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Rearranging the Stars: Healing Through Family Constellations

Close up rear view photo of person with ponytail looking at constellations in starry cloudFrom a space of wonder, in a garden under a summer moon, two lovers studied the starry sky and considered how they might arrange the constellations if they hadn’t already been named. What shapes would the stars come together to form if we had no predetermined understanding of how to see them? How might we understand the sky anew if we could get close enough to the stars to hear how they twinkled? What stories would they share? Just as some consult birth charts to gain insight into how the solar system may influence their lives, we can consider our experiences in relation to the larger family systems from which we hail.

Our complex ancestral systems carry unique energetic imprints. These relational dynamics make up our generational family trees, yet most of these influences exist beyond the boundaries afforded by our own perspectives. When embarking on a therapeutic journey of exploration, rather than relying on examining the self as a solitary star, it can be helpful to zoom out with the eye of an astrologer to consult the broader cosmic picture.

From the cultural impact and traditional roles carried by our families’ countries of origin, to significant events such as untimely deaths, substance abuse, or physical and mental health issues, we inherit unconscious traumas from generations before us. They linger deep within our family psyche and can manifest in ways that impede our journeys through the emotional symptoms or undesirable patterns we yearn to shed. Some of us have more awareness of the family dynamics and significant events carried in our lineage than others. Yet even on the clearest nights, our vistas are limited by the distance that the naked eye can see.

Family constellations group work is a transpersonal approach that invites seekers into a co-created experiential space of emotional excavation and healing. The constellation approach acknowledges universal themes within families that can have a significant impact. These include the father’s lineage; the mother’s lineage; physical and mental health; death; war and conflict; immigration and migration; religion; and relationships.

Entering through the personal narrative of a challenge one is consciously negotiating, the other group participants are gently facilitated to role-play the significant family figures and themes in each person’s life. With little linear information to go on, the assigned characters begin to embody the energetic space and carry forth an experience that transcends that of the personal witness. “Family members” are encouraged to close their eyes and tune into information offered from the bodily sensations and intuitions that arise.

Like most transpersonal approaches, family constellations work is only diluted by efforts to sufficiently explain it. As such, it is best experienced. Part psychodrama, part energetic channeling, family constellations work is not a therapy that works within the confines of the linear mind.

Based on what information is known and what is sensed by each member of the group as it unfolds, constellations are mapped out. Participants are blocked like actors on a stage, configured and then reconfigured, reflecting the feedback from the collective journey as it reveals itself. As everyone deepens into their assigned personas, emotions quickly come to the surface to inform the process. The result of the innate wisdom arising through each participant allows family patterns that have been obstructing one’s ability to function in some area of life to be worked through and healed.

Like most transpersonal approaches, family constellations work is only diluted by efforts to sufficiently explain it. As such, it is best experienced. Part psychodrama, part energetic channeling, family constellations work is not a therapy that works within the confines of the linear mind. It is experienced through an intangible field, via an alternate state of consciousness that is easily accessible, deeply powerful, and magnified by the group. Depending on the facilitators and the group, the process takes place over several hours, yielding healing from generations of trauma.

By traveling beyond our typical waking states of consciousness to therapeutically address a problem, transpersonal approaches invite us to deepen our intuitive connections and commune with the energetic information that rises to the surface. Some other approaches to altered states of consciousness that transpersonally oriented therapists may offer include breathwork, hypnosis, visualization, dreamwork, drumming, and meditation.

All of these states can be likened to normal states of daydreaming, “zoning out” (such as while driving), or restful states. They are natural ranges of human experience that, when intentionally entered, offer us resources from which to draw beyond those of our shared material realm. It is from these states of being that we transcend our perceived limitations and invite our dormant potentials, infinite as the stars in the sky, to awaken and serve us.


Family soul healing. (n.d.). Retrieved from

© Copyright 2018 All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Katrina Michelle, PhD, LCSW, Topic Expert

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