I am grateful to all individuals who have summoned to share some insights about their constellation experience. In some instances, names are fully disclosed, at times only initials are provided to meet privacy concerns. Constellation work addresses deep seated issues in the life of an individual. Respectfully, I honor the courage of sharing some insights, for the benefit of others who want to consider the potential value of constellations for their own healing process.
My second constellation therapy was in early Fall of 2011. I did not plan on it, but since there were some changes in my son, I went to the workshop with the hope that it will help me. Since this workshop, I learned more about myself, and I am now able to see my relationship with my son from a different perspective. Now I am free from being overly attached to my son. At both workshops, whenever I thought to help my son, it turned out that it was me who needed to be worked on. And while the workshops focused on my own situation, also my son has changed so much. Similar positive changes then occurred in my relationship with other family members as well.
When I represented others, for example being a girlfriend, I noticed how my occasional immature decisions had affected others. I was able to see myself from a different point of view. In both workshops, I was amazed how skillfully Dr. Essl guided the process. Even at times when I couldn't believe what I heard and saw from the presenters, I trusted the process which opened my mind to embrace the "outcomes."
S.M.S., MFT Trainee
I have enough background to know that family issues cannot just be ignored without problems persisting in following generations. But in the constellation workshop I could see this pattern lived out in the lives of complete strangers as well as in my own. It was quite striking. Also striking is how bringing such hidden information to conscious awareness actually heals.
Throughout the process I was aware and appreciative of how attentive Brigitte Essl was to what was going on with the person about whom the constellation was being done. I was especially conscious of how Brigitte had really studied and absorbed what I had communicated to her about my family of origin dynamics, as well as to what my desires were for doing the constellation.
P. D., Psychotherapist
A few months later and quite unexpectedly, my mother received money from a family member who owed her since a long time, but had refused to pay back up to this point. One year later, my mother lost 20 pounds, is financially stable, and I have never seen her so happy and self-confident. This was exactly my intention for the workshop, and I am very confident that Brigitte's powerful work made it possible. I cannot thank her enough and recommend Brigitte to all of my clients and friends.
Now I am healthy, strong, and more positive, still learning what to do with all my energy. And everything started with family constellation. My family connections, my broken up relationship with my mother, siblings and my aunt started healing, even my brother turned carefully to our mother after 40 years of silence between them. The somewhat tense and very cautious communication with my three children has improved toward a more relaxed, open, and joyful friendship and love. My children have changed, being more balanced and grounded in themselves. Now I can talk to my son without restraint about our problems and concerns, and also my daughters are more free and open to me.
Important to know, that I live in California while all my family lives in Europe: the healing power of family constellation has worked over thousands of miles. Constellation work has rearranged and healed my family bindings across the ocean and through generations, brought out the positive in our connections and the love and care between my family members, which in turn helped me to be connected with my essence and be more definite in what is good and right for myself and more independent of what (I think that) other people expect me to be and do and say and think. Of course, things are not perfect, still moving, but always moving to the better. There is still work to be done, but family constellation has opened for me the doors to a richer life.
There is a palpable field of community support, trust, and emotional safety that Brigitte creates with the participants, providing a depth of work that is hard, near impossible, to achieve in just 2 days (trust me, I teach facilitation skills to others!). I believe it is Brigitte's rare blend of gentleness and rigor as a facilitator that supports this depth. As she navigates the complex territory of human despair and celebration, we all are transformed—whether as representative or as participant.
In fact, being a representative is worth a paragraph of its own. Even though I originally attended for healing-work with my own family system, the experience of being a representative has offered a subtle yet priceless gift: I have more internal trust in myself—my sensations, impressions, intuition—after "standing in" for various individuals in other constellations. Being able to distinguish what is mine and what is in response to another is a powerful distinction for healthy relationships in general, not just for therapeutic settings. I had a life-shifting experience after having represented someone who was extremely violent. To have "stood in the shoes of" such anger and hatred ironically has given me more compassion and tenderness for the wide range of human experience, with an unexpected new freedom in meeting others with less assumption and judgment.
Oh and PS: The breakthroughs I've experienced with family members still living are worth the price of admission alone. I just wanted to acknowledge the less obvious, yet intensely gratifying additional benefits of this transformational work.
Susan S., Leadership Consultant
Beyond its effect on our children, on whose behalf we did this work, it was powerful to witness our family constellation work in action. It seemed to make so clear the dynamics that we have known about but not seen in this way. It is powerful work and has a profound effect on the psyche. We feel that it is the greatest gift we can give our children—to address the long-forgotten issues of our relatives, the pains and sometimes surprises in our past that we have simply pushed away. It was wonderful to connect in this work with our family "soul." We both found it enriching.
Lastly, the work of "representing" to me felt like being "the eyes of the creator." It was such an honor to stand among fellow humans feeling the flow of other families' stories. I worried initially that I would not be "good" at it—I had no idea what to expect. But the work is truly moving and powerful, positively. It is a natural feeling to stand with others representing people whose stories you do not know but you actually feel. It made me feel so much more connected to all life and it solidified my vague sense that we are more than the flesh and bones we walk around in. My own sense of spirituality was unexpectedly ratcheted up about 4000% as a result. This was a side benefit I had not expected.
I would recommend this work to anyone who has tried traditional "talk therapy" and felt it wanting. The sacred space that is created, the powerful and naked emotional truth of those who are represented is precious, potent, and positive.
I am grateful to Brigitte for her sensitivity and expertise and for her love of the Family Constellation process. The constellation was complex and contained different threads of many stories. Brigitte made the process seem effortless, and yet so much transpired. Knots came undone, hard places softened, and confused places became clear. What has unfolded since that time has been surprisingly deep. The place where I had been stuck for many years has seemed to evaporate. And now that the stuck place is gone, I am moving forward in my work with more ease and clarity.
I would recommend doing a Family Constellation workshop with Brigitte to anyone—no matter if you are working on a difficult life issue or are simply curious about the work.
Consequently, three issues unfolded during my workshop—a reconnection to my primal ancestors, healing unrequited love, and acknowledgement of shadow families. Because of the mystery that surrounded the break within our family, Brigitte went above and beyond logic to explore my system, using both her intuition and sensitivity to delve deeper. As the story unfolded, we witnessed and honored the guidance of a tribal matriarchal figure; we processed an intense energetic interaction between my great-grandmother and a lover; and we raised our shadow family into light. With Brigitte’s effective and grounded facilitation, she was able to integrate healing into the system through acknowledgement, forgiveness, and acceptance.
As the blocked channels continue to clear slowly, I am anticipating love, healing, and blessings to flow better through the generations. Within the past year, we have experienced many obstacles cross our paths; however, I have observed a stronger sense of identity developing and an emergence of inner strength, especially among the female members of my family. I see a redefinition of the identity to honor the Self, rather than losing it for others’ sake.
In fact, just recently, my mother experienced one of the biggest abandonment of her life. But rather than falling into her previous habit of depression and self-blame, she became proactive in asking for help and support, taking better care of herself, and remaining positive and open to connections and opportunities. I myself have always been active in my personal and spiritual growth, but much more so now after the constellation. I am driven to heal the male aspect of my self and work through my self-esteem and commitment issues. I still continue to struggle with my shadow, but I try to keep an open heart and trust the healing process. I now carry great lessons through this experience--how deeply interwoven we all are; how our actions, big or small, greatly affects all; and how we exist to love and be loved.
II. Memorable Experiences from the Constellation Process: I truly believe in the importance of this work because it deals with the root of the problem—physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. The constellation allows us to truly see our issues and lessons because we are outside of the situation, rather than being caught in the thick of things. As a third-party person looking in, I believe this is where the integration is most effective.
I have attended three constellation workshops within the last year and the process never ceases to amaze me. First and foremost, Brigitte really honors her clients’ privacy and ensures she creates sacred space for this work. Since the workshops deal with intense and deep-rooted issues, she makes sure that the participants are grounded throughout. As a representative, I was able to walk in other people’s shoes. Through experiencing different personalities, gender, events, and even locations, I now carry a better understanding and appreciation for humanity and existence. I was also able to express characteristics unique to the person I was representing without prior knowledge of who they are, therefore validating that we were truly accessing a fluid, interconnected, energetic system. It strengthens the healing process for the constellator, the observer, because what unfolds becomes real and tangible in the sacred space.
The most memorable representation for me was that of a twin, whose other half, which we find out towards the end, passed away before even being born. When this being was brought into my space initially, I felt whole, knowing innately that this person completed me and loved me unconditionally. Yet, when this person was taken away from the space, there was longing and intense pain within me. As events unfolded, I kept on asking myself if she was my twin. I doubted my logical mind, but my gut acknowledged the deep, intimate connection I had with this person due to having grown together in the womb—and it was the strongest bond I’ve ever felt.
Brigitte facilitated the acknowledgement, honoring and integration of this person back into this family system, which resulted in peace within each person and the system as a whole. For the person I represented, further healing needed to happen but this process has opened the door to acceptance. This experienced opened my eyes and taught me that even if time, death, or geography separates us, we are truly connected to one another. It’s a truly unique and powerful process.
Barbara Bolls, Artist / Designer
The constellation itself was quite profound. Our grandfather was represented along with both the victims (our ancestors) and perpetrators of the Holocaust and what came out was how much guilt and shame he’d carried (and passed on) his whole life for being the one who survived. The constellation resolved when the victims were able to relate to the perpetrators, tell my grandfather how proud they were of him, and that the greatest gift any of us survivors can give is to succeed and prosper in our own lives. In the few months after the constellation, the rift with my cousin has been healed and my fear and anxiety has been dissolving by the week. I am so much lighter in my self and in my life – it’s a complete joy!”
Noah Hoffman, Computer Programmer
Sandra Ballantine, Esthetician
Tina Romano, M.S.
Systemic constellation work seemed for me the right way to go, since over years of desperate searching for a solution, I had come to understand that my child's problems were an accumulation of problems that showed especially in my husband's family-line and his denial to look at his problems. When I learned that Dr. Brigitte Essl was offering this powerful work in my area, I signed up. What revealed itself in the first session regarding the dreadful entanglements my child, husband, and his male lineage were caught up in was quite revealing and fostered a deeper understanding for my son's and husband's personalities and their struggles. My compassion grew and our interactions softened overall – we all can receive each other again, which was not possible anymore before this work – the daily-life stress with a challenging child had been taken its toll.
The most wonderful outcome of all, I observe changes in my child: Has he been not able to control his erratic outbreaks before and then stayed locked in one emotional state for a while, he now is able to brace himself in minutes back to a stable baseline. Recently, he is also drawn much more to his father and spontaneously expresses his love for him. His thought processes seemed to have cleared up, which shows in the questions he asks and the conversations we can have with him – means he is so much more aware of his environment now! Only two days after the constellation he told me that he wanted to be in his room and set the rules of how he wanted his space to be entered – before he did not even want to be in his room or and was not able to structure his space at all.
It is now almost 4 weeks since the constellation and I am thrilled to see were we will be in half a year or a year, which is the time it takes for the shifts in the family system to be fully integrated. There is more work to do and I am looking forward to the next constellation session. I am grateful that Dr. Essl makes this powerful work available to us and I am deeply impressed in how compassionate, skilled, and devoted she facilitates this delicate and complex process. I felt absolutely safe in the space that she created.
As a representative: To be a representative in a family constellation has given me deep insights, compassion, and respect about and for myself, my family, and especially about us humans in general. I recognized how we all drag baggage with us that pains and limits us in so many ways, and how in the end we all need and want the same – to love, to be loved, to be acknowledged, and to belong. I found it insightful to be a witness and to participate in so many different family stories, to feel among others someone else’s grief, despair, denial or love, and move towards healing and closure, reconnects broken family chains and the extended human family on a deep level, perceiving us as fellow travelers on this journey called life. As a representative, I felt to further develop my heart and spirit in the safe setting that Dr. Brigitte Essl provided, and at the same time I was able to give something back to others that I had received when others stood-in for my own family’s constellation – this is a gift and has been a very rewarding experience for me. Beyond this all, I benefited from clearly perceiving myself by recognizing many emotional and mental states of people I represented – this secondary effect of the work was truly beneficial regarding my own self awareness and self perception.
Akasa Tseng, M.A.
For many decades now, I have been doing psychological and spiritual work to untie the overt and covert knots of my family of origin. My mother is in her final year of life, and I want to feel complete with her before she dies. I do not want to live in the abuse patterns of my family, that were expressed to family members and the general public. My own health has been greatly affected by covert patterns of my mother's family, and I want great health to come more easily than I have been able to achieve it (as I recognized in the constellation patterns that unfolded during my weekend with Dr. Essl).
The actual experience of being constellated was so gentle, yet deep. I felt a great weight lifted from my body, and I felt my breathing was full for the first time in 55 years. The ripples of benefit have continued over the past 11 months, without me having to do anything...except attend and surrender to that constellation experience. All living family members have since opened up and changed, although I went to the constellation weekend by myself. Most profound has been the impact on my mother, her sister, and her brother. My mother's heart has softened, my aunt has found a new courage and clarity, my uncle has become more gracious and connected with his siblings. My aunt's daughters have also felt shifts within themselves and with their mother. I have felt my own softening, and have found a deeper courage and certainty within myself. My health is better and easier, and I feel greater compassion for my mother and her personal history.
Dr. B. Grace Pike, BPHE, DC
Jane Hawes, PhD, Clinical Psychologist
Abby Caplin, MD, MA; Mind-Body Medicine and Medical Counseling
This work has had a very positive impact on my children as well. It is subtle, but very obvious to me, for I feel there is no longer the need for anyone to "atone" for her dishonorment through strange accidents and illnesses that plagued my father's side of the family so much. The group process that allows such a transformation to take place is truly amazing. How quickly each participant attunes and connects with the feeling life of one's family of origin. I was moved to tears so many times during the session and bursts of insight kept coming thick and fast as I witnessed objectively the unfoldment of my own family drama.
Brigitte is such a highly skilled and sensitive facilitator of this process. It demands of someone total awareness and presence and she never wavers. She has to guide and steer things along without being obtrusive or interfering with the flow that has a life of its own once the constellation is initiated. There is both magic and mystery here even as the result seems to be an improved sense of well-being and harmony in one's daily life. I feel like I accomplished more integration in a weekend than several years of on-going weekly therapy. It is a powerful tool for transformation.
Genevieve Vierling, Astrologer
What stands out the most is the part where I had representatives of all my female ancestors behind me, as if stacked up one behind the other, as well as my father, while working on acknowledging the child who died in an abortion I had about 30 years ago. I am not sure exactly how it affected me in the long term, but the simple fact that this child was acknowledged and integrated within my family as a real being was a very good feeling. Maybe it erased or "deleted" the guilt feelings I have had about the whole thing. I don't think it stopped me from wishing I had not done this abortion, but now I am not ambivalent about it. I know I should not have done it, when before I kept believing what my ex-husband told me back then, that it was for the better because "maybe the child would have had birth defects...." The process is very mysterious, but since it’s best to let it be without analyzing, that’s what I have done in the past year, let it do its underground work.
Another strong memory I have is regarding one of my paternal aunts. I might have inherited her deep grief, but was not aware of it at all. She held me in heart like her daughter, but had very tragic and dramatic tendencies throughout her life. People in my family have told me over and over that I look like her. I never wanted to look like her, because that meant that I also would be like her, tragic and dramatic. But somehow, underneath my conscious intention to not be like her, there was some sort of psychic bond that caused me to live my life with undertones of grief. I now have a sense that this is no longer true.
Brigitte is extremely sensitive and intuitive, and therefore an excellent facilitator for this type of work. She possesses the emotional intelligence that is essential to help unveil the obstacles or facades that we, as humans, learn so well to create, and get to the core of the problem or challenge and move on to live our life in more serene and satisfying ways, be more complete and able to get closer to our potential.
Helga Alessio, VP Hahnemann Labs
Jorna White, LMFT
I did find answers to questions that had occupied me for a very long time. I would think that it was a combination of working on my concerns in different ways for many years, but the constellation work did bring these concerns to a point of closure. There is only so much I could do by myself on an emotional, physical, and mental level. I am convinced that I'm part of a broader energy-web. In my experience, the Hellinger constellation process seems to work by changing such web patterns by means of "simply" acknowledging what is/was. It does sound simple, and yet it is very profound.
Brigitte is an outstanding facilitator, offering her gifts of intuition, deep knowledge, and compassion to lead and hold participants safely throughout the whole process. I can highly recommend working with her, and I am very grateful to know her and to have worked with her.
Brigitte Schanz, Clown and Movement/Theater Teacher
Meike Kerper, LMFT
Jeff Etemad, DO