Family Constellation Work

In this episode, Kelle Sparta and Kathy Scheiern dive into the topic of Family Constellation Work. Kathy loves and uses Family Constellation Work in her method of coaching because of its powerful and effective healing work. Constellation Work has 3 primary branches – Structural, Organizational, and Family – and each functions differently. Family Constellation Work helps to heal family burdens that come down through the DNA lines. Kelle shares what you might experience in a Family Constellation session. Listen in to learn more.


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–Written by: Kelle Sparta

–Performed by: Kelle Sparta and Daniel Singer

–Produced by: Daniel Singer

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Family Constellation Work With Kathy Scheiern

I’m joined by Kathy Scheiern and we are going to talk about family constellation work. I’m super excited to have you here in talking about this. We have been talking about this for ages, and I can’t wait to share this with the audience. Welcome.

It’s great to be here. I have a number of favorite topics, but this one is a favorite because it’s powerful. It does such effective healing and is so immediate in the impact that it has that when I first learned it twenty years ago, I have been using it ever since. It has been an important part of my repertoire and coaching in helping people.

We have known each other for a very long time. As we have done our retreats over the years, you have built a lot of this work into the work that we have done, which has taken everything to the next level. First off, constellation work is not just family constellation work.

There are three primary branches. It started out as family constellation work, and then a branch came off for work with organizations. There was organizational constellation work, and then another branch came off that was structural constellation work. At this point in time, it all falls under the umbrella of constellation work. You just have to be clear about which particular arena you are working in. Each of them functions differently. If you are going to work in structural, then it doesn’t cross into the family, and family doesn’t cross into the organisation. It’s that kind of thing. Different rules and different methodologies.

Family constellation works started out as epigenetics work around the Holocaust.

It was an emergent practice by a former Jesuit who, in working with the Zulu, saw healing taking place around ancestral lines. Observationally, it worked. He came back and studied EST. He did a whole bunch of other things. He was doing psychodrama at the time. There was this other experience emerging from the field of the work, these other healing movements. His primary focus was healing work in ancestral lines, particularly in Germany around the Holocaust.

Victims, perpetrators, people who benefited or people who lost in that war, and their descendants were suffering from those burdens. The constellation work’s premise in family work is that family burdens track down through the DNA lines. You may not even know what your ancestor did, but you could be having a negative impact on your life because of it right now.

We have had some conversations about the healing of our ancestors. How does this fit into those criteria for the people who are reading? You and I have had this conversation, but if you are doing the work around ancestral stuff, how is that not healing your ancestors?

First of all, in family constellation work, it is an entanglement to think about. The premise is that life and love flow forward together. When things go badly, those lines of flow become entangled. One of the ways that we get entangled is to be literally bigger than we are. We are the descendants of our parents, our grandparents, and our great-grandparents. When we stand in a place that says, “Great-grandpa, I’m going to heal you,” we are being bigger and we are creating an entanglement in the constellation work.

That will not resolve itself well for us. At least in twenty-plus years of constellation work that I have been doing, great-grandpa isn’t going to like it all that much either because it’s none of your business, whipper snapper. It’s about his particular life, his choices, his burdens and his actions. The family constellation work is designed to allow life to go forward well for you. It’s to resolve entanglements for you. If they are adults, they got to do their own work, but if they are minor children, it also has a benefit to your children.

I want to set the stage for everybody so that they understand what a family constellation workpiece might look like. There are various incendiary versions of this and different ways to do things. If you were to attend a family constellation experience, you might see something like this, which is a circle of people in a room and there is a person who is on the hot seat. They are the client. They are the person whose work is being done.

Based on the work that they want to do, the person themselves will choose representatives for different people and/or aspects of things that are going on within that issue. They will choose someone to also represent themselves in the field because they want to be able to see from the outside what is going on and to watch the dynamics play out. If they are willing, the people in the circle are the people who will represent the different people and aspects.

If you attend, then it’s likely that you’ll be asked to represent if you are not a client. Even if you are, usually, there are several clients during a session. I have been a representative, so I will speak from that aspect. During that time, you will stand in that space and represent whoever that person or whatever that thing is in that scenario. The energy in that space is really clear. You’ll be there and be like, “This is amazing” For instance, I remember you talking about one scenario where somebody said they couldn’t feel their legs.

I was a representative in a constellation that somebody else facilitated. I was representing a woman’s father because there weren’t enough men. It’s not gender-specific. You can step into representational energy no matter what. Don’t forget the facilitator has a key role in defining the representatives that need to be picked and all the rest of that. The facilitator came up to me and said, “Dad, what’s going on with you?” I said, “I’m not much interested in what’s going on here, but it’s weird. I can’t move my arms.”

Family Constellation Work: Epigenetics is the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work.

If I stepped out of that representation, of course, I could move my arms. In that representation, my arms were immobilized. The constellation continued to unfold and the facilitator facilitated a healing movement with the representatives. Afterward, the client came up to me and said, “I wasn’t certain. This was a lot of hooey, but you showed me it was true.” I went, “Excuse me, why?” She goes, “You know nothing about me. You’ve never met my father. My father has MS and cannot move his arms.” When I reported out from the representational energy that I couldn’t move my arms, that’s when she knew that the energies in the field and the representatives were real. We were tapped into the actual energetics of the field and the issue.

This work is incredibly powerful. Right now, I can feel people out there going, “I don’t get what you are doing. I don’t understand.” We’ll take an example. I will use one from my life since I was the client. I was trying to work through issues with my dad. This was a long time ago. I was trying to work through issues with my dad, and I had somebody in the field representing me and somebody in the field representing my dad. There were other issues going around. I can’t remember exactly everything. It was a while ago. What was happening is I put the thing into the field. I said, “I want to find a way to come to a resolution with my father.”

That’s what it was as. I was angry with him and I was upset. We didn’t have a relationship and all this other stuff. I remember the person representing me who had never met my father, and the person representing him who had also never met him. The person representing me knew me but didn’t know me in relation to that. She knew me in a professional context. We had sold real estate together. She didn’t have any context for my emotional landscape in terms of how I dealt with stress and all that other stuff.

I remember you stopping her as she was reporting out because she had stepped so clearly into the representation of me. She was managing her emotions with her head and not reporting how she was feeling because that’s what I did. That’s exactly who I was at the time. I didn’t feel anything. I managed all my emotions with my head. That was a breakthrough moment for me in my life. I was like, “I do that.” Seeing it from the outside was very informative for me.

Oftentimes, it’s the observation of it that gives you an a-ha. You watch the people go through the process, and as they are moving through the process, they are moving the energy of the field. That field is the energetic of the dynamics that are going on. They are moving it, but they can’t move it without the client’s permission. The client is in control of the energetic. If I was unwilling or unable to accept a move in the field towards a healing space, then the field would just get stuck. I have seen that happen as I have gone through these sorts of things with you, where clients get to a certain point and they are like, “I’m not moving any further.” You can see them energetically dig in, and then it doesn’t move from there. It’s not common, but it has happened.

There are three ways a field will get stuck or collapse. One is the one you are describing, which is like, “No, I refuse to accept this.” This is a healing movement that I’m not buying into. They are making it up. I refuse to believe it. There’s another one where they get curious about their ancestors. They are like, “I want to know.” Again, it’s none of your business. Whatever your ancestors’ lives were, whatever the burdens were that they carried, whatever are the secrets that they kept, the whole point of the constellation is to allow the energy to unentangle. It isn’t to go snooping.

The ancestors in family constellation work won’t allow energy to flow. I have been in the field, and the field has been stuck. I will look at the client and say, “Are you curious? Do you want to know specifically what happened here?’ They went, “Yeah.” I said, “This isn’t going anywhere because that’s not your business. What we want is for healing energy to flow through to you so that your life goes on well, not so that you can snoop into your ancestors’ business.”

The last piece where it will collapse is it’s the emotional connection to the field that gives rise to it. It’s not an intellectual type of exercise. If it’s not something that’s important to you, if it’s not something you want to resolve or if it’s not something that is moving, then the field is stuck because there’s not enough energy in it to move forward.

We are hearing a lot about epigenetics right now in communities of color, specifically, African-American communities. Given that this rolls into that field. I just want to define that term for people. I’m reading this, “Epigenetics is the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work.” Is that what we were looking for? Is that what people have been talking about.

I want to be clear that we are talking about DNA. If anybody out there is adopted, the burdens come through the DNA lines. I’m not in any way negating adoption, but adoptive parents have the gift of stewarding life. Birth parents have the gift of giving life. In the giving of life through the DNA, burdens can come down through there. When I work with adopted clients, they have no idea what went on with their DNA ancestors most of the time, but you don’t have to know. That’s the point. Being curious about knowing isn’t the goal. The constellation itself for a client consists of two parts. In the first part, the client talks about what’s the issue. Why isn’t their life not going the way they want? What’s the entanglement? Where’s the pain?

The facilitator picks and says, “Let’s put up a representative for this one and this one based on their experience with how do we explore this.” The first part of the actual constellation is an exploration of the issue like where does this come from? Sometimes, the facilitator will get an immediate hit on how to resolve it, and they won’t have to do the exploration. A traditional constellation is the exploration moving into the resolution. Sometimes that can be straight to the resolution. They can do them blindly. You may not know who you are representing. That one gets wild because the representatives can only deal with the energy.

If you don’t know whether your mom, dad, the client or whomever, you are just representative number one. The client knows who you are and the facilitator knows who you are, but nobody else does. The morphic field of the constellation and the issue gives the energy because life and love want to flow. The whole point of this is that these entanglements want to be resolved. None of the ancestors suffered, lived, died, raised four children or whatever to see life suck for them. That wasn’t the point. I’m going to have kids and make their lives suck.

There’s this whole movement in that flow to allow life to go on well for the living. The constellation facilitator is called a facilitator to facilitate what already wants to happen, to allow the energies to unentangle, and for the client to receive the fullness of life and love so that they have that to fuel their steps forward into a better future.

Would it be safe to say that the more trauma that your ancestral line has experienced, the more potential entanglements there would be within that family line?

Family Constellation Work: A traditional constellation is the exploration moving into the resolution.

Unfortunately, yes. The constellations are very effective at resolving an issue. The problem is there are usually multiple issues and you got two parents. There are issues coming in from the father’s line and issues coming in from the mother’s line. I don’t know anybody who has ever gone through life without anything. When you start going back to the ancestral line and you look at the wars, the challenges, and the depression, there’s so much stuff.

In the African-American community, you’ve got slavery on top of it. In the native American community, you have genocide. It’s huge stuff. It’s one piece at a time, obviously, but could all of it be addressed through family constellation work?

It’s a qualified yes because if there’s active trauma going on, it’s still as if the trauma is happening to them. It can be more difficult for constellation work to be in there. Constellation work is not a replacement for therapy. It is a healing movement, but it is not a replacement for therapy. What I usually tell people is that if you are actively being traumatized, resolve the trauma first. Constellation work can then do the healing work around why this trauma shows up in your life or why are these things showing up for you, and release that so that you can get through it and be done with it.

I’m going to throw you a curve ball of wild hair. What about people who say their families have been cursed? Is that something that would show up in a constellation or is that something that would be different?

That kind of energy can show up in a constellation. I have seen it happen. I wasn’t the facilitator at the time. There was an active very negative energy in the field. Again, you can’t be curious. It’s not whether it was a curse. Whatever it was, it was very active in the field. What that facilitator did was he called in two representatives for angels, and had the angels escort the negative energy out of the room.

There are three people here now. The people that stepped in to represent angels and the person that ended up representing evil, unfortunately. That energy came out of the field, right out in the hallway and close the door, and so the healing movement was allowed to resolve itself. He went and checked out on the hall and said, “You evil energy.” Not to call it evil energy, but what’s going on with you, and it’s like, “I feel better out here. I’m done with that.”

The only one that I have ever stopped a person from representing is I have done some constellations that ended up with Holocaust energy. We always use a pillow, a chair or something for the energy of those people who died. We never make anybody step into that because it’s too burdensome. The thing is everybody in the field, there is no question about what it is. We don’t need to have it reported out or investigate anything. It’s a defining energetic representation.

Can you give an example of some things that people might come to family constellation work for?

It can be almost anything. I had a constellation that I did quite some time ago where the person was in between jobs or want a new job. They needed a new resume and could not, for the life of them, claim their skills. Everything they wrote made them sound like a low-level clerk. We knew who this person was and we knew that their skillset was much higher than that. This person came to a constellation. They said, “I have no idea why this would help me write a better resume, but I’m willing to try anything because I’m so stuck.” There was a lot of power in the field because there was a lot of energy behind, “I’m tired of being stuck.”

I got representational energy. We did the family thing. It came up that about three generations prior, the great-great-grandmother had passed away. The woman’s sister or the great-great-aunt had stepped in to take care of the children, but she refused to honor the mother’s place. She wouldn’t let the kids talk about the mom. She wouldn’t let them refer to her or anything of that.

One of the entanglements that can happen in a constellation is that somebody lost their place, ostracized, left out, forgotten about or specifically kicked out “of the family.” You can’t do that from a DNA standpoint because everybody belongs. If somebody has been kicked out, one of the burdens that will come down the line is exclusion. People will feel like, “I never get included, I can’t claim my skills,” or things along that line because they unconsciously align with the excluded ones. In the constellation, we put great-great-grandma back in her spot and honored her as the mother in the lineage. That was the healing movement we’ve done.

The client was going, “What the heck does that have to do with my resume?” What I told the client was, “Just take it easy. Go home, sit on it, let it percolate, and let the energy flow. We unentangled something. Let that thing be unentangled and let it flow down to you, and then see what happens. Call me in 3 to 4 days, at most a week, and let me know what’s going on.” Four days later, I got a call and this person was a skeptic, to begin with. What they said was, “I have no idea why that had anything to do with my resume, but I have completely rewritten it. I have all my skillsets where they need to be. I have completely claimed everything. I have gotten it signed on by the job place that this is the resume that will get me my next job.”

It’s not always logical which is why if you are going to look for constellation work, you want to train the facilitator. Somebody would say, “I went to a couple of workshops so I’m going to hang up my shingle and constellate because it’s easy.” It’s not. The training to be a constellation facilitator is rigorous. You want somebody who has your best interests at heart. That client could have bullied me and said, “That isn’t solving my problem.” I stood my ground and said, “This is what you asked for and this is what emerged. Allow it to unfold,” and it did. People bring their stories to workshops. The point of stories is that they get grooved and they do not allow for healing. They perpetuate entanglements. You got to be willing to let go of the stories for entanglements to be resolved.

Pretty much anything for family constellation work.

Family Constellation Work: Constellation work has been around for 30 years and is widely known and practiced in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

I have seen illnesses resolve where there’s a very powerful movement that happens and a very powerful burden. It’s called pull towards death. You may know or people may have heard of families whereby at a certain age the males die. It’s not old age. They are all committing suicide or something by 35, and it goes on for generations. That’s a pull toward death energy in the field.

If you can get to someone before that age, and if they are willing to go through the work, you can release them from that burden so that the pull towards death does not act on them. They no longer have to be loyal to the family. They no longer have to follow that path. It’s from that, which is deeply powerful work to putting great-great-grandma back in her place so you can write your resume. This client was being loyal that she was refusing to step into her place. She was refusing to acknowledge her gifts because great-great-grandma hadn’t been acknowledged.

It’s failure to thrive, failure to claim your place, and trying to get away from the pull towards death. It’s pretty much any trauma.

As long as it’s not active. In relationships, why do I keep picking a certain type of person to be in a relationship with it, and then it doesn’t work? Why does my family make money and then lose it over and over again? Why can’t I hang on to money? It’s things like that because there may be some point in the past where somebody in your family and your lineage unduly benefited from somebody else’s suffering, and you are in alignment with that. You now cannot benefit because you are in alignment with the suffering part. In family constellations, there is so much stuff that can come out of the field, which is why the first part of the constellation is often an exploration to try and determine what’s the right direction for what the client is presenting.

That is deep and rich and complex and all sorts of fun stuff. We are going to be doing an episode on each of these types of constellation work. This was the family constellation piece. We will be doing additional episodes on the structural and the organizational pieces as well so that you guys can get a feel for what this is about. This is part of our work on talking about different types of practices that are available for your healing and how you can go about doing that. I will say be very careful choosing a facilitator for this because your mileage may vary greatly, depending on who you go to get this work from. Be very careful about that. Any final thoughts about this for the audience before we wrap up?

I find it interesting and I know you have an international audience. Constellation work has been around for 30 years at least, and it is widely known and widely practiced in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and all across the world. It is a known and sought-after healing modality, except in the United States. Here, it is much less known and much less understood. I want to say thank you for the opportunity to talk about it to your audience because it is a powerful healing modality that more people could use competent access to.

That’s all we have for this episode. Don’t forget to rate, like, share and join the mailing list. Don’t forget. There’s the Boundaries for Empaths download on the website. There’s also a new video on the website which is the Stages of Healing. That is super informative as well. Make sure you check that out. That’s all we have for this episode. Tune in next time when I share another episode on energy, magic, and the spirit world. So long, everyone.

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