Family Constellations


Systemic Family Constellations is a method that extremely fast can reveal where the problems are hidden or emanating from. Often it shows dynamics that go back to -traumatic-experiences our grand parents or other family members in the past have gone through. As clinical psychology sciences shows: traumas can reverberate through generations. The information revealed in sessions can be mind-blowing but very real and the insights help to make quick shifts and release. 

Example1:

A 4 year old girl decides one day to stop totally and entirely talking to anyone outside of her family. It continued over a few years and no therapy was effective. The situation was a very complicated for the -very patient and loving- parents and certainly in the school. When the hidden dynamics, the transferred pain and shock-came to the surface, the problem resolved.

What happened? Her grandfather was 4 years old and moved from the USA to another country where another language was spoken. As happened so often, the child was put in the care of others who didn’t speak his language but another one. So, corporal punishment because of “not listening”, was the result. A  speechless shock for the boy, who must have felt extremely disconnected and abandoned. When this man became an adult, he became a father and divorced when his son was 4 years old. He told him not to call him “dad” anymore, which is a speechless act as well. It is this son, who later becomes the dad of a child that refuses to speak to anyone, starting at the age of 4.  A simple child-style constellation finally could stop the effects of the burden.

Example 2:

Eitan’s dad passed when he was 5 years old. A few years later, the mother’s boyfriend who became a father figure to her 2 boys, was completely rejected by Eitan. It gave a lot of stress at home.

A group constellation with the then 7 year old boy and 8 adults (strangers for Eitan) learned that when Eitan “received permission” from his deceived father he felt free to embrace and allow the new partner of his mother in his heart. The special process in the constellation made visible and possible what just by speaking alone didn’t work. Several years later, they are still enjoying each others company.

Example 3:

The footprint method used in private sessions.

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With his grandmother, 9 year old Jimmy came for a session to my office.  I was the last therapist to try before they would put Jimmy on medication for ADHD and hyperactivity.

Grandma was the caretaker for Jimmy and his sister because their parents were divorced and unable to take care of their children. Grandma spoke very negatively about her ex-daughter in law. “She‘s a horrible mother, a drug addict. She’s not even paying child-support.”  Jimmy looked away while she spoke. For me the task was to elicit some empathy from grandmother for Jimmy’s mother, who was seemingly immersed in her own problems. Being addicted to drugs never occurs because of happy reasons.

Grandma was not open to hear any other vision than her own.


I asked Jimmy to “map his family” with colored footprints he would choose from, and to put them in the open space on the floor that we call “the field”. Spontaneously he put the footprints wherever he felt like. He chose a pair of footprints for himself, his mother, father, sister and grand- parents. We added the dog too. 

I asked Jimmy  to put shapes that are representing feelings next to the footprints where ever he would feel comfortable.  Those feelings would then  be seen as belonging to the footprints of that person.

Jimmy put next to everyone  “love” but not for himself. He put “sadness” to his mother’s footprints and also to his own. He put “anger” next to his father’s prints.
The mapping shows the inner picture of how Jimmy perceives his family and ultimately his world. He was obviously feeling lonely, disconnected from his parents, but supported by grandparents, and had no love for himself (!).
The way he positioned his own feet showed a deep longing for his mother. It became clear how he was connected to his mother, which was with sadness and pain. He peeked from the corners of his eyes to his grandmother, almost afraid of what she would think from all this and he saw that she was tearing up.

This picture made her realize that it is detrimental for the boy when she speaks negatively about his mother. His feelings need to be respected. Even a troubled mother wants to be loved by the child, and deserves respect for wherever and whatever she is going through.  Most importantly, regardless of the situation, the child will love his mother. The child needs to have positive feelings about his parents. which can be very difficult and conflicting. Tearing natural family ties apart can cause restlessness and depression.

It is our judging that can hurt others so much.  One session seemed to be enough to have Jimmy‘s behavior change.  The need for medication was gone.


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This work is done in groups and privately:

http://carlavanwalsum.com/energypsychologyfamilyconstellations/