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Family constellations: a type of (pseudo) psychological therapy

Family constellations: a type of (pseudo) psychological therapy

May 6, 2021

The family constellations they are a type of therapeutic dynamic that is having a great boom in recent times. This psychotherapeutic process is carried out in a group and seeks to awaken the feelings and emotions that we have latent in our unconscious.

The theoretical sustenance of family constellations is rather questionable . They tend to support this practice in which people live with certain unconscious emotional conflicts that we have not been able to solve throughout our lives. This unconscious burden can lead us to experience pain and other emotional problems, without our being able to get rid of the cause of the problem. These internal conflicts can bring us behavioral problems and be in permanent dispute with certain people in our environment.


Family constellations: family introspection therapy

But what exactly does the dynamics of family constellations consist of? The dynamic is carried out with several people gathered in the same room. They are people who have no family ties between them and who want to know themselves better and, perhaps, overcome some family and interpersonal conflicts that have dragged on for years .

We must make a small clarification: although the family constellations are carried out in groups, it is not considered as a group therapy to use, since there are important methodological differences with respect to these.

The philosophical and methodological bases

The promoter of the method of the constellations is the psychologist, pedagogue and priest of the Catholic Church Bert Hellinger . This German developed the foundations of family constellations in the 90s, and is considered the founder and its principal author.


During his professional career of more than half a century, Hellinger researched, processed and collected data on the families he helped . He discovered that most people reproduce, unconsciously, patterns and dynamics in our family. They are patterns that, very frequently, lead us to have bad psychological experiences: anxiety, anger, guilt, contempt, isolation ... In addition, we may be suffering from certain disorders due to our relationship with family members, such as alcoholism or emotional dependence.

Hellinger reflects and says that when we are children, we are likely to sacrifice our own emotional balance to correct the emotional problems of our parents or other close family members. According to Hellinger, family constellations can help discover and reinterpret these unconscious patterns so that we are able to live and relate in a more healthy, balanced and happy way.


In summary, the objective of family constellations is to detect and discover the unconscious dynamics of each family and the attitudes and behaviors that occur among its members. Through experimentation on-site, the participants in these dynamics can inspect their hidden feelings regarding their relatives, being an opportunity to find solutions to these latent conflicts.

Family constellation sessions: how are they carried out?

So, How exactly do family constellations work? In an authorized room, several people meet (usually between 5 and 12), including the constellator, who acts as a therapist and organizes the dynamics.

Usually, the sessions usually lengthen several hours. In each workshop, 4 to 7 people are constellated, as the therapist deems appropriate based on the family they wish to represent in the dynamics. Each of the participants has a turn to constellate their own family, for one hour .

During the time in which a constellation takes place, the rest of the participants stage and represent the unconscious experiences of the person who is performing the therapy. After each shift there is a break of a quarter of an hour to take a break and continue with the next person. In this way, the therapeutic dynamic is linked and each participant performs his own personal therapy and participates in the therapy of the other attendees.

People who participate in the dynamics do not have to know the characteristics or the theories on which this type of therapy is based. The way of working is totally experiential, although the therapist imposes a series of essential methodological elements. All attendees carry out their own therapy, but they also benefit from experiencing all the roles representing the relatives of the other participants , and drawing similarities with their own personal and family stories.

A therapy ... useful? More pseudoscience ...

The dynamics that develop in family constellations do not have any scientific endorsement . In fact, this practice is frequently related to pseudoscience and superstition. It is one of the fashions new age that have acquired relevance between spiritual and pseudo-psychological circles.

In any case, here we will limit ourselves to describing, or rather to echoing, all the possible applications of this type of therapy based on the testimony of Hellinger and other prominent advocates of this therapeutic practice.

Therapists in family constellations usually point out that this type of therapy is useful to address systemic issues within the family. Can help resolve frozen conflicts and reinterpret family relationships , and by extension to find a new meaning to life.

Conflicts that are usually treated by this therapy

  • Problems in family relationships
  • Child traumas
  • Problems with the couple or with old romantic relationships
  • Relationship with children
  • Depressive pictures, sadness
  • Mourning processes
  • Coping with serious diseases
  • Isolation, feelings of loneliness
  • Other conflicts

One more among the existential therapies

Existential therapies are based on a phenomenological vision of the human psyche , and therefore of the psychological conflicts that we suffer. The dynamics of existential therapies leave the therapist in the background, and focus on allowing the patient to perform a deep introspection.

This allows the person to detect latent conflicts and try to solve them, usually through reinterpretation and reconciliation with certain people and past events. However, its scientific basis is non-existent, so since Psychology and Mind we must warn that participating in this type of sessions can be useless and even harmful.


SOCIOLOGY - Theodor Adorno (May 2021).


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