Gestalt Therapy International

A community of dialogue

Programs around the world

Facilitating authentic living & working

10 Professional Workshops Available

#1 Personal Growth & Spiritual Growth

#2 The Unvirtues: A non-shaming exploration of self-interest in relationship

#3 Shame and Belonging

#4 Leadership and Power

#5 Family Constellations

#6 Authentic Dialogue

#7 Gestalt process oriented model of working with couples and families

#8 Phenomenology and the therapeutic use of awareness

#9 Field Theory

#10 Gestalt therapy

#5 Introduction to Family Constellations

Content of the activity and a detailed outline of the event

The Constellation Approach originates from the methodology of systemic therapy which looks at life as a whole versus isolated incidents of pain. By viewing family situations with a wider lens, we gain insights into the deeper reasons things occur.

Out of love and loyalty, we often unconsciously carry the traumas and destructive patterns of our ancestors, which may manifest in our daily lives as unresolvable personal problems and relationship issues.

Systemic Constellations are a method for revealing and re-aligning hidden loyalties in family, business, or other kinds of tightly bonded groups. People have taken on, often without being aware of it, “assignments” to function in a certain way in the groups they belong to—especially in the family. Yet often these assignments are in conflict with their personal health or fulfilment. They serve as anchors — unseen sticking points — that prevent positive change. Constellations make these anchors visible. 

The approach was originally developed by Bert Hellinger in the 1970’s, and combines a number of influences:

  • Field theory
  • Phenomenology
  • Psychodrama
  • Spirituality
  • Structural family therapy

Field theory is a way of understanding individual experiences as being part of an large interconnected whole. So the problems an individual faces can be seen in the context of not only their experiences growing up, but also dynamics which occurred with their grandparents or even further back in the family.

Phenomenology involves attention to the obvious rather than the abstract and theoretical. This entails investigating direct experience – sensory perception and internal body sensations, rather than making sense of things by interpretation and abstract meaning making.

Psychodrama refers to the embodied expression of stuck situations; the focus is on gaining insight in a dynamic way rather than through explanation and once-removed description.

Spirituality comes into constellation work in the appreciation of subtle forces which lead us to growth and development, and discovering that which allows love to flow in families.

Structural family therapy is interested in where people are placed in the family, and how that is helpful or unhelpful to the growth and development of individual members.

A typical session starts with a participant:

  • naming their issue and the basic facts about their family
  • selecting other workshop members to represent people in their family
  • placing those people in relation to each other in the room

The facilitator then

  • asks representatives about their experience
  • follows where the energy of the family and individuals seems to be moving
  • asks representatives to repeat short sentences which essentially acknowledge basic truths about the family
  • moves representatives into a more functional structure where possible
  • invites the person whose issue it was to step into their place in the reformed constellation

The effect of participating in and witnessing this type of work is very powerful. With a minimum of dialogue, significant transformations can occur, and these can be long lasting.

The workshop will be conducted using experiential demonstration work, interspersed with an overview of the theory, with connections drawn to each individual piece.

The theory and practice of a systemic orientation will be elucidated and the points of connection to field theory and other systemic modalities will be highlighted.

Discussion will be facilitated with participants as to applications to a range of therapeutic situations

Learning outcomes

By the conclusion of this seminar participants will be able to:

  • Understand the systemic approach of Family Constellations to uncovering and working with hidden family loyalties
  • Understand how to work with structural issues in family dynamics
  • Understand the systemic principles at work behind a range of individual symptoms
  • Apply a contextual perspective to a client’s presenting issues
  • Understand the therapeutic use of conversation-as-ritual
  • Understand working with social trauma and its impact on individuals

Seminar schedule

Contextual background to the theory and practice of constellations

Outline of the procedure

Cycles of:

  • Experiential demonstration work in the group
  • Deconstruction, questions, discussion

Wrap up, check out

How will participants benefit from attending this seminar?

  • Learn to recognise hidden family entanglements
  • Gain insight into the contextual dimensions of individual problems
  • Understand the way family loyalties shape client’s symptomatology
  • Learn about a way to work with complex intergenerational family dynamics

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