Having been an avid researcher on the method known as family constellations I asked Leslie Nipps, NLP practitioner and family constellation facilitator to share her wisdom on how the method can be applied to couples seeking connection or resolution in their relationship. Since my personal goal in 2010 is to find my true love I asked Leslie how utilizing constellations in one’s personal growth can be beneficial before and after finding the love of one’s life. I still have hope that the real “Captain America” (read my 2009 Year End article for the story behind the name) will show up this year! To learn more about Leslie go to www.leslienipps.com.
How have you applied the constellation method for couples work?
When couples have a difficulty of any kind, they often experience total confusion about what the source of the difficulty could possibility be. They are so deeply inside the relationship, it impossible to see the whole system that the two of them create together, and which they brought together from their two families. How can we see the whole? How can we see what is causing distress, hurt, fear or obstacles in a relationship that is otherwise filled with love?
Family Constellations were created by Bert Hellinger to unveil the intricacies of family systems through the generations, and to re-solve entanglements across those generations. He discovered that by accessing what he calls “The Knowing Field,” or what Rupert Sheldrake calls “Morphogenetic Fields,” we can access the family soul that exists and interacts outside of ordinary time and space. Remarkably, we can see systemic structures at that level that are structuring our day to day experience of life, and make powerful interventions at the family soul level that can change the experience of individuals and families for the better.
It didn’t take Hellinger long, however, to discover that through constellation work it was possible to access and intervene in a wide variety of systems, not just generational family ones. “Business constellations” have become a powerful tool for organizational inquiry and transformation. And couples can use constellations to understand better their own systemic interactions, as well as the family system issues they brought into the relationship and may be causing difficulties.
As for family and business constellations, the purposes can range from simply diagnostic—“What’s going on here?”—to making interventions on behalf of the couple and whatever they might be wanting differently in the relationship. A common purpose for couples to seek constellation help is a desire to have a child that they haven’t been able to fulfill. What is standing in the way of having children? Is there an entanglement “upstream” in one or both of the couples’ families? This would be a more conventional family constellation format, although in this case, involving two families. Or, perhaps, there is something systemic in the couples’ relationship that has guaranteed that no children come from their relationship? If that’s the case, constellation work can beautifully reveal the unconscious contracts, beliefs, or stances the two of them may have together.
Another reason for a couple to have a constellation is when there is conflict they haven’t been able to resolve. Sometimes, it is nearly impossible in a traditional one-on-one therapeutic setting really to get to the heart of what they are battling over, or what is unconsciously at stake. Constellations can clarify what otherwise seems cloudy, complex and impossibly entangled.
One couple came to me for this kind of assistance. They deeply loved each other, but the woman, especially, was experiencing a lot of fear and an incomprehensible need to flee. The constellation first showed the interaction clearly. Every time the representative for the man reached closer to the representative for the woman, she moved further away. Eventually that representative left the room completely, and reported to the facilitator that there was no distance that was far enough away. The constellation ended there with the clarity that the needs of these two people may be so incompatible that they may not be able to be overcome these differences. Another couple that was becoming estranged had a more conventional constellation, in which is was revealed that there was a curse from the woman’s family from her originating country in which the couple were deeply entangled. The constellation beautifully resolved the entanglement so that they were free to pursue the relationship with their parents’ blessing.
Couples that have been divorced also come for constellations, especially to find a right relationship so that they can properly parent their children. A very important sentence that we often ask such estranged parents to say to each other is “Thank you for being exactly who I asked you to be.” Another one is “Thank you for the children.” Finally, for the children in a constellation, it is often important to hear “I love your father (mother) in you.” Such sentences, although they may sound very difficult in the midst of conflict, are actually profoundly liberating, and allow the free flow of love once again. This is the goal of couples constellation work.
This sounds great. Is it possible to have a couples constellation done for someone who is single and looking for a relationship but is having a very hard time finding one due to an entanglement?
Yes. It’s possible to bring any issue whatsoever to a constellation. If we do an appropriate resolution on the entanglement related to relationships, then at the end we often bring in a representative for “future potential partner” as a way to help the client feel and step into the experience of finding and being with that person. It can be quite remarkable…
I had a constellation done on relationships this but part of me still feels like more needs to be done on disentangling myself from family energy around marriage and family life. Is it possible to need or feel the need to do more than one constellation on the same relationship issue?
A single constellation usually focuses on one entanglement (although I’ve seen constellations that have addressed several in the client’s family at one time). An issue can have several sources in the family history. So, if one entanglement is re-solved, there can still be other entanglements that are stabilizing the issue.
Also, there are definitely times when the client’s system simply is not ready for a complete re-solution; there are plenty of part A, part B, and part C constellations, esp. for really big issues, like depression or loneliness. We only move things as much as is possible; we always want to remain respectful of the family system and what it is ready for.