History of Constellations


Family Constellations, also known as Systemic Constellations and Systemic Family Constellations, is a therapeutic method which draws on elements of family systems therapy, existential phenomenology and Zulu attitudes to family. 

The phenomenological lineage can be traced through philosophers Franz BrentanoEdmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. This perspective stands in contrast to the positivist reductionist orientation of the scientific psychology. Rather than understanding mind, emotion and consciousness in terms of its constituent parts, existential phenomenology opens perception to the full panorama of human experience and seeks to grasp meaning.

Family Constellations take their form from family systems psychology. Influential figures in this movement include Jacob Moreno, the founder of psychodramaIván Böszörményi-Nagy, the pioneer of transgenerational systemic thinking; Milton Erickson, a pioneer of brief therapy and hypnotherapy; Eric Berne who conceived the concept of life scripts; and Virginia Satir, who developed family sculpture, the precursor of Systemic Constellations. In the past decade, further advancements in the use of the process have been innovated by practitioners throughout the world.

The process draws from indigenous wisdom and ritual as Hellinger lived as a Roman Catholic priest in South Africa for 16 years in the 1950s and 1960s. During these years, he became fluent in the Zulu language, participated in Zulu rituals, and gained an appreciation for the Zulu worldview. The traditional Zulu people lived and acted in a religious world in which the the ancestors were a central part of society and day-to-day. Ancestors are regarded as positive, constructive, and creative presences. The connection with ancestors could be named as one of the central features in the Constellation process.

The term “Family Constellations” was first used by Alfred Adler in a somewhat different context. Adler referred to the phenomenon that each individual belongs to and is bonded in relationship to other members of his or her family system.

This description is the prototype to group Family Constellation as developed by Bert Hellinger in the 1990s. He observed that symptomology has a link into exclusions and entanglements (conflicts) within a family system – and began inquiring if engaging in family systems would bring change in the symptomology.

During this process he made the following discoveries:

  1. The presence of the ‘Knowing Field’. Also known as the morphogenetic field (Rupert Sheldrake).
  2. The Family Conscience and the principles by which it is guided.

This Family Conscience had never been named before, nor were the principles by which it operates and guides systems trans-generationally. What we name the Family Conscience and Orders of Love – to an indigenous culture may possibly be: good relations and the natural structure of community.

History & Timetable provided by Andrea Bosbach Largent©

Constellation Timetable:

  • Bert Hellinger began his explorations in the mid 1970’s
  • Early on he began teaching and exploring with two colleagues: Dr. Albrecht Mahr and Gunthard Weber
  • 1993 the first publication appeared – a transcript of a 3-day seminar: Zweierlei Glueck provided by Gunthard Weber
  • Workshops and Seminars began to spread widely in Germany in the late 80’s / early 90’s
  • Bert Hellinger begins traveling in the late 90’s and continued to do so until his passing in 2019
  • Gabrielle Borkan comes from Germany as the first one to introduce Family Constellations to the USA, in the late 80’s.
  • Suzi Tucker brings Bert Hellinger to the USA – she also translated many of his works, and is a trainer in this process (New York). Hellinger began visiting the US in 2000.
  • Quickly after his appearances – schools formed to train this process: New York, Washington DC, and California
  • Bert Hellinger continued to teach through experience only – following his stand that ‘those who are meant to work this way – will take what they need and do so. Others will not – and their purpose is to follow the work, support it, not lead it.’
  • After Bert Hellinger married his second wife – the two of them started the Hellinger School in South Germany providing training, certification, and a variety of modalities.
    • Family Constellations
    • Movement of the Soul & Hellinger Sciencia
  • A great many variations have developed under the term ‘Constellations’ – not all of them honor or even include the Knowing Field nor the Family Conscience, or work phenomenological – the tool remains a powerful one – though different applications / effects come with different approaches
  • Andrea Bosbach Largent reached the US in 1999 – and made first connections with Facilitators here in early 2000. At that point, there were 3 to be found, nationwide. Now, there are hundreds, possibly over a thousand or more. A listing can be found at Facilitator-Directory.com – please note that this is a private collection and is not a complete listing of everyone in the US who is practicing the art of constellating/

Constellations come in many Forms:

Traditional Family Constellations

Symptom Constellations

Phenomenological Constellations

Abstract Constellations

Intra-System Constellations

Blind Constellations – Working with the Colored Fields

Nature Constellations

Shamanic Constellations


Equine Constellations

Individual Process:

many facilitators have created aids to bring the Constellation Philosophy into the 1:1 process with clients: 

through figures, footprints, shoes, water, sound, ……

Origin Story of Founding Member Members North American Systemic Constellations (NASC) https://www.nasconnect.org/founding-members.html

Volunteer Board and community members interviewed the founding members of the 3 North American countries.

Evidence-based Constellation Studies​