker of the issue holder (the person who is asking for help). The spatial set up of the representations actually helps us find hidden factors that maintain the current issues.

Each Systemic Constellation begins with the client being briefly interviewed about the problem that brought him/her to the workshop. The aim of this interview is to identify e.g. the family members that seem to be critical for maintaining the problem. Once identified, participants from the group being selected by the client.

They are being intuitively positioned in the room and in relation to each other by the client, under guidance from the facilitator. Everything is done in a mindful, slow and focused way, to ensure subconscious material can surface when the time is right.

In an atmosphere of mindfulness and stillness the constellation unfolds and disharmony becomes visible. Often for the first time, the family dynamic is expressed and truth comes to light. Bear in mind, that the representatives hardly speak, nor do they know the family they represent or the story  behind it. On the contrary, the less representatives know about the system they represent, the sharper and more convincing the constellation is for the client and can become a deep experience.

Why does Systemic Constellation work so well?

(1) “You cannot not communicate” said Paul Watzlawick, a reknowned psychologist.

We are always communicating, both verbally with words or non-verbally with gestures, tone of voice and facial expressions. The non-verbal aspect of communication is in fact much more important than the content of the words. Humans decode the non-verbal communication to generate information about how the sender relates to us. For instance, the tone of our voice can communicate anger, and we might feel controlled by the other person. Generally speaking, we are able to perceive underlying emotions in others (irrespective of the words being used, right?!). In fact, we have fine antennas that allow us to gauge how other people view and relate to us. Can we trust the other? Do I have to defend myself? Do we feel appreciated, respected or loved? Do we feel despised by the other person? Our biological equipment (aka “Body”) allows us to immediately sense these factors that are so crucial when forming relationships with others.

(2) The memory is often unconscious yet accessible

We know from trauma research that psychological hurt is stored in the body often over many years, sometimes decades. We see it all the time in workshops, that pain that was thought to be long gone, resurfaces. This opens the chance to work with the pain and help to integrate (to use a technical term). Systemic Constellations is really the best tool I know that supports the work with unconscious memory. It has an amazing capacity of sensing relationship and improving quality. Our bodily perception is a priceless helper in this work.

Often, we can catalyse a process in only one workshop when the main dynamic becomes visible.  For some it is surprising to see, that we do not speak very much, compared to talking therapies. It is also not required that participants share their full story, just a couple of facts and circumstances, which also protects the integrity of the issue holder. The group supports the person by being present.  As people very quickly discover that their own suffering is similar in others as well, it comes natural to participants to keep things confidential. Groups work really well also as addendum to individual therapy.