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The Power of Family Constellations On Health

Aug 30, 2016 10:42PM
by Dr. Isabel Sharkar
Emotional and psychological wellness is a result of what we think, learn, experience and suffer, and how we interpret our lives. Additionally, we are influenced by the energy we receive from our ancestors. The flow of qi (energy) that is available to us from our parents (alive or deceased), is dependent on our ability to open up to them, how much we can respect and honor them. According to Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, who has been practicing family constellations for over 15 years, when we look back at our ancestry it must be with respect whereas looking forward must be with love.

There are many things that may stand in the way of embracing the simple love of our parents, grandparents and more distant ancestors—traumatic childhood experiences, misunderstandings and the consequences of neglect, blame and non-forgiveness. Illness is often and largely a consequence of unhealed wounds in the distant past, often several generations back.

Major shifts in health and well-being, perception and understanding are possible from family constellation work. There is no time and space in this work, allowing for true healing across all generations.

What is a family constellation?

Family Constellation is a trans-generational therapeutic intervention based in family systems therapy, existential-phenomenology and the ancestral traditions of the South African Zulus. The founder of this work is Bert Hellinger, a German psychotherapist and family therapist who studied and treated families for more than 50 years. Hellinger discovered that the family system, just like any other system, has its own natural order and when that order is disrupted, the effects are felt by subsequent generations as the system tries to right itself.

There are certain natural laws in place to maintain the order in the family and permit the free flow of love between family members. In the family system, each member of the family should take their appropriate and actual place, take care of his or herself and avoid intervening in others destiny. There are fundamental needs that exist in all of the relationships in a system—the need to belong (bonding), the need to maintain a balance of giving and taking (equilibrium) and the need for the safety of social convention and predictability (order).

When there is a disruption to the natural order of the system, the destiny of one person in the family is entangled detrimentally into another family member’s life and the effects of these entanglements can be felt by subsequent generations. As a consequence, these effects are manifested as: suicide, depression, childlessness, mental or physical illness and addictions.

Each constellation begins with a thorough investigation of one’s own family history. We search for those in the family that died early and were forgotten, husbands and wives that were betrayed, cheated on or separated from their children and loved ones, those whose love was not seen, who were disabled, ill or addicted, ridiculed or marginalized. We also look into family members that may have been perpetrators, murderers or victims, shamed, abused or abandoned. The participant then selects from the audience representatives for his or herself and those family members in question. Soon the participants start to think, feel and behave as if they were the very people whom they are representing and the hidden dynamics in a family are revealed and accurately depicted.

The net outcome is an increased flow of love and compassion between the real family members. Physical illness that has not responded to any other healing modality often changes its course for the better. Family Constellations allow us to break trans-generational patterns so that we can live healthier, happier, more fulfilled lives. In a moment of insight, a new life course can be set in motion within a family system and the results can be life changing.

Isabel Sharkar, ND, is a licensed naturopathic physician and co-owner of Indigo Integrative Health Clinic, in Georgetown. For more information, call 202-298-9131 or visit


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