Frequently Asked Questions about Family Constellations

How can the dead have an influence on me?

We are made up of our biological ancestors’ chromosomes. If we can accept the transmission of physical features, why not also the transmission of those features pertaining to the emotional life of our grandparents. Indeed, we are woven with all what our ancestors have done. What they left unaccomplished falls on us and our descendants, with the hope that someone will finish it. But transmission is not all, what we do has a repercussion on the dead also. We are all, the living and the dead, interconnected.

Why do you have to say sentences that you do not feel?

An emotion is created by a thought. If we release the thought that underlies an emotion, we do not need to go through that emotion, and it disappears by the mere fact of pronouncing the words or the thought that caused it.

Sentences serve two objectives: to reveal the blocked emotion that has not been assumed, and which is creating an entanglement between an ancestor and the person, and to release a parasitic emotion that has been adopted from another relative.

Can you constellate for someone else?

Parents are in their own right to constellate for their children. Let us remember that the child IS his parents’ symptom. Thus, to constellate for a son or daughter is to constellate for ourselves and our child.

Regarding constellating for another person that is not a son or daughter, the principle is that we cannot do it. Who are we to decide what another person should constellate? Who are we to interfere with her fate? However, experience tells us that in some cases, very few, the Energy, the field, takes us in its service to alleviate, or change the course of some of another person’s burden. So, how do we know if we can do it or not? We ask that person’s fate for permission to constellate for her and we strictly abide by the response. Anything else would be dangerous for all involved –the person constellated, the person who requests the constellation, the constellator. Forcing fate has a high price.

Can children constellate?

No. According to my experience, the answer is no. Children have their parents’ fate. Who ought to constellate for the children is their parents. The proof lies in the fact that a child that attends a constellation either falls asleep (he shall not witness it) or becomes restless and anxious. A child has no capability for autonomy, he can only obey the invisible loyalties he is subjected to. Anything the parents do to liberate themselves will liberate their child. Moreover, we know that when a child judges his parents, and finds out about their secrets or their disorders, this has disastrous consequences.

I have so many matters to constellate, I don’t know which one to choose.

Are you sure you want to make changes to your life?

To be under pressure, to be worried or to feel overwhelmed because of having many matters for a constellation is only a more or less conscious way to avoid confronting the core, the deepest pattern, the common meaning to all those matters.

Could you constellate your current family and your family of origin and would then everything become ordered?

Links and entanglements are known by their effects, one cannot anticipate them, it is ineffective.

These constellations may be done to put order. However, this does not get rid of the web of links we have, links that enter into effect at different times in our lives, according to anniversary dates, memories of places, fates we come across, etc.

How often can you have a constellation?

Initially Hellinger used to say that once in a life time. Later on, he said that it was necessary to wait at least two months between every constellation, and after that, he did not provide a time limit anymore.

What I observe is that there is no rule. It is often necessary to wait some time after the first constellation. Another observation is that the waiting time between one constellation and another is becoming significantly reduced.

Can you tell your constellation?

You can tell the constellation to someone close, sharing with her the film of the facts and feelings. However, analyzing it, rationalizing it, has negative effects during the first few days after it took place.

The less we talk about a constellation, the better, since it is over, and what we are describing is not anymore. Talking about it makes the energy go back to the moment in which the constellation unfolded.

Are constellations compatible with other therapies?

Yes, completely. One realises that with constellations there is not so much need for a long psychotherapy, where support is needed, but there is a need for occasional support with brief therapies. For instance, energy based therapies are very efficient just after a constellation. Humanist psychotherapies, therapies for the release or integration of trauma, are often necessary and are usually brief therapies.

What is the process after a constellation like?

Every process is different. We may experience greater strength, greater peace or greater happiness from the start. We may feel weird for a few hours or a few days. The symptom that has been constellated may disappear in a spectacular way, or gradually, or actually get worse before disappearing.

You start noticing, in you and those that surround you, subtle and unexplained changes.

All what is experienced in a constellation is lived again in real life, sometimes in a few hours (often in dreams), sometimes in months, depending on the significance of the change.

The changes that take place by means of a constellation are very deep, and need many months to make their way. The great spiritual traditions speak of one or two years for the radical change to settle.

Can you constellate the same matter twice?

It is usually stated that you should not constellate the same matter twice. However, it is not that you should not, but that if that is the case, it means something. Maybe the matter is being put in too generic a way; remember that the matter shall be put in the most concrete way possible. If a concrete issue repeats, that means that something relating to the person’s current life is interfering with her attunement to the family conscience and her own fate, something like a trauma that has not been integrated or guilt that has not been assumed. The appropriate course of action would then be to work on that interference with some other type of therapy in order to sort out the block.

Do you need to be a believer in order to constellate?

No, not at all. Rather, the constellations work is going to strip us of our archaic beliefs –beliefs that emerged in our childhood to relieve us of fear, loneliness, or guilt and beliefs we got out of loyalty to our system; beliefs that allow us feel members of a family, a social class, a history.

As we grow up, we notice that we gradually abandon restrictive, elitist, excluding beliefs: ‘this is good, one must do this, that is right, that is beautiful, that is worthy…’ With these judgments, we reject all those who do not meet our expectations for being ‘the bad ones, the ugly or despicable ones’.

And we gradually start to adopt ‘inclusive’ beliefs: ‘every human being deserves respect’, ‘every human being deserves compassion’, and so on.

Constellations, quantum therapy par excellence, bring us closer to another dimension, in the same way quantum physics do: energy is thought in action. We are energy. We are thought in action. Where does that thinking come from? We are organised into systems (body system, family system, health system, economic system, etc.) Is this thinking pre-systemic?

By way of physically representing the members of a family, Hellinger was able to grasp the meaning of those representatives’ movements: there is a level of very slow, very deep, movement, prior to emotions, which is the manifestation of the unconscious, invisible, forces that direct the bonds among the living and the dead.

Constellations are the graphic representation of dynamics that go beyond our rational understanding. Definitions such as believer, atheist, esoteric, do not hold much meaning within this context, since it is just a matter of watching and discovering. And in order to watch and to discover, to ‘acknowledge what is’, there is no other choice but to abandon for a moment our previous beliefs.

According to Hellinger, what is the most important? What is the meaning of life?

Nothing is more important than anything else. Everything is equally valuable simply by the fact of being there.

Only he who is not in tune with life wonders about its meaning.

The meaning of life is to live. To live and to help live. To live, not to survive, even in survival conditions.

Brigitte Champetier de Ribes
Instituto de Constelaciones Familiares (Family Constellations Institute)

Article published in Espacio Humano, June 2008.