The systemic constellations approach was developed in the 1990s by Bert Hellinger, who brought forward this method by drawing together various other methods in which he, as a lifelong student, had immersed himself.

Indigenous isiZulu beliefs and attitudes to trans-generational family dynamics formed the foundation of what would become known as Family Constellation (now known as Systemic Constellation) work. The influences on Bert Hellinger from the psychotherapeutic field – burgeoning in the latter part of the 20th century – included family systems therapy, psychoanalysis, psychodrama and gestalt therapy.

All practitioners and beneficiaries of Systemic Constellation work benefit from wisdom Bert received from the Zulu peoples of South Africa. Bert lived and worked among the KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa in the 1950s-60s. Bert’s understanding of trans-generational family dynamics, and his experience of the considerable resourcing available to us when we give a central place to our relationship with ancestors, came to him during that time.

Bert combined the wisdom traditions of the isiZulu people with cutting edge psychotherapeutic knowledge at the time. Systemic Constellation work continues evolve in this way; drawing on and respecting the wisdom of those who came before, whilst innovating to meet the emerging future. This powerful approach offers people a chance to recognise and resolving patterns inherited from the family and broader historical, social and cultural systems that have limited the quality of life for descendants in the present.

You can read more about Bert’s involvement in the Zulu communities and their understanding of the ancestors on the website of our colleague Tanja Meyburgh and associates at African Constellations:

What is a Constellation?

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