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AN INTRO TO INTERGENERATIONAL TRAUMA AND FAMILY CONSTELLATIONS

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300 Harrisburg Ave.

Lancaster, PA 17603

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Let’s imagine that the problems you carry – in your relationships, your career or business, your health and in your thoughts – didn’t start with you. Let's consider that you are carrying the threads of these burdens from past generations – even from maybe hundreds of years ago.

The newly emerging therapeutic approach of Family and Systemic Constellations give us new ways to sort through our life challenges and help us look to our ancestors for the roots of many of the struggles that we experience today.

Family Constellations, which may be best described as an experiential approach to family systems, was developed by Bert Hellinger, a German psychotherapist, about 30 years ago.

With increasing studies that document that traumatic experiences are passed from generation to generation, both familial and cultural, this alternative method has been popular in Europe, Russia and Latin American and is now becoming known throughout the United States. It is drawing not only mental health professionals but also physicians, consultants, educators, coaches, community activists, clergy and alternative health practitioners.

Systemic Constellations explore the elements within a system — family, organization, business and the like — through a process that is phenomenological and experiential. It presumes that there is a field of “knowing” that allows us to discover unseen information and discern the natural order of the system that must be respected for the greatest good of the group.

The practitioner bypasses the client’s story for incidents of great trauma or loss, for instance, early or premature deaths, suicide, miscarriages, abortions, war, serious financial losses and the like. The idea is that these traumas filter into later generations and contribute to depression, anxiety, health problems and struggles with relationships.

The facilitator — as the practitioner is called — typically works in a group setting although others employ guided imagery or use small figures on a table, similar to sand tray, when working with individuals.

There is a growing list of books (as well as many YouTube videos) that discuss and demonstrate the method and the philosophy behind it. Of special interest should be any books by Bert Hellinger (“Acknowledging What Is” and “Love’s Hidden Symmetry” are considered classics). More recently, “It Didn’t Start with You” by U.S. psychologist Mark Wolynn has been attracting the interest and praise from both professionals and laypersons for its examples of successful treatment and clear explanation of the method.

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300 Harrisburg Ave.

Lancaster, PA 17603

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