The Effectiveness of Family Constellation Therapy in Improving Mental Health: A Systematic Review 

 “The data accumulated to date point into the direction that family constellation therapy is an effective intervention with significant mental health benefits in the general population; however, the quantity and overall quality of the evidence is low”. 2021 Feb 2.

Barna Konkolÿ Thege  1   2 , Carla Petroll  3 , Carlos Rivas  4 , Salome Scholtens  5  National Library of medicine


It is always good to have some notable research that can show that Family Constellations Therapy can have benefits for mental health in the general public.

Family Constellations was created by Bert Hellinger, a former catholic priest, teacher, philosopher, author and psychotherapist with an insatiable curiosity as a pioneer for truth, in discovering what was required to make peace with ourselves at a soul level.
On leaving the priesthood, Hellinger took his learnings from his work with the Zulu people and the valuable insight he’d gained, into how they structured their extended families, and although not perfect, appeared to have a place, connection and love.

This appears to be innate ancient knowledge, familiar to many indigenous groups, folk lore and deep inner knowing. Deeply imprinted through centuries of cycles of war, famine, invasion as well as the beauty and craziness of our nature as fallible, sentient, human beings.

Hellinger did a wide range of psychotherapeutic education, where he began to develop the core of a philosophy out of which came healing processes for us in the west. In assisting to reconnect us to our roots and reinstating essential core wisdom. Of how to live collectively, receive nourishment, for survival and an inner connection and a way  to develop a healthy sense of worth. A gift we could nurture in our children. These are aspects we have largely lost in our western world, as many of us have lost our connection to our tribal, cultural and shamanic wisdom, as we are largely born into disconnection. Our modern trend has moved largely towards the norm of nuclear, single parent, split and blended families.

Hellinger developed Family Constellations as a philosophy, art and practice that is dynamic, (continuing to develop), in providing us with ways to self-heal and come to healthier places of acceptance and respect for ourselves through respect for our ancestors.
Hellinger rediscovered the importance of the spatial awareness of human connection and of Place and the availability of love, as innate requirements for human health and wellbeing. A way to navigate and co create ways to live well in the present as individuals, connected within groups, in our largely financially driven lives.

This involves, how to navigate our natural conflicts. Our innate goodness and also darkness, selfishness, insecurities and the potential for violence and atrocities as well. Look at our world. It’s all there.

He developed the ideas that we need to honour ourselves as part of our system first and then look at what we struggle with from this place. This gives a bigger picture of us as individuals and our struggles, in the context of where we come from. The science and research of Epigentics is showing that patterns and trauma are indeed passed through generations Details

This is no longer a ‘woo-woo.’
It used to be thought that we could explore individuals as isolated entities in counselling and psychotherapy.

Ignoring the effects of our relational nature involving loyalties, burdens and entanglements that we are born into.

In fact doing therapy without including the context of their environment, such as their family system, including culture, history, relational bonds, is missing a huge opportunity to tap into valuable resources that may be available.
A person’s context shows what is present and also what is missing. Such as, resources and strength and also dysfunctions and insecurities. What is within forms our inner world and drives our relationships, needs and beliefs and how we conduct our lives. If the core of who we are, is built on incomplete or faulty foundations, how can we expect to make a solid and functional, house, with a healthy sense of self, good connection and be part of a functional society?

Hellinger found that in sitting with a group of people who have never met before, that if one person (client) chose to look at a personal issue, he would instruct them to choose people from the group to represent the key people of their issue and place them spatially from each other in the space; something interesting happened. The placed people (representatives), started to experience sensations in their bodies. Hellinger’s perception was, we appeared to have entered the ancestral energetic field of the client and their family system. Opening up a lot of unspoken, subconscious generational information of the family and the presenting problem. From this he developed ways of working with this to provide a safe place where acknowledgments and expression could be facilitated, so that the system could be bought into better order (Orders of love). From here healthier connections may take place and love is free to flow to all members of the system.  New perspectives may arise resulting in new experience and possible solutions. See Rapid Core Healing Chapter 13 for much more information HERE
The problem with this process is that it shows a very different way to work with human problems. Going to the core of what we need as relational beings and shows us what we need to thrive and also how we suffer when those core experiences are unavailable.
This way of working is frequently seen as challenging to counselling, psychotherapy and psychology theories and practice and mental health. Perhaps because it appears to be too simple intellectually. Yes, the theory is not rocket science and yet the core components are profound in speaking to the deepest part of who we are, in working at cause (psycho-dynamically), deeply, experientially, efficiently and briefly.
This requires immense emotional development and openness and maturity in the practitioner that is not required to the same extent in psychotherapeutic knowledge and education. Intellectual knowledge, understanding and awareness is not the same as the knowledge that comes through constellation experiential growth and an understanding of what the heart and soul requires for healing.

Those who do Family Constellation training frequently find it challenging because working this way requires a rethink of everything we have been doing so far. For many this is painful, particularly if we’ve spent years in an educational psychotherapeutic field and have developed a strong sense of devotion and loyalty to our teachers and colleagues in the field. This frequently becomes our identity and our tribe.
I too found it challenging as a counsellor and hypnotherapist with a Master’s degree, who was teaching and practicing in the counselling, psychotherapeutic field. However, I also had a strong curiosity and was driven to find better ways of working with my clients. I realised, I was more strongly aligned to assisting my clients with the most effective approaches I could source. This for me involves efficient brief therapy requiring fewer sessions. I found I was less connected with former theories and practices and the tribe I had become a part of, once I knew there were better ways of working, that were more authentic for me and more effective for my clients.
So I celebrate the science that is coming out in support of the Family Constellations process. I have a vision that the Family Constellation process will find its place in all communities around the world and be a part of accepted mental health treatment in assisting more people in their wellness.

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See the date of the next Family Constellations Certificate. Details

The next Family Constellations workshop takes place in Mount Tamborine Details