This article from Nina Ishtar explores a pattern the author terms “Cover Up” and its point of origin at colonisation.
Some key systems principles are explained and demonstrate how systems dynamics can provide insights into the patterns that may be operating within individual professional systems as well as across the Nation. The author proposes the question; could this particular pattern, that appears to underpin so much of the Australian systemic landscape, account for the phenomena of Australia’s evolution as an advanced society, seeming to hit dead end after dead end?
Click here to read more
Facilitating Healthy Workplaces & Professional Lives
Responding to intergenerational psychological trauma: A literature review paper on the place of Family Constellation Therapy
John Hurley, PhD; Margarete Koenning, BA; Angeline Bray, Grad. Dip.
There is a literature review paper that critically examines the Family Constellation Therapy (FCT) approach as a potential therapy option for responding to intergenerational trauma
Responding to intergenerational psychological trauma: A literature review paper on the place of Family Constellation Therapy
John Hurley, PhD, credentialed mental health nurse, School of Health and Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, NSW; Margarete Koenning, BA (Social Work), certified gestalt therapist, Family and systemic constellation trainer; Angeline Bray, Grad. Dip. Mental Health Nursing, gestalt therapist and credentialed mental health nurse, Headspace Coffs Harbour, NSW
Background: Psychological Trauma
Psychological trauma emerges through an experienced adversity that has a lasting detriment to an individual’s mental, social or emotional wellbeing (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, 2018). It has been long recognised as a complex construct, with some differentiation being made between experiencing one-off adversities (Type 1 trauma) or repeated complex traumas (Type 2 trauma) (Herman, 1992). Psychological trauma remains a global mental health challenge triggered by common events such as road accidents (Benjet et al., 2016), non-partner violence (Abrahams et al., 2014) and inter-partner violence, all of which have high rates of occurrence and generate significant mental health problems (Lagdon, Armour & Stringer, 2014). Additionally, the impacts of human rights abuse have been well acknowledged as generating psychological harm and mental health disorders as well as physical health issues (Johnson et al., 2010). Up to two thirds of those receiving in-patient mental health care in Australia have been exposed to trauma (Kezelman & Stavropoulos, 2012; Mental Health Coordinating Council, 2013) with the mental health workforce being identified as being underprepared to respond to their needs (Wilson, Hurley & Hutchinson, 2017). The capacity of the workforce is further challenged by the fact that unresolved trauma can be perpetrated discreetly through household neglect or abuse by parents or other caregivers, as well as through more overt events such as war (Van der Kolk, 2014).
Psychological trauma has been long identified as having an intergenerational component in which the effects of unresolved trauma are passed from generation to generation (Hirsch, 2001). The mechanisms of transference have been proposed to occur through history telling (Hirsch, 2001), maternal behaviour influencing hormonal and metabolic infant processes (Yehuda & Bierer, 2009), and maternal psychosocial factors (Folger et al., 2017), as well as compromised paternal attachment, poor emotional regulation and fearful messaging from traumatised parents (Berthelot et al., 2015). There is now also evidence from epigenetic research that when trauma occurs chemical changes take place in DNA, altering the way that genes function (Wolynn, 2016) and in turn modifying cognition, emotional regulation and behaviour (Jawaid, Roszkowski & Mansuy, 2018).
Inter-generational trauma hence has biological, developmental and constructivist mechanisms of transmission and can be experienced on both individual and collective levels (Cook et al., 2017). Within families bound by intense loyalties, the trauma can be experienced as inherited remnants of incomplete attempts to accommodate the traumatising experience. The emergent impacts of these traumas are increasingly understood as having a complexity exceeding that contained within the post-traumatic stress disorder diagnostic classification. Trauma induced impairment can found across the spectrum of psychological functioning including attachment behaviours, affect regulation, and behavioural control, as well as self-concept, cognition and consciousness (Cook et al., 2017).
Despite such complexity, therapeutic responses to psychological trauma in Australian mental health contexts are clustered around an arguably narrow range of medicalised therapies delivered to the person directly involved with the traumatic events. Treatment responses are also compromised by the fragmented and uncoordinated funding streams provided by state and federal governments (McFarlane & Bryant, 2017). Recommended treatment guidelines include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or CBT in combination with selective serotonin uptake inhibitor medication (Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health, 2013). Cusack et al (2016), in their meta-analysis of treatment efficacy for Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, also identified eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing as well as CBT and derivatives of CBT as having strong to moderate evidence of efficacy. However, given that psychological trauma is complex and heterogeneous in nature (Cloitre, 2015), there is arguably a need to explore other therapy approaches.
Phenomenological and existential therapies such as Family Constellation Therapy (FCT) and gestalt therapy have long struggled for recognition within health systems dominated by psychological approaches that prioritise technique over relationship within therapy (Hurley, Barrett & Reet, 2006). However, CBT’s recent adoption of mindfulness and emergent evidence of the quantifiable influence of the therapeutic alliance on the efficacy of psychological treatments (Goldsmith, Lewis, Dunn & Bentall, 2015) suggest that a wider range of psychotherapies could be useful for those experiencing psychological trauma. Indeed, given the common factors theory (Drisko, 2004) that views most therapies as sharing effective characteristics rather than any one approach having uniquely superior procedures, the case for exploring treatment options for trauma is evident.
There is a growing understanding that therapeutic responses to psychological trauma generally, and inter-generational trauma more specifically, need to adopt a broader approach than intervening with the traumatised individual in isolation from their family systems (Orlans & Levy, 2014). Inter-generational approaches to psychological therapy generally, and in response to psychological trauma more particularly, appear indicated given growing understanding that the impacts of traumatic events can include subsequent generations. Maternal stress when pregnant has been shown to significantly impact infant neurodevelopment (Bergman, Sarkar, Glover & O’Connor, 2010), potentially positioning the infant for a lifetime of psychological challenges. Precursor cells in both eggs and sperm can be influenced by trauma that can then be inherited or passed on to subsequent generations (Yehuda, Bell, Bierer & Schmeidler, 2008). Additionally, studies of holocaust survivors suggest that trauma is inherited by the next generation at the level of the DNA (Vialou, Feng, Robison & Nestler, 2013) and that the children of those exposed to trauma have higher rates of conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Yehuda et al., 2014).
Considering this evidence, the underpinning tenets of family systems theory appear to present a wider interpretation of how to respond to psychological trauma. This theory seeks to understand an individual within the context of their family as being a single emotional unit influencing all members of that family (Haefner, 2014; Rothbaum, Rosen, Ujiie & Uchida, 2002).
Family Constellation Therapy in Practice
Family Constellation Therapy (FCT) is usually undertaken in a group setting and is individually focussed in that other family members are not required to be present. Its goal is to provide the client with an opportunity to expand their understanding of the conflicts and dysfunctions they have within their family system and to then explore new ways of being within that system (Hunger et al., 2014). This is achieved by the client, supported by a therapist, constructing what is usually a three generational representation of their family system. When constructing and observing the system there is a focus upon the client’s pre-conceptual sensory phenomenological “knowing” of the constellation and this allows the client to fully experience their internalised family structures in this external representation. This systemic constellation is, in effect, a spatial representation of a family system, with a boundary or phenomenological field (Birkenkrahe, 2009).
FCT groups are usually of around fifteen people with members volunteering to “place” a part of their wider family system. The therapist seeks only limited information about those within the system and of key events before the client selects members of the group to represent family members; these are sculpted or placed in relationship to each other, reflective of their current experiences of the family. The client then, in true experiential approaches, seeks to experience the formed constellation of their family system in the here and now, rather than cognitively interpreting that which they now see. This offers an opportunity for the client to have greater self-awareness of their internalised understandings of the inter-generational relational entanglements within their own family system.
This may result in further restructuring of the constellation, including the client taking their place within it and seeking to redress the disruptions within the family system through what FCT calls “healing sentences” (Stiefel, Harris & Zollmann, 2002). FCT works with the factual events, structures and relationships within a represented three generational family system, and healing sentences spoken by the client compassionately reflect the truth of what that system needs. Enacting such compassionate truth has been shown to stimulate neural pathway activity in regions of the brain associated with social interactions and positive affect such as the media orbitofrontal cortex (Klimecki, Leiberg, Lamm & Singer, 2012).
While there are some similarities between FCT and psychodrama in terms of the constructions of systems and the underpinning phenomenological philosophy, McQuillin and Welford (2013) identify the key differences, including that psychodrama work is undertaken in the “now” of the client’s life while FCT work is situated in the client’s ancestry. This latter point is important in the consideration of inter-generational trauma. Another important distinction is that while the forming of constellations is coached in psychodrama, this does not occur in FCT: participants are representing family members with little or no information and are reporting the phenomenology emerging from their experiences.
Family Constellation Therapy: Theoretical Underpinnings
Family systems theory is a key structure that binds FCT, which is embedded in the wider field of family systems therapy with defining additional components from existential phenomenology and Zulu culture. Family therapies originate from a diverse background of theoretical structures with contextualised family therapy (Boszormenyi-Nagy & Krasner, 1986) and experiential family therapy (Satir,1987) having the most influence within FCT. Contextualised family therapy places an emphasis on relational ethics and achieving a balance of indebtedness and entitlements within a family system (Boszormenyi-Nagy & Krasner, 1986). Experiential family therapy, by comparison, has an emphasis on reconstructing family systems through congruent communication (Satir & Baldwin, 1983).
Bert Hellinger (1925– ) is the seminal figure in the development of FCT, which is open to adaptation and integration with other psychotherapeutic approaches. Hellinger was influenced by an eclectic range of existential therapies, psychoanalysis and family sculpture and lived for many years as a catholic priest with the Zulus in Africa. This latter experience directly influenced his construction of FCT through the incorporation, into FCT, of the Zulu reverence toward their ancestors, whom they believe are an active presence in their daily lives. Additionally, Hellinger incorporated the African tribal principle of ‘Ubunto’ into FCT. In essence, Ubunto is the belief that humanity shares a mutual bond of inter-connectedness. In turn, the person with Ubunto is seen as having self-assuredness and inter-personal availability to others stemming from this sense of belonging and connectedness (Sulamoyo, 2010).
FCT is also informed by phenomenology, which has made contributions to a range of psychotherapies including person-centred therapy, psychodrama and gestalt therapy (Cohen, 2006). More specifically, FCT reflects hermeneutic phenomenology, and also resonates with existentialism’s philosophical attention toward existence and that humans make their own meaning in life. Hermeneutic phenomenology places a focus on the exploration of “Being” and seeks to interpret, rather than simply describe, phenomena emerging from lived experience (Titchen & Hobson, 2005).
Hellinger (2001) reflected a phenomenological interpretative approach toward “Being” (Schutz & Luckmann, 1973) through acknowledging that individuals will often sense experiences they themselves do not recognise, necessitating interpretation of emerging data. Hellinger’s phenomenological stance is a search for understanding through first reaching an inner stillness, undistracted by conscious and active attainment of knowledge. Primarily this application of phenomenology requires that the client is prepared to be open to having experiences that heighten their awareness, and also to offer new meaning toward phenomena. Within FCT, such new awareness and meanings are in the context of the client in relationship to their family system. This has particular significance to FCT in the forming of ancestral constellations. Such constellations are three dimensional representations of family systems that are pre-reflectively experienced, allowing for new understandings to spontaneously emerge with minimal conscious reaching for cognitive understanding. This experiential method of family constellations brings into awareness the often repetitive traumatic patterns of the family system that have not been seen, or that have been denied.
Hellinger, Weber and Beaumont (1998) forward the following key principles as being active
- Family systems have an unconscious group conscience regulating innocence and guilt.
- All family members have a right to belong.
- Parents give while children receive.
- Individuals have precedence within families systems according to time spent within the system.
- There is a flow of love from ancestors to decedents necessitating that there is reciprocal respect shown to ancestor.
- Each of us is seen as being born as a small soul or entity into a larger family entity in which we are free to live self-responsible lives while simultaneously being connected to our roots. (Hogeland, 2010; Sethi, 2008).
Disruptions to these underpinning principles will often emerge as psychological trauma experienced by younger members of the system. However, it is the responsibility of the current generation to take responsibility for their own fate and to find peace within the wider family structures (Hellinger, Weber & Beaumont, 1998), rather than seeking to solve the disruptions within previous generations of the system.
Family Constellation Therapy: a Review of the Literature
To evaluate evidence for the efficacy of FCT, a review of the international peer reviewed literature was undertaken on April 10th, 2017.
Databases searched included Academic Search Premier, The Allied and Complementary Medicine Database, CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Education Research Complete, ERIC, Humanities International Complete, MEDLINE with Full Text, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection and PsycINFO.
The key words used in the search strategy included (TI “family constellation*” OR AB “family constellation*” OR SU “family constellation*”) OR (TI “system constellation*” OR AB “system constellation*” OR SU “system constellation*”) AND (TI therapy OR AB therapy OR SU therapy).
When papers were narrow by language (English) there were 185 results that dropped to 141 after duplicates were removed. All 141 abstracts were then hand-searched and read for relevance to the topic of Family Constellation Therapy. 124 papers were discarded as these referred to Alder’s systemic family therapy approach or derivatives thereof. 15 abstracts remained, with the abstracts re-read to ensure relevance. 1 book chapter, 2 doctoral studies and 1 book were within those results, leaving 11 peer-reviewed journal articles published in the period 2002–2016.
The reviewed papers can be organised into three groups. First are those papers that predominantly outlined and critically described the FCT approach: Cohen, 2006; Crawford, 2013; Sethi, 2008; and Stiefel et al., 2002. Second are a group of papers that sought to integrate FCT with other psychotherapeutic approaches: Fidyk, 2016; McQuillin & Welford, 2013; and Welford, 2014. The third and final group were those offering research findings exclusively on FCT: Hunger et al., 2014; Hunger et al., 2017; and Weinhold et al., 2013.
FCT is not without critics. Talarczyk (2011) offers a largely opinion-based critique of FCT from the ethical perspective of Polish psychotherapists. This critique highlights the divergent nature of psychotherapies globally and argues that the principles of FCT are partly incongruent with traditional ethical understandings of psychotherapy. The limited literature used to support this argument is, arguably, inadequately applied to build a solid case for this view, which was not found elsewhere in the available literature. Other authors such as McQuillin and Welford (2013) and Welford (2014), although supportive of FCT, also advance the view that the key principles or “order of love” have outdated gender perspectives.
Identifying FCT as a therapeutic intervention that has fused traditional family systems theory with existential phenomenology and Zulu ancestor reverence, Cohen’s (2006) mainly descriptive paper sought to introduce this approach into North American practice settings. He clarifies the components of FCT, particularly those of soul, consciousness and belonging within the context Hellinger applied them. In this context of FCT, soul situates the individual as being linked to a greater universal whole incorporating past, present and future. Connectivity is also apparent in the way in which FCT utilises the term conscience, which is understood as a group conscience that binds the family. Reflective of other transgenerational family therapy approaches, FCT adopts an inter-generational perspective to a family that can also be understood as adopting a multi-generational empathic understanding toward the individual (Crawford, 2013). Other opinion papers in this search such as Sethi (2008) and Stiefel et al. (2002) simply describe and highlight the characteristics of FCT with some emphasis toward its phenomenological underpinnings.
Fidyk (2016) highlights the therapeutic incompleteness of looking at an individual without also incorporating their wider family consciousness. His paper contrasts this to the complex impact that the Jungian familial unconscious has upon the individual. The paper contrasts FCT with Jungian therapy, including a claim that Jung also placed emphasis on the influences that the dead have upon the way the living attend to their existence. Fidyk (2016) acknowledges that the individual’s psyche disturbances have their origin in the family and collective ancestors, and that psychotherapy has often failed to account for this. McQuillin and Welford (2013) and Welford (2014) in their opinion papers also highlight the connectivity that FCT offers the client through working therapeutically with their family system. Importantly, they both identify FCT as an effective approach to respond to intergenerational trauma and grief. Additionally, McQuillin and Welford (2013) integrate many facets of transactional analysis theory into FCT, such as reframing intergenerational “don’t think” injunctions as passed-on shame from previous generations.
In their 2014 RCT study, Hunger et al focus on participants’ experiences of the relational ethics, trustworthiness and reciprocal fairness that underpins the work of FCT. They developed the Experience In Social Systems Questionnaire which covers personal and organisational domains building on four dimensions of Belonging, Autonomy, Accord, and Confidence. Findings four months post FCT showed statistical improvement across these dimensions compared with the waiting group. In their follow up study, Hunger et al, (2017) confirm the psychometric properties of their Experience in Personal Social Systems Questionnaire (EXISpers). The five factors are: the general Experience in Personal Social Systems and four dimensions of Belonging, Autonomy, Accord, and Confidence. The EXISpers is a research tool designed for circumstances whereby one person in a social system engages with FCT; it can also be used within organisational contexts. This wider view of social systems includes family and also friends where so assigned by the individual (Hunger et al., 2017). This tool will support ongoing empirical evaluations of FCT that lack a deep evidence base.
Finally, Weinhold et al. (2013) offer findings from a rare Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) on FCT that showed improved psychological functioning at 2 weeks and 4 months post intervention for their general population participants. The modest effect size of improvements reflects the wider literature that situates FCT as being most useful as an adjunct to other therapies.
There is clearly limited evidence in the international peer-reviewed literature on FCT for psychological trauma generally and inter-generational trauma more specifically. The strongest evidence emerges from the RCT style studies (Hunger et al., 2014; Weinhold et al., 2013), although Weinhold et al. (2013) were measuring general populations rather than those presenting for treatment. The EXISpers tool (Hunger et al., 2017) offers an arguably promising area to focus research attention, particularly in the context of psychological trauma. The positive findings in areas of social function around belonging, accord and autonomy, as well as confidence, arguably respond directly to the relational difficulties associated with disrupted attachment as a result of childhood trauma (Marusak et al., 2015). Additionally, the EXISpers measures outcomes specifically related to the individual within their family system, often the source of perpetuating the trauma (McQuillin & Welford, 2013).
The theoretical papers that outline FCT also suggest that this approach offers a unique opportunity for clients to experience, and gain insights into, their trauma. Case studies presented within these papers highlight that as the client is encouraged to pre-reflexively experience the witnessed constellation of their family system, they gain not only external concrete representation of their abstract or unconscious representations but also a subsequent opportunity to then work with the new, conscious understandings of their family system. The papers identified in this review also strongly identify FCT as being amendable for use in conjunction with other established therapeutic approaches (Fidyk, 2016; McQuillin & Welford,2013; Welford, 2014; and Sethi, 2008 ). These authors seemingly use FCT as a powerful mechanism to generate new client perspectives and to diminish the client’s self-blame and shame through situating the trauma as originating from and belonging to ancestors.
As FCT is theoretically derived from both contextualised family therapy (Boszormenyi-Nagy & Krasner, 1986) and experiential family therapy (Satir, 1987) there is a strong connection to the broader evidence supporting systemic therapeutic approaches for inter-generational trauma. FCT offers a restorative process for inter-generational trauma that echoes the earlier family systems work of Abrams (1999) whose therapeutic work on inter-generational trauma is focussed upon reaching back to previous generations. There are hidden dynamics in families that are often unconscious and unseen in the trauma response of the client, and that are most often not spoken of within the wider family system (Abrams, 1999). FCT seeks to include that which has been excluded, also to speak the truth of what has happened in the family, to restore connection, to add resources and to create strengthening inner images for the client. The process helps the client to cognitively understand that which could not be understood as a child and to voice that which had not been spoken of (Franke, 2017).
FCT does not directly evoke traumatic memories. It approaches the work from a safe, witnessing position, in a gradual and titrated way, and provides new corrective experiences. FCT, as with other systemic therapeutic approaches, views the whole family as one relational system (Minuchin, 1974). Consequently, therapeutic corrective experiences may focus on family members other than the identified client, or indeed the entire family system. Interventions aimed at resolving traumatised family members other than the identified trauma victim have been shown to have a positive impact on reducing intergenerational trauma transmission by improving social relating (Bachem, Levin, Zhou Zerach & Solomon, 2017).
Given the biological and sociological knowledge on inter-generational trauma that is emerging (Yehuda et al., 2014), there is arguably a growing foundation to support the original phenomenologically-based theories developed by Hellinger. The findings within the literature are limited, but do seem to suggest that FCT can be useful as an adjunct to other therapies or can be integrated within other approaches. Programmatic research thus is required to construct an evidence base around FCT. This requires both deductive and inductive approaches to increasing our knowledge. While Weinhold et al. (2013) and Hunger et al. (2017) are deductively measuring quantitative outcomes from FCT there is also a need to systematically improve inductive understandings of the lived experiences of FCT.
The RCT studies of FCT are occurring in the absence of a solid foundation of qualitative studies, with the majority of available evidence being case study based. Paradoxically for a phenomenologically-based therapy, there is a paucity of phenomenologically-designed qualitative studies on FCT. Such qualitative studies need to be undertaken to capture not only the contextualising existential components that impact upon these experiences but also to understand how those experiencing FCT have then successfully integrated those experiences with other therapies. Equally, the RCT-based studies are required to add validity to the case that funding arrangements for psychological therapies fail to reflect emergent understandings of inter-generational psychological distress.
Abrams, M. S. (1999). Intergenerational transmission of trauma: Recent contributions from the literature of family systems approaches to treatment. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 53(2), 225-231.
Abrahams, N., Devties, K., Watts, C., Pallitto, C., Petzold,M., Shamu, S., & Garcia Moreno, C., (2014). Worldwide prevalence of non-partner sexual violence: a systemic review. Lancet 383, 1648-1654.
Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health. (2013). Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Melbourne, Australia: ACPMH.
Bachem, R., Levin, Y., Zhou, X., Zerach, G., & Solomon, Z. (2017). The Role of Parental Posttraumatic Stress, Marital Adjustment, and Dyadic Self‐Disclosure in Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma: A Family System Approach. Journal of Marital and Family therapy. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/jmft.12266
Benjet, C., Bromet, E., Karam, E. G., Kessler, R. C., McLaughlin, K. A., Ruscio, A. M., … & Alonso, J. (2016). The epidemiology of traumatic event exposure worldwide: results from the World Mental Health Survey Consortium. Psychological Medicine, 46(2), 327-343.
Bergman, K., Sarkar, P., Glover, V., & O’Connor, T. G. (2010). Maternal prenatal cortisol and infant cognitive development: moderation by infant–mother attachment. Biological Psychiatry, 67(11), 1026-1032.
Berthelot, N., Ensink, K., Bernazzani, O., Normandin, L., Luyten, P., & Fonagy, P. (2015). Intergenerational transmission of attachment in abused and neglected mothers: The role of trauma‐specific reflective functioning. Infant Mental Health Journal, 36(2), 200-212.
Birkenkrahe, M. (2009). System constellations as a tool supporting organisational learning and change processes. International Journal of Learning and Change, 3(2), 125 -144.
Boszormenyi-Nagy, I., & Krasner, B. R. (1986). Between give and take: A clinical guide to contextual therapy. New York: Brunner-Routledge.
Cloitre, M. (2015). The “one size fits all” approach to trauma treatment: should we be satisfied?. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 6(1), 27344.
Cohen, D. B. (2006). ‘Family Constellations’: An innovative systemic phenomenological group process from Germany. The Family Journal, 14(3), 226-233.
Cook, A., Spinazzola, J., Ford, J., Lanktree, C., Blaustein, M., Cloitre, M., … & Mallah, K. (2017). Complex trauma in children and adolescents. Psychiatric annals, 35(5), 390-398.
Crawford, J. (2013). Sister of the Heart and Mind: Healing and Teaching with Family System Constellations. Women & Therapy, 36 (1-2), 100-109.
Cusack, K., Jonas, D. E., Forneris, C. A., Wines, C., Sonis, J., Middleton, J. C., … & Weil, A. (2016). Psychological treatments for adults with posttraumatic stress disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 43, 128-141.
Drisko, J. (2004). Common factors in psychotherapy outcome: Meta-analytic findings and their implications for practice and research. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 85(1), 81-90.
Fidyk, A. (2016). Unconscious ties that bind – attending to complexes in the classroom: part 2, International Journal of Jungian Studies, 8(3), 195-210.
Folger, A. T., Putnam, K. T., Putnam, F. W., Peugh, J. L., Eismann, E. A., Sa, T., … & Ammerman, R. T. (2017). Maternal Interpersonal Trauma and Child Social‐Emotional Development: An Intergenerational Effect. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, 31(2), 99-107.
Franke, U. (2017). In my mind’s eye: Family constellations in individual therapy and counselling. Carl-Auer Verlag.
Goldsmith, L., Lewis, W., Dunn, G., & Bentall. P. (2015). Psychological treatments for early psychosis can be beneficial or harmful, depending on the therapeutic alliance: an instrumental variable analysis. Psychological Medicine, 45, 2365-2373.
Haefner, J. (2014). An application of Bowen family systems theory. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 35(11), 835-841.
Hellinger, B., Weber, G., & Beaumont, H. (1998). Love’s hidden symmetry: What makes love work in relationships? Phoenix, AZ: Zeig Tucker & Co.
Hellinger, B. (2001). Love’s own truths: Bonding and balancing in close relationships (M. Oberli-Turner & H. Beaumont, Trans.). Phoenix, AZ: Zeig Tucker & Theisen.
Herman, J. L. (1992). Trauma and Recovery. New York: Basic Books.
Hirsch, M. (2001). Surviving images: Holocaust photographs and the work of ‘postmemory’. The Yale Journal of Criticism, 14, 5-37.
Hogeland, A. (2010). Family constellation therapy. Homeopathic Links, 23, 24-26.
Hunger, C., Bornhaauser, A., Link, L., Schweitzer, J., & Weinhold, J. (2014). Improving Experience in Personal Social Systems through Family Constellation Seminars: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial. Family Process, 53(2), 288–306.
Hunger, C., Weinhold, J., Bornhaauser, A., Link, L., & Schweitzer, J. (2015). Mid- and Long-Term Effects of Family Constellation Seminars in a General Population Sample: 8- and 12-Month Follow-Up. Family Process 54, 344–358.
Hunger, C., Bornhaauser, A., Link, L., Giegges, J, Voss, A., Weinhold, J., & Schweitzer, J. (2017). The Experience in Personal Social Systems Questionnaire (EXISpers): Development and Psychometric Properties. Family Process 56,154–170.
Hurley, J., Barrett, P., & Reet, P. (2006). ‘Let a hundred flowers blossom, let a hundred schools of thought contend’: a case for therapeutic pluralism in mental health nursing. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 13, 173–179.
Jawaid, A., Roszkowski, M., & Mansuy, I. M. (2018). Chapter Twelve – Transgenerational Epigenetics of Traumatic Stress. Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science 158, 273-298.
Johnson K., Scott J., Rughita B., Kisielewski M., Asher J., et al. (2010) Association of sexual violence and human rights violations with physical and mental health in territories of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. JAMA 304, 553–562.
Kezelman, C., & Stavropoulos, P. (2012). ‘The Last Frontier’: Practice Guidelines for Treatment of Complex Trauma and Trauma Informed Care and Service Delivery. Kirribilli, Australia: Adults Surviving Child Abuse.
Klimecki, O. M., Leiberg, S., Lamm, C., & Singer, T. (2012). Functional neural plasticity and associated changes in positive affect after compassion training. Cerebral Cortex, 23(7), 1552-1561.
Lagdon, S., Armour, C., & Stringer, M. (2014). Adult experience of mental health outcomes as a result of intimate partner violence victimisation: a systematic review. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 5(1). Retrieved from http://email@example.com
Marusak, H. A., Martin, K. R., Etkin, A., & Thomason, M. E. (2015). Childhood trauma exposure disrupts the automatic regulation of emotional processing. Neuropsychopharmacology, 40(5), 1250-1258.
McFarlane, A., & Bryant, R. (2017). PTSD: the need to use emerging knowledge to improve systems of care and clinical practice in Australia. Australasian Psychiatry, 25(4), online. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1039856217716297
McQuillin, J., & Welford, E. (2013). How Many People Are Gathered Here? Group Work and Family Constellation Theory. Transactional Analysis Journal, 43(4), 352-365.
Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC) 2013, Trauma-Informed Care and Practice: Towards a cultural shift in policy reform across mental health and human services in Australia: A National Strategic Direction Position Paper and Recommendations of the National Trauma-Informed Care and Practice Advisory Working Group. Retrieved from http://www.mhcc.org.au/media/32045/ticp_awg_position_paper__v_44_final___07_11_13.pdf
Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and family therapy. London: Tavistock
Orlans, M., & Levy, T. M. (2014). Attachment, trauma, and healing: Understanding and treating attachment disorder in children, families and adults. London: Jessica Kingsley.
Rothbaum, F., Rosen, K., Ujiie, T., & Uchida, N. (2002). Family systems theory, attachment theory, and culture. Family Process, 41(3), 328-350.
Satir, V., and Baldwin, M. (1983). Step by step: A guide to creating change in families. Palo Alto: Science and Behavior Books.
Satir, V. (1987). Going beyond the obvious: The psychotherapeutic journey. In J. Zeig (Ed.), Evolution of Psychotherapy (pp. 58-68). New York: Brunner/Mazel.
Schutz, A., & Luckmann, T. (1973). Structures of the life-world. London, UK: Heinemann Educational Books.
Sethi, Y. (2008). Coming full circle to systemic family constellations in personal therapy. Journal of Clinical Hypnotherapy and Hypnosis, 29 (2), 5-11.
Stiefel, I., Harris, P., & Zollmann, A. (2002). Family Constellation: A therapy beyond words. ANZJFT, 23(1), 38-44.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, (2018). Trauma and Violence. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/trauma-violence
Sulamoyo, D. (2010). ‘I Am Because We Are’: Ubuntu as a Cultural Strategy for OD and Change in Sub-Saharan Africa. Organization Development Journal, 28(4), 41.
Talarczyk, M. (2011). Family constellation method of Bert Hellinger in the context of the Code of Ethics for Psychotherapists. Archives of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, 13(3), 65-74.
Titchen, A., & Hobson, D. (2005). Phenomenology. In B. Somekh & C. Lewin (Eds.), Research Methods in the Social Sciences (pp. 121-130). London: Sage.
Van der Kolk, B. (2014). The body keeps the score. New York: Viking.
Vialou, V., Feng, J., Robison, A. J., & Nestler, E. J. (2013). Epigenetic mechanisms of depression and antidepressant action. Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology, 53, 59-87.
Weinhold, J., Hunger, C., Bornhäuser, A., Link, L., Rochon, J., Wild, B., & Schweitzer, J. (2013). Family constellation seminars improve psychological functioning in a general population sample: Results of a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 60(4), 601-609.
Welford, E. (2014). Giving the Dead Their Rightful Place: Grief Work with the Family System. Transactional Analysis Journal, 44(4) 320-333.
Wilson, A., Hurley, J., & Hutchinson M. (2017). A literature review of Trauma Informed Care: Implications for mental health nurses working in acute in-patient settings in Australia. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 26, 326-343.
Wolynn, M. (2016). It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We are and How to End the Cycle. New York: Penguin Books.
Yehuda, R., Bell, A., Bierer, L. M., & Schmeidler, J. (2008). Maternal, not paternal PTSD, is related to increased risk for PTSD in offspring of Holocaust survivors. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 42(13), 1104–1111.
Yehuda, R., & Bierer, L. M. (2009). The relevance of epigenetics to PTSD: Implications for the DSM-V. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 22, 427–434.
Yehuda, R., Daskalakis, N. P., Lehrner, A., Desarnaud, F., Bader, H. N., Makotkine, I., … Meaney, M. J. (2014). Influences of maternal and paternal PTSD on epigenetic regulation of the glucocorticoid receptor gene in Holocaust survivor offspring. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 171(8), 872–880.
As well as learning there are so many ways that HEALING, INTEGRATION and INSIGHT emerges through the experiential processes. THERAPY – personal trauma, relationships and family challenges- parent/child, step families, adoption, loss and grief, addiction
COACHING and Organizations – a great video series by one of our guest presenters Sarah Cornally talks about the difference between Family and Organizational Constellations https://www.sarahcornally.com/videos-by-sarah/ and how a Systemic lens can support clients to find solutions to complex issues
HEALTH – anything related to wellness, health and symptoms https://youtu.be/ys-tq_LOti4 can be worked with systemically
Stephan Hausner previous faculty member osteopath/homeopath and author of ‘Even if it Costs me my Life” talks about SYMPTOMS from a systemic perspective here
Sneh talks about Bert Hellinger
Bert Hellinger, founder of the extraordinary work of Family/Systemic Constellations and the Orders of Love died earlier this year. Just recently it was the anniversary of his birth and these thoughts from Sneh Schnabel seem valuable to share. Sneh will be on the Faculty for the Australasian Constellation Intensive in March 2020
When I got the message about Bert Hellinger’s passing, I knew I would need to come forward with something to honour my special relationship with this big man. For days now, I have been busy with what it is I want people to know, and how to put it into words. It is somehow more “content-heavy” than usual; the sentences are not easily flowing on paper, or through the keys; the words seem to need more time and space. Bert Hellinger died on 19. September. Or: “moved on”–which somehow sounds more friendly. But the fact remains: he no longer walks the earth.
I–and I believe many of us who came into contact with this powerful and deeply-healing method of constellation work through him–can only bow down to his life’s work with great gratitude. And by using the tools as carefully as possible and in our very own ways, we give him the honour he deserves.
Without his courage and his fearlessness to go public with what he perceived; I would not be where I am today with my work. So I “owe him big”. Mega-big! This also includes the fact that in my first years as a “young” facilitator, I was lucky enough to have his permission to give him a call, whenever I felt that I had reached my limits with a constellation. And he always took the time to help me–either by making me see something I had not considered before or by supporting the way I saw the situation. I experienced him as genuinely interested and supportive. And I certainly will never forget when he once told me–after I needed too many words to convey what my trouble was–“I am now getting unquiet.” That was convincing enough for me to dare start answering my own questions.
But, from the beginning, he was the one who encouraged me and many of my colleagues to start doing the work and later to go my own way.
I still remember a situation where Bertold Ulsamer (my old friend, and partner in our first public constellations in 1994) and I bumped into him at a break in one of the increasingly popular seminars in Germany, and happily told him about our first constellation groups together. His reply was: “If you work alone, you have more strength.”
Not that we dared to do that! In our humble beginnings, we were very glad to have each other to lean on and to talk each constellation through in our breaks. But after a fruitful time of working together, we offered our own constellation groups and trainings separately–and Bert’s statement proved to be pointing in the right direction.
Later, Bertold and I spent many years together in a peer-group–learning, experimenting, and always amazed and deeply affected by the truth and depth of the constellations. Within this peer-group, I made far-reaching progress in my work, and with my own themes. Because lots of fun and good food were always part of our meetings, we were nourished on many levels. The fact that the intensity of our work as peers–along with experimenting and often daring to use unconventional approaches that brought us several times to the brink of breaking apart–taught me a good lesson in humility. This lesson was important because constellation work at that time in Germany was at the height of an enormous wave, and most of us had very full groups in a very short time–an ego booster of no small proportion. It was a deeply valuable experience, though not always welcome, to learn that we too can stumble over our own feet, even in the presence of this fantastic tool of constellation work. Ultimately, however, it strengthened my experience of solidarity and union in this peer-group of mine.
This is also the reason why today, in all my further education and training courses, I “demand” and promote as best I can, continuous work in self-organized peer-groups. And the feedback proves me right: I keep hearing of some, which have been in existence for as much as 12 years and are still meeting regularly. The friendship and support that comes from being on the path together for a long time is an immeasurable gift. Sometimes I still cry a little for my own peer-group. We separated after a memorable supervision, to which we had invited Bert, and where we met Sofie, his future wife, for the first time.
For me, this farewell was also connected with my farewell to Bert’s new directions–with which I could not resonate.
If, ultimately, my own ways led me away from Bert’s later work, what has remained is that the core of the constellation work in its unequivocal “rightness”, inclusiveness, power and beauty still carries me today.
Adieu Bert, my gratitude comes from a wonderfully nourished mind and from a heart that has been touched in surprising ways many times over. Have a good journey! You were the right teacher at the right time for me.
Faculty member Yildiz Sethi offers these insightful articles on Systemic/Family Constellations enjoy, we hope you will join us for the 6th Australasian Constellation Intensive in March 2020.
Ah Fung – Hong Kong
Ah Fung (Lap Fung Cheng) master facillitator of both Organizational Constellations as well as Family Constellations offers a metaphor for understanding how Constellations work.
You will also find his articles from The Knowing Field (click links below to download PDF)
Transgenerational Healing with Stephan Hausner
Dr.St. Just is a systemically oriented social traumatologist who holds advanced degrees from WISR and the University of California at Berkeley. She is also a cultural historian, trauma specialist and somatic educator who specializes in developing multi-modal, cross cultural methods for trauma education and recovery. Her master’s and doctoral theses written during her years at WISR evolved into a first book Relative Balance in an Unstable World : A Search for New Models for Trauma Education and Recovery.
Check out her blog page for more information.
The Keynote Speech at the North American Conference by Dr Karl-Heinz Rauscher and Anngwyn St Just
Dr. Karl-Heinz Rauscher gave this keynote speech in “Collective Healing” at the North American Systemic Constellations Conference on Oct. 7, 2017 in Virginia Beach, Va. The theme of the conference was “Bridging the Divide: Healing the Personal and Collective Soul.”
Click here to read the full transcript of the keynote speech.
Interview Part 1 What is a Family Constellation
Interview with Svagito Liebermeister, expert in family constellation
A Principle of Trauma Healing and Personal Growth
Svagito Liebermeister in China About Family Constellations
Find Solutions to complex problems in a very short period of time
Sarah Peyton explains what Interpersonal Neurobiology is, introduces Matthew Lieberman’s research on the effect of empathy on the brain using functional MRIs, explains our how Emotional Alarm System works, and shares what we can do to restore presence and calm after we experience an emotional alarm.