Family Constellation Work
By Christine McMaster, MA and
Sharon Lund, author, minister, international speaker



There is an old Yugoslav saying that goes something like this:  “When the grandfathers eat sour grapes, the grandsons drink sour wine.” Out of love for our parents we unconsciously take on their suffering, believing that doing so would actually relieve them. Though our intention is to give relief, this human tendency to want to sacrifice ensures the continuation of suffering from one generation to the next. According to Bert Hellinger, developer of Family Constellation Work, blessings are meant to flow from parent to child, not suffering.

Family Constellation Work began in Germany some 30 years ago by renowned psychotherapist Bert Hellinger. Prior to developing this approach to family resolution, he worked intimately with the Zulu tribes of Africa.

Hellinger observed what he understood to be a “group conscience” (also known as “tribal conscience” — Carolyn Myss). Within the framework of “group conscience”, tribes remained in balance and harmony through the facilitation of the elders. Using principles of justice, love and respect, the natural flow of love in the tribal lineage is available to all. In this way each tribal member lives an authentic life.

In the West, our tribe is our family. Coupled with his therapeutic training, Hellinger formulated an approach tapping into the living field of knowledge that is our “family conscience”. In the workshop each participant has the opportunity to affirm his/her “heart’s desire”. The ultimate question is: What is keeping one from creating it in his or her life?  The answer can be found in the “family conscience”. Using these same principles of justice, love and respect, this work resolves entanglements that are affecting generations today.

Behind suffering there is the motive of love. In witnessing such pure intent and the pain that has been caused from entanglement, we experience compassion and respect for our ancestors. We give them their dignity by accepting what is, as it is. We honor them by letting go of the need to fix anything for them. As a result, the power, joy and gifts hidden in our family lineage flow into our lives. From there we can make new choices and let go of the old ways.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to drag your whole family to this workshop! The FC workshop is for the individual and is not traditional family group therapy. This work is a subtle, non-intrusive approach to resolving one’s suffering without rehashing our old wounds. I have the honor of sponsoring internationally-renowned therapist, Claus Kostka, a Family Constellation facilitator. He has held a practice for twenty years and studied under Bert Hellinger in Germany. He visits the states annually to hold FC workshops, and his work is a source of deep heartfelt change in the lives of participants.
Here is Sharon’s experience:

“In my sacred life, I have faced nine years of childhood sexual abuse, anorexia, and the deaths of my two beloved brothers in their twenties. I have been living with HIV/AIDS for 22 years, and I have had two near-death experiences. Throughout the years, I have learned to embrace my challenges because they have lead me to who I am today.

Family Constellation work-shops were different from anything I had ever heard of. My mind couldn’t quite grasp it, but my spirit knew I had to experience it. If there were a way to break a destructive cycle without pain, blame, shame, guilt or suffering, I had to leap at the opportunity.

At the workshop, I expressed my “heart’s desire” to Claus and the group, which was to have the strength and health to fulfill my life purpose. Claus asked me to choose representatives amongst the workshop participants to stand in for certain members of my family, including myself. After placing each person, I sat down and watched the constellation unfold.

I was amazed how objective this process is. The representatives were feeling and taking on the posture and personality of my family, without knowing any details. With few words spoken, movement and energy shifted right before me. I could observe the suffering and misunderstandings, and “look at it” without “being in it”. Walls between members of my family began dissolving, and I was witnessing the love that has always been there.

As the process unfolded, I found it easier to breathe and felt my chest expand. I realize that I no longer have to carry this family burden of suffering. I now embrace my entire lineage with love and respect. I no longer hold onto judgment, hate, or resentment towards any of my family. Isn’t it love that truly heals?

As a representative in other constellations, I viscerally stepped into the feelings and knowing of the family members I was representing. The human experience is more common than we think. What I have seen happen in  the Family Constellation workshops is that each participant felt, understood and witnessed something that reflected a part of their life which was being effortlessly healed.

After the workshops I noticed a profound shift in my relationship with my father; bickering stopped and I looked forward to spending precious time with him. I have a renewed self confidence, able to be myself naturally. I now accept my role and place in my family lineage, and take responsibility for my life and well-being. I experienced that we are all connected.

Newly inspired to express myself again, I have a burning desire to complete my books and get them published. I embrace a new sense of inner peace, as an underlying depression was lifted. More than anything, I am experiencing a deeper compassion, love and understanding for my entire lineage, as I reclaim and unite my family within.”  

Join us in San Diego January 27-29 for another Family Constellation Workshop, facilitated by Claus Kostka. Call Christine at (760) 505-4559 or e-mail:   

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