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"We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiralling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies." ~Shirley Abbott
An Introduction to Family Constellations
Family Constellations is an experiential process that aims to release and resolve profound tensions within and between people. This work can be used to deal with interpersonal problems and issues such as addictions, psychiatric disorders, medical illnesses, adoption, grief and separation. Individuals who somehow feel held back from living life to their full potential will often benefit.
Family Constellations can:
• Have a healing effect and may open up new possibilities in family and work life;
• Provide experiences that address issues of purpose and meaning in life;
• Convey extraordinary human insights;
• Be helpful in resolving relationship and family issues particularly those that persist beyond the usual explanations and strategies for solving them.

The term "Family Constellations" was first used to refer to the phenomenon that each individual belongs to and is bonded in relationship to other members of his or her family system. Bert Hellinger, a German psychotherapist, developed Family Constellation work out of a mixture of systems therapy, family therapy, primal therapy, psychotherapy, group therapy, and phenomenology. It has been widely used in Europe since the early 1980s and is gaining widespread recognition all over the world.
Foundations of Family Constellations
Each of us belongs to a family system extending over several generations. When the family system is balanced, the individuals within it can receive the generational flow of love from those who came before them, and they can pass it on to those who follow. However, families can only function harmoniously in this way when each family member belonging to the system has an equally valued and respected place within it.

When an individual is "tied up" in the fate or business of another member of the extended family, we describe it as being entangled. Constellations reveal systemic entanglements between a person's family members. The term systemic entanglement denotes how a negative legacy can be passed down to succeeding generations, even if those affected now are unaware of the original event in the past.
Systemic entanglements occur when unresolved trauma has afflicted a family through an event such as:

• the untimely loss of a parent or child
• exclusion of a family member, including adoptions, miscarriages, stillbirths and abortions
• interrupted bonding between parent and child
• murder or suicide
• serious illness of a family member
• unresolved feelings towards former partners
• war experiences
• migration
• the presence of victims and perpetrators of crime and injustice
• family secrets

A constellation allows participants to see the underlying dynamics of problems and to start exploring them creatively. Thus people's perceptions change. They develop a new understanding of where their problems come from, and of what will help to resolve them.
Family Constellations Workshops
In each Workshop a member of the group can choose to explore a personal issue. The facilitator leads participants through the Constellation process in hope of discovering and releasing systemic entanglements. Generally, several participants will be given an opportunity to set up a Constellation in each Workshop. However other participants will often benefit from the work by simply observing or being representatives in the Constellations.
With the help of the Family Constellation process, it is possible to see the wider forces that are affecting the relationship system and the individual. New insights and understanding arise from seeing new dimensions of the particular issue. Individuals can find their "right place" and an authentic feeling of belonging. Others may be re-aligned to their unique purpose and experience renewed energy, passion and peace. Many begin to feel nourished at a deep level and experience acceptance and wholeness. A resolution is felt when the whole system begins to relax and gains its strength and vitality. Oftentimes, however, a constellation might not reach full resolution at the time, but rather a certain movement that creates momentum for healing over time.

It is expected that all workshop participants commit to a code of confidentiality regarding personal details and issues of other workshop participants. Deep personal disclosure is not usually necessary. If a participant does not wish to disclose a particularly sensitive piece of information during a workshop but feel it may be necessary to their constellation, they can inform the facilitator in private at any time.
Common reasons for attending a FCT Workshop
There is a range of different issues that participants in Family Constellations can find assistance with, including:

• Relationship issues between partners, parents and children
• Concern for the wellbeing of children
• Divorce and separation
• Adoption, miscarriage, abortion
• Addictions
• Loneliness, anxiety and depression
• Incest, rape, violence, murder
• Death, suicide, grief
• Painful emotional and behavioural patterns
• Understanding unconscious dynamics, and how they affect one's life
• Coming to terms with a difficult fate
• Releasing old restricting life patterns
• Experiencing renewed life energy
• Engaging positively and creatively with one's family
• Enhancing one's ability to fulfil their full potential
• Reaching success in personal and professional life
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