Unlocking the Hidden Trauma in the Family System: An Introduction to Family Constellation Work

Mar 04, 2023

“When entangled, you unconsciously carry the feelings, symptoms, behaviors, or hardship of an earlier member of your family system as if these were your own” -Mark Wolynn


Have you ever felt like a certain family pattern or dynamic seems to repeat itself generation after generation, no matter how hard you try to break it? This is an experience that many of us have had, and it’s one that can be incredibly difficult to break free from. Enter Family Constellation Work - a healing practice with roots in psychotherapy and Family Systems Theory. This powerful form of therapy has been used to help people understand and heal deep-rooted trauma within their families. Let's take a closer look at this fascinating healing practice.


What is Family Constellation Work?

Family constellation work was developed by German psychotherapist Bert Hellinger in the 1980's as a way to explore and address traumas within family systems. At its core, this healing practice is based on the idea that each family has an underlying structure or “constellation” which may contain hidden secrets and unspoken truths about our ancestors which can influence current generations. By exploring these constellations through role-playing exercises, we can gain insight into how these past traumas are impacting our present lives and relationships with others.


How Does It Work?

During a typical session of Family Constellation Work, the therapist will ask each participant to take on the role of various members of their extended family such as parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. Representatives from outside the immediate family might also be used if needed. This allows each participant to become deeply immersed in what it feels like to inhabit another person’s body and experience life from their perspective. Through this process, participants can begin to uncover hidden dynamics within their families which may have been passed down for generations without their knowledge or awareness.

Photo credit: Shane Rounce @Unsplash

The Importance of Representation

Family constellation work relies heavily on having representatives stand in for various people who are not actually present during the session such as deceased relatives or birth parents who were never known by the participant(s). Having these surrogates helps create an atmosphere of understanding and respect for all involved as well as illustrate how our ancestors can still influence us today even though they are no longer living. It also allows participants to connect more deeply with those who cannot be physically present during the session thus furthering their understanding of themselves and their families while also honoring those who came before them.



Family Constellation Work is an incredibly powerful tool for understanding and healing trauma that has been passed down through generations within a family system. By exploring these hidden dynamics through role-playing exercises with representatives standing in for absent members, participants can gain insight into how past traumas are impacting their present lives while honoring those who came before them. If you or someone you know is struggling with deep-rooted trauma within your family system, consider looking into family constellation work as an effective way to begin your healing journey today!

Photo credit: Annie Spratt @Unsplash

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