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SYSTEMIC FAMILY CONSTELLATIONS

Systemic Constellation Therapy is a profound therapeutic modality that explores the hidden dynamics, entanglements, and interconnections within systems such as families, organizations, and communities, but also within the inner 'systems' of personality parts of a single individual. 

By bringing these dynamics to light, we create opportunities for resolution, clarity, and profound shifts towards a more balanced and harmonious existence.

For more information on Family Constellations and on our services,

please see our special website:

 

Systems Theory

Systemic Constellation Therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach that looks at any psychological – mental, emotional, relational , behavioral – issue as a systemic phenomenon. It is a uniquely effective technique to understand not only the deeper dynamics of an individual person, but those of couples, families, businesses, and organizations as well.

Today, one of the basic paradigms of all science, economics, finance, ecology, as well as medical and mental health is Systems Theory.

Systems Theroy is based on the idea that nothing exists in isolation. Everything lives in continuous interrelationship and interaction with its surroundings – i.e. everything is part of complexly intertwined and interdependent systems. 

According to the basic rules of Systems Theory, systems are both more and different than their constituting parts, and the rules governing a system overrule those of its parts.

All systems are part of a larger system while composed of smaller systems, and the various systems interact with one another on different levels. 

Systems, therefore, cannot fully be understood from their parts. Neither can a part – e.g. an individual human being – be understood without the various internal and external systems which it is a part of.

Psychologically, we are a psycho-somatic system in which our body, mind, emotions, thought processes, behaviors, the different parts of our personality mutually influence and determine each other.
We live in an endlessly complex web of external (environment, society, etc.) and internal (body, mind, personality parts, etc.) systems – and our problems are also parts of these very same systems.

Since the emergence of system-based thinking around the middle of the last century, human behavior in general and our psychological problems in particular have also been approached from this distinctly new perspective.
Group, family and couples therapies tend to focus on our external, whereas individual therapies on our internal systems.
However, our internal and external systems are inseparable.

In the world of modern psychotherapy today, basically all modalities are founded on systemic principles.

Systemic Family Constellations

Systemic Family Constellations can reveal unconscious family dynamics, transgenerational influences, and other ’systemic’ entanglements with a unique plasticity and an unprecedented emotional impact.
It also provides a distinct perspective into the complex ‘systems’ and conflicting parts of our personality, our career, and our business endeavors.

Systemic Constellations usually lead to profound insights and cathartic experiences, and shed light on areas of our unconscious landscapes that other techniques had never revealed with such clarity before.

Originally, Bert Hellinger's Family Constellations work concentrated on the unique potential of this technique to reveal transgenerational traumas, family secrets, unconscious bonds and entanglements in our extended families – complications that might lie at the root of some of our emotional and psychological issues today.

As Siegmund Freud’s classic method revealed how our early experiences keep influencing us throughout our lives, Bert Hellinger’s technique seemed to cast light on the influences that our multi-generational family – our most important human “system” – exerts over us. 

When German psychotherapist Bert Hellinger developed his systemic techniques in the 1990s, his work conquered Europe with the speed of a revolution. 

However, as more and more therapists started using this new technique, its potentials soon appeared to reach far beyond family systems and transgenerational family dynamics.

Practitioners started referring to the method as “systemic constellations” rather than “family constellations” because the technique seemed to function as an X-ray or a CT-Scan for all questions and phenomena that could be conceptualized within a systemic framework. 

By today, Systemic Constellations has grown into a complex psychotherapeutic method that can be applied to all psychological issues. 

Systemic Business Constellations

Systemic Business Constellations – or Organizational Constellations – is a coaching method used by organizational psychologists and executive coaches for organizational development, leadership consultation, conflict resolution, organizational restructuring, innovation management, change management, financial planning etc. in a business or corporate environment.  

Business Constellations is based in Systems Theory, and the technique is a direct development of Bert Hellinger’s work with Systemic Family Constellations.

A business constellation helps solve difficult issues by spatially displaying an organization with the help of participants representing a number of different elements of an organization.

Representatives can stand for employees, managers, owners, departments, products, customers, market competitors, governmental authorities, as well as for abstract concepts (e.g. goals, resources, profit, etc.).

Representatives are free to move around so as to make underlying structures and relational patterns accessible and visible.

In the course of a business constellation, representatives tend to become aware of previously unavailable information. With their help, relational patterns between structural units, outcome results of processes, attitudes of people, underlying entanglements within the organization etc. can be brought to light. 

By working with representatives, various hypotheses can be explored, and different solutions or decisions can be tested.

Subsequently, clients and other participants can process their newly gained insights in  verbal discussions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Practice

THE SHEEN CENTER

18 Bleecker Street; New York, NY 10012

(entrance: from Elizabeth Street) 

Systemic Family Constellations

Group workshop            - in-person

Individual constellation  - in-person

Group workshop            - online 

Individual constellation  - online

Systemic Business Constellations

Group workshop            - in-person

Individual constellation  - in-person

Group workshop            - online 

Individual constellation  - online

In-Person Constellations

 

 

 

 

Online Constellations

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Transgenerational Trauma 

 

Transgenerational trauma, also known as intergenerational trauma, refers to the transmission of traumatic experiences and their effects from one generation to the next. It occurs when the trauma experienced by an individual or a community continues to influence the well-being and mental health of subsequent generations. This transmission can happen through various mechanisms, such as unresolved emotions, maladaptive coping strategies, and disrupted family dynamics.

 

A specific form of transgenerational trauma is what is often referred to as collective trauma, when a traumatic event or process becomes the shared experience of a larger community, e.g. whole nations, ethnic or religious communities, survivors of wars, dictatorships, slavery, crimes, natural catastrophes, accidents, etc. Such collective experiences also have a tendency to be passed on from generation to generation.

 

 

Effects of Transgenerational and Collective Trauma

 

Transgenerational trauma and collective trauma can have profound impacts on individuals and families, manifesting in various ways. 

Trauma and traumatic patterns can be repeated and passed down through learned behaviors, coping mechanisms, and numerous other social, psychological and biological channels. Unresolved trauma may lead to patterns of dysfunction, such as addiction, abusive behaviors, complex PTSD, self-sabotaging behaviors, medical and mental health problems across generations.

Emotional pain and unresolved trauma can be transmitted through family systems or any other human systems/communities with a history of shared experiences, influencing the emotional well-being, relationships, and identity formation of subsequent generations.

Transgenerational and collective trauma can also be influenced by social, historical, political, economic or cultural traumas, such as war, genocide, holocaust, slavery, forced displacement, dictatorship, etc. which can affect entire communities or ethnic groups. 

Recent research suggests that transgenerational and collective trauma can leave marks on our genes, potentially altering gene expression (epigenetics) and affecting the physical and mental health of future generations.

 

 

Breaking the Cycle

 

Breaking the cycle of transgenerational or collective trauma is a very complex process.

Understanding the impact of transgenerational trauma and recognizing its presence in our life is a crucial first step. Education about trauma, therapy, and support can help us gain insight and develop tools for healing.  

Engaging in individual psychotherapy, prioritizing self-care and resilience, engaging in activities that promote well-being, participating in cultural and community healing practices, and connecting with supportive networks can provide a sense of belonging, connection, and healing across generations.

However, most of the time special therapeutic methods are needed that specialize on trauma work.

Originally, the technique of Systemic Family Constellation Therapy was developed precisely for its unique potential to reveal and heal transgenerational traumas, family secrets, unconscious bonds and entanglements in our extended families and larger communities.

Systemic Constellation Therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach that looks at any psychological – mental, emotional, relational, behavioral – issue as a systemic phenomenon over several generations.  

It is a uniquely effective technique to understand not only the deeper dynamics of an individual person, but also those of couples, families, various different communities, collectives, organizations and businesses as well.

Systemic Family Constellations Therapy can reveal unconscious family dynamics, transgenerational influences, and other ’systemic’ entanglements with a unique plasticity and an unprecedented emotional impact.

Hystorical Perspectives

 

Bert Hellinger (1925-2019) was a German psychoanalyst and psychotherapist. 

He spent 16 years in South Africa as a Catholic parish priest, missionary, teacher and, eventually, as the headmaster of a large school.

He learned to speak the Zulu language fluently, studied and gained a deep respect and appreciation for the entire Zulu worldview and spirituality, regularly participated in Zulu rituals, and immersed himself in the Zulu way of seeing transgenerational family systems, tribal communities, and other “systemic” phenomena.

Although he started off as a Catholic missionary, he saw his own personal faith as interdenominational, transdenominational and ecumenical.

Trying to understand the deepest layers of the individual and collective human psyche, he adopted a phenomenological orientation in order to embrace all the diversity present in his Western roots and his traditional African environment without preconceptions, without theoretical and philosophical prejudices, without racial and religious judgements.

He was interested in what is really essential, what is not a matter of opinion or culture or orientation, what can be perceived in a purely experiential and phenomenological way by everyone – without interpretation.

When he returned from South Africa to Europe, he spent several years studying psychoanalysis and various different psychotherapeutic modalities in Germany, Austria and the United States.

Soon, he started to formulate his own ideas and techniques based not only on his knowledge of Western psychology and psychotherapy but also on his profound academic studies of philosophy and theology, on his deep familiarity with the African collective psyche and tribal spirituality, and on his practical experience as a psychotherapist in Western Europe. 

In terms of Western psychotherapies, his Systemic Constellations technique has its roots in family therapies, group therapies, Gestalt therapy, psychodrama, hypnotherapy, Transactional Analysis, and a number of other disciplines. However, it is also distinctly different from them. 

As a result of the fast and complex developments, Bert Hellinger himself and the rapidly developing new schools in Systemic Constellations soon felt the need to part ways.

Since the early 2000’s, the two communities have been following clearly different paths. 

Bert Hellinger adopted a more spiritual – nearly mystical – approach that has raised a lot of criticism over the years.

The large international community of professional constellation therapists - clinical psychologists and psychotherapists, organizational and business psychologists, executive coaches, etc. - seems to represent a more clinical, psychotherapeutic, and pragmatic approach that is open to continuous development, empirical objectivity and research.

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