Bert Hellinger "Bert Hellinger acknowledges several important influences on his life and work: his parents, whose faith immunized him against accepting Hitler's National Socialism; his 20 years as a priest, particularly as a missionary to the Zulu; and his participation in interracial, eucumenical training in group dynamics led by Anglican clergy. After leaving the priesthood, he studied psychoanalysis, and eventually developed an interest in Gestalt Therapy and Transactional Analysis. It was in Hellinger's later training in family therapy that he first encountered the family constellations that have become the hallmark of his therapeutic work - an approach to which he has added new levels of meaning and possibility." from Love's Hidden Symmetry.
More information: www.hellinger.com
Entanglements If a family suffers a heavy fate, its members will look for a way to deal with the consequences. Very often, the way that is chosen may have unfavourable effects in the next generation and entanglements arise.
For example, if a child dies during or shortly after birth, the parents may deal with their grief by trying to get on with life and forgetting about this child. They do not really give the child a rightful place in the family. In the future, that child is not counted as one of the children in the family and is somehow erased. It is self-evident that the next-born child will then feel like a first-born instead of a younger sibling. This creates confusion for all the children in that family . If a child who is born later is given the same name as the child who died, there may be great confusion about identity.
Another example of such an entanglement is when the eldest daughter replaces her mother who is ill or who has died. The entanglement arises when the family members forget, after a while, that the work is being done in service of the mother and the family, and only for the time and situation needed. Instead, after some time, the daughter takes the position of mother, with all the responsibilities and advantages of a parent, and loses her own position as a child.
Entanglements are the root of many severe problems in families such as, incest, depression, illness, accidents, and suicide.
Entanglements in organisations This work can easily be transferred to work with organisational systems. One major difference between a family system and an organisational system is that a person can freely enter and leave an organisation, but not a family. As in families, it is the case that exclusion leads to entanglements.
In organisations entanglements usually exist in situations where there have been unjust dismissals, or when the work of predecessors has not been respected, or when other 'orders' are disregarded (e.g. seniority, importance for the company, etc.).
The effects of such entanglements can be felt by everyone and may prevent members of an organisation from assuming a position of leadership or cooperation.
A constellation of the organisational system, may bring these dynamics to light.
The Orders More than 25 years of practical experience with this method has revealed the existence of certain orders and their meaning for the human beings in a system. One cannot draw any common moral rules from these orders. A constellation itself shows only what the order is in a particular situation. When everybody in a constellation feels relaxed in his or her position, and things feel 'right', we can assume that things are in order, i.e. following the order that is right for that system. These orders are not laws, or universal truths, and there are often exceptions.
Phenomenological approach Bert Hellinger works from a specific therapeutic attitude during his work with constellations. He does not attempt to explain, help or solve what is going on, but rather enters the void within himself as a part of the field. From that place, he is able to see the solutions which arise out of the 'knowing field'. This is what he calls a phenomenological approach.
Systemic 'Systemic' means that we encounter the phenomena as they reveal themselves within their context and history. This approach focusses on the interrelations between people rather than on linear cause- and-effect connections. In constellations, we do not look on the individual's habits and behaviour, but focus, rather, on the dynamics operating in the system. We look at the serious events which have shaped the history of a family-those events, which have challenged the family members to find new solutions. In this work we try to find better solutions for all the members of the system.
The Soul The concept of soul in this work is not used in a theological sense but in a phenomenological sense. "Soul knows things like loneliness, hope, longing, closeness to others and loyalty. If we listen to it carefully, it tells us what it needs and loves. The essence of this work is to help people distinguish what soul loves and needs from the blind pressure of social conditioning, religious prejudice and political ideology." Hunter Beaumont in "Love's Hidden Symmetry"