More than 50 years ago, Bert Hellinger coined the phrase systemic constellation work. It is a type of systems work that focuses on the soul of the family, of an individual, of a Universal consciousness that has us, we don’t have it.

We are all born into a family that has a collective conscience, or soul. And with that come both blessings and circumstances, or fate that we carry from generation to generation. Unless there is resolution with the circumstance or burden it will continue to be pasted on from one generation to another. It’s similar to the adage that history repeats itself unless resolved and healed.

Hellinger lived with the Zulu’s in South Africa for 20 years or so. Here he learned the importance of honoring those who came before us, our ancestors and believed that the peace of the dead is dependent on the living and that the wellness of the living is dependent on the dead.” That is, if one wants to live an unencumbered life, it is imperative that the pain of the past, which can trickle down from one generation to the other is resolved in order for one to live a live that is truly theirs.

When Hellinger returned to Germany, he became a psychotherapist and discovered that more than 70% of the issues that his clients suffered from were not due to psychological reasons, rather systemic ones. Specifically, from their family of origin which included many generations. As he worked with folks, he came to discover the Orders of Love of which there are four. When we speak of orders, it is the natural phenomenon that occurs throughout the invisible dynamics known as the quantum field or “The Field”. An example of a phenomenon is when we enter the fall, it is natural for the leaves to turn color and fall to the ground. This is a natural order that occurs year after year. For more information on this subject, refer to Rupert Sheldrake’s work. (

The first Order of Love is that everyone within a family system has the right to belong and those who have been excluded need to be re-included into the family for the health and well being of everyone within the family. I am sure that many of us can think of someone within our own family who has become the “black sheep” or the outcast.
Because systems are always striving for balance, if someone has been excluded, the system will find a way to recalibrate or rebalance itself. From the perspective of a soul, an injustice has been done. So the injustice will be corrected.

An example of this is if a person in the family is adopted out and is not remembered. Or if someone dies and is not remembered. That is considered an injustice and someone within the family will remember and carry that injustice. Some ways that it may show up in a person is in the form of addiction, depression, pervasive anxiety or disease. This is done on an unconscious level and often the person carrying it has no idea why they are experiencing these symptoms.

The second Order of Love is that those who have sacrificed themselves for their families need to be honored in order for the health and well being of the family. This is fascinating because those who sacrifice themselves for their families do it on an unconscious level. Much like the other orders.

An example of this would be if a child takes on the abuse that a parent may have been experiencing. In the magical thinking of the child it’s as if they are saying, “better me mom or better me dad than you.” Children sacrifice themselves for their parents. We can see this as we look at some family systems that have chronic addiction or abuse running though the generations. Unless resolved and unless honored it will continue to perpetuate itself.

The third Order of Love is that everyone has their place within their family. Sometimes, due to a variety of circumstances, parents are not able to be the parents they may strive to be, so their children become the surrogate parent or become “parentified”. Meaning they become the parent and the parent almost becomes the child. It’s as if they don’t have the backbone to standup as a parent.

When I work with folks, I am able to envision where their place was in their family because of the way they describe their relationship with their parents both as they were growing up and how they live their lives as adults. Often these folks will talk in ways that are disrespectful of their parents and they may show some signs of arrogance. Part of the beauty of this work is that when an individual knows where their place is, they can take it, and receive that greatest gift that a parent could give a child, which is the gift of life. Through this systems work, taking this gift and giving back what isn’t theirs to carry will free them up to live a very fulfilled life. Being trained as a therapist, I have worked with folks who may have moved thousands of miles away from their families or emotionally shut them out, and complain that they were not given what they felt they should have been given growing up. While I fully acknowledge that many folks within families have been poorly treated, if a victim, in this case a child can have compassion for the perpetrator or the parent, realizing that they too had been victimized, it can facilitate deep healing for everyone within the system. It is an amazing process of profound healing on an emotional, physical and spiritual level of everyone within the system.

The fourth Order of Love is that there is the equal give and take of energy, also known as reciprocity. In a couple’s relationship, if one gives in a loving conscious way the other reciprocates by back in a loving conscious way.

When harm is done to the other, it will also be reciprocated or balanced, for example, lets say that one of the partner’s goes out and buys a brand new car without talking it over with the other partner. A wrong has been done and will be corrected because of the system finding balance. Again this is done unconsciously or on the soul level. The give and take between a parent and their child is the parent’s responsibility to give love to the child and the responsibility of the child to receive that love. When the child grows up and has children of their own, then they give back to give to their own children. If the child has no children, then they give back to society in the form of service.

In some families, the parents tell the children things that are not for them to hear, such as any discord in their relationship. It is not a child’s place to hear what is going on between their parents, and must stop in order for the health and well being of the family.

I have had the honor of working with this approach to family system therapy for close to 10 years. I love how deep resolution can come about within families that have carried so much grief and emotional trauma. The process of this work is beautiful and continuously keeps me in a state of humility and compassion. I have been told by many that this approach to healing one’s self and ultimately their family have enabled them to stop suffering and come back home to their families.

What I have learned, is if we disconnect ourselves from our families, we disconnect from ourselves. Whether we like it or not, we are our fathers, our mothers, our grandparents and all of those who came before us. We are their energetic signature that has been passed on for generations. When we can fully take the life and love that we were given, we have received our greatest gift. Giving back what is not ours to carry, we free ourselves to live a joyful life full of infinite possibilities. As we heal ourselves from the wounds that we have carried deep inside of us, it enables us to look out into the world with compassionate eyes and an open heart. All of us to some extent did not get what we needed from our families. Coming from a place of compassion we are able to see that our parents were doing the best that they could do with what they may have been carrying.

Taking our fathers and mothers, exactly as they are, enable us to look kindly upon ourselves leading to self-empowerment and self-healing. It is time to put down our swords and move forward into peace.

Author's Bio: 

Catherine VanWetter guides you to Personal Peace using the techniques of Inner Resolution Facilitation. Trained in a variety of healing modalities that help people find Inner Peace, she invites you to be gentle, compassionate, and courageous as you put down your weapon of choice and step into a field of Grace. Additional information on this and similar topics are available at Catherine's website, blog and radio program. Catherine invites you to a complimentary teleclass on October 6th, Honoring Your Past - So that you may Embrace This Moment - and Step Confidently into Your Future