by Karin Hallberg
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Whether we want it or not, the issues we are struggling with, our personality traits and our expectations of life are strongly influenced by our parents. Since they in turn have been affected by their parents, unresolved traumas can be passed forward from one generation to the next, decade after decade, with the result that we have adopted an emotional map that doesn’t serve us any longer.
Healing these wounds in both oneself and in the family at large is what we work with in the Family Constellations workshops, which are offered here at New Life Foundation and are open for residents, staff and long-term volunteers to attend. The workshops are facilitated by New Life transpersonal counselor and life coach, Ciara McArdle.
How it works practically is that the person who has the constellation addresses an issue that she or he wants to work on. This can be shame, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, and so on. The addressing person will then intuitively select one person in the group to represent him- or herself. Representatives for the closest family members will also be selected and placed out in the room. As the constellation proceeds, the dynamic between the family members (and other entities such as emotions, energies, places, etc.) in relation to the problem reveal the core of the suffering. Hence, emotions that might have been passed on from parents to children for many generations (or are caused by dynamics that are out of order in the current family or in the person itself) can now be released.
Although the focus of the constellation is on moving towards more healing or insights for the person addressing the issue, often there are reports of other family members being affected, even if they knew nothing of the constellation work, as well as the representatives themselves often finding insights or healing through being a representative. The person chosen to represent for example a mother who lost her child commonly has some previous experience with similar emotions that can be healed by the constellation. Being chosen to represent entities such as creative energy can in a similar way open up creative channels for that person.
The constellation ends with the whole family (representatives) coming together in reconciliation, either in finding a resolution or in taking one step towards it. And whether it works? I can only speak for myself, but after a constellation where it turned out that my anxiety has been passed on through generations on my mother’s side, I found both myself, my mother and our relationship much more at peace than was the case before.