Where are you in the family? Imagine it in space

Family horoscopes are getting more and more popular. During this constellation session, you can allow yourself to be surrounded by unknown people, who, for example, portray your father and mother, and in this way gain more self-understanding. Online, you’ll find countless coaches who introduce themselves as “shapers,” reading lyrical stories of people who received life-altering visions in one afternoon. At the same time, the form of treatment has a floating connotation. Because what exactly do you do on a day like this? do you really work? And if so: how?

Salome Schultens is one of the few scholars researching this topic. After obtaining her PhD in epidemiology, she began her work as a teacher and trainer at the University of Groningen, during which time she came into contact with systemic horoscopes – which also includes family horoscopes. “I saw that the method worked, but the scientist in me wanted proof. Just: no research had been done. So I started looking into it myself, to scientifically put the topic on the map.”

What do you do in the family constellation?

“Imagine: You face the same problem over and over again in your life. Frequent quarrels, fear of commitment in intimate relationships, feelings of inferiority… Talking to a psychologist is not enough, because you cannot put your finger in the sore spot. In such a situation, you can choose Family constellation: This is a form of therapy in which you look for underlying causes with the help of a coach or psychologist and a group of unknown people.

“These others represent the members of your family: the social system upon which you have anchored your entire life, and which may underlie the repeating pattern. Depending on your story, they themselves take up their place in space—at any distance, and with their gaze directed toward or away from you, in such a way as to make it feel good.

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Then you let the board work on you and the trainer asks questions: What is it doing with you? What feelings or thoughts are emerging? Participants representing your family can also share their experiences. It’s all with the aim of giving you more insight into your social structure and the patterns and dynamics that may have arisen. about her.

This method was invented at the end of the last century by the German Bert Hellinger

Salome Schultens

Our language is full of expressions that emphasize the spatial aspect of social structures. The feeling of not being seen by your loved one. You feel the distance. close friends. Standing close to someone…

“In family horoscopes, these structures are already visualized, allowing you to develop new insights. You are shaping your inner picture with the help of the group, and then you can examine what it would do for you if your mother only had eyes for your sister, or if you felt everyone was passing you by. That way You can realize some feelings that you couldn’t put into words before.”

Is it a new trend?

Recently you hear more and more about this method, but the method was invented at the end of the last century by the German priest and psychotherapist Bert Hellinger. He often gave him words that could appear as mystical, and spoke, for example, of a “systematic field” that provides consciousness collectively and thus created new insights; the scientific basis was lacking. At first, it was viewed skeptically from a therapeutic angle.

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But people really felt that this method was helping them, and so the family group was adopted by a wider group of psychologists. Later, the term “constellation system” came into use, and the form of therapy was also applied to other social systems. In setting The team at work, for example, the starting question can also be more abstract: What goal do we want to achieve with this project? So it’s not always about personal problems.

Why is not much known about science?

“You often see this with therapies: first it turns out in practice that something works, and only then why something works. Consider, for example, meditation. This has been around for thousands of years, and at some point scientists became interested in it and mindfulness was born. .

“Although horoscopes are becoming more popular, there is still a mystical hue about them. Together with other scientists who deal with system clusters — someone from Finland, someone from Germany, someone from Canada — we want to understand and investigate the method. In this way we hope to contribute to Demystify it.

Participants put themselves in the shoes of their other family members more easily

Salome Schultens

“Publication is sometimes difficult. Some journals are reluctant to publish on this topic because it has not been scientifically proven, and at the same time we cannot yet prove it scientifically correctly because almost nothing has been published about it. A classic chicken and egg story. Besides, no “There is a large budget for this research, because it is so early. The participating scientists do research in addition to their regular jobs. For example, I have an appointment as a university lecturer and instructor, doing research more or less on the side.”

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Where do you start searching?

“First and foremost with a study of the literature. Together with these international colleagues, I analyzed what was already known from science about the effectiveness of systemic and family horoscopes. For example, studies were conducted in which people had to fill out questionnaires before and after a constellation to find out what If they actually benefited from treatment.Of the twelve studies on family horoscopes that we reviewed, nine actually showed a statistically significant improvement.

But most of those studies didn’t have a control group — a group that received a different treatment or no treatment. To truly prove the method scientifically, more efficacy studies are needed, with pre- and post-measurements and a control group.

“It is also interesting to see how long the effect of such a preparation lasts: for example, do people still benefit from it after a year? And there should be a standard protocol so that each preparation is done in basically the same way. Because now every trainer has Freedom to do it his own way.”

When is a family constellation successful?

Participants often report that after constellation they feel less of a victim of circumstance Self-efficacy – Confidence in their own abilities – is increasing. They also put themselves in the shoes of other family members more easily and thus broaden their view of the situation. You cannot change the past and your social system, but you can look at it with different eyes.

Infographics Jessie Celine

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