Cat and dog cuddling on the grassFamily Constellations, created by Bert Hellinger, are one of the key transformational tools I discovered on my healing journey. Constellation work focuses on how our family of origin impacts who we are at a variety of levels, and in ways we do not even realize.

Everyone takes their family of origin with them, making constellation work an extremely important systemic tool in examining and understanding how the emotional DNA we inherit affects us in our daily lives. As a client, a Constellation workshop participant, and a Systemic Constellation facilitator, I am in awe of the power of this work.

In terms of a Family Constellation, I begin by understanding the client’s area of concern and then learn more about their family. Next, I identify the appropriate members of the family to include and select “representatives” for each one. Sometimes, the representatives are for specific people and other times they may be for an event, a country, or another similar “meta-position”.

Recently, for some in the local area, I have been facilitating constellation work at their homes. In doing so, I have found that sometimes the furry members of our families (cats and dogs) also serve as family representatives, providing us with clues and messages.

Here are some examples of how animals have played a role in Family Constellation work.

  • In one constellation, there was a relative who was considered “unsafe” for the client. In the constellation layout, the person’s dog placed himself between her and the representative for the unsafe person. Her dog very clearly took on the role of her protector.
  • In another constellation, I asked a client to create action steps to move away from a current situation and questioned how many steps they could take. They were uncertain but took two. At that moment, their cat laid down on the floor in what would have been the third action step, giving a clear indication that two steps was enough for the moment.
  • In yet another, we were experimenting with whether the person’s last three jobs had an impact on the situation we were exploring. After placing the items on the floor to represent the most recent, and previous two jobs, one cat ran over, picked up the item for the previous job and ran into the other room with it. Soon after, the other cat ran over, picked up the item representing the job before that, and ran into the other room. Finding them both happily playing with the representative items in the other room, provided an important clue that those two job experiences were not relevant to the issue being addressed.
  • I have had my own experience with Buddy, the dog who frequently participates in the constellation workshops I attend in Houston. I was doing a structured constellation about how to move through a situation that felt like a morass. Lo and behold, Buddy came into the constellation and dropped his toy in the area representing “the morass” giving me a reminder to include fun in the resolution.

Even when not in a constellation, our animals can provide us with many insights. Whether it be their sense of when a situation or person is unsafe, knowing when to give us comfort, or even mirroring situations we need to explore more deeply.

Want to understand more about how the emotional DNA you inherit from your family of origin is impacting your daily life? Please contact me to schedule a conversation.

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