Family Secrets? Yes, they are often hidden behind UNEXPLAINED behavior, such as unexplained anger, depression or anxiety.
The method I use is very helpful to reveal quickly where the problems are hidden or emanating from. Often we discover hidden dynamics, that no one was aware of and are bothering your child. That can cause unwanted behavior that is not understood. Some other revelations lead to traumatic experiences that we, our parents, our grand parents or other family members in the past have gone through.
As clinical psychology science shows: unhealed traumas can reverberate through generations. The information obtained by revealing those entanglments, can be life changing, for the child, the parent en the family.
Ella is 8-years-old. At age 4, while being very extrovert, she suddenly decided not to talk anymore to anyone outside of her family but not to teachers , strangers and friends. She did not answer any questions. Her parents had tried all possible solutions. Ella came to me for a session after 4 years of maintaining this behavior. The constellation showed that her grandfather L. was 4-years-old when he moved from America to Haiti with his parents, who were medical professionals. He was left in the hands of helpers who didn’t speak English, and L. didn’t speak French. While his parents were traveling in the country, L. was physically punished by the helpers for not obeying them. L. married in his twenties and had a son, M. When M was 4-years-old, his parents divorced. L said to his son M, “Don’t call me dad anymore, I am not your dad from now on.” M’s daughter is Ella. The constellation revealed inherited trauma: Grandfather L experienced the trauma of abandonment and a language barrier (“can’t speak”). His son M experienced abandonment and disconnection. His granddaughter, Ella, carried the trauma of non-expression, not being heard, and not able to speak. It looks as if the shock of the experiences of her grandfather silenced Ella. Resolution: After two private sessions with constellation work, Ella now speaks more freely and answers questions 80% of the time.
Gary is 18 years of age. He doesn’t want to go to school, sleeps during the day, only wants to smoke pot, and has no desire or passion for the opportunities in life. His recent outbursts of anger, a new behavior, are an area of concern for the parents. Only a year ago, he was a totally different person. An on-line session with his mom made it clear that Gary was carrying the traumas of his grandfather, who was sent to war at a young age. He came back from war a different person, angry and violent with his kids, and never received any help for his presumed PTSD. The grandfather died over a year ago. Gary carried what belonged to his grandfather, without being aware. Two sessions made a difference and today he is attending college.
Ann has two daughters, Lily aged 9 and Sophie aged 16. From birth, Sophie behaved distant and aloof towards her mother, and showed no affection. Lily was the opposite. When Sophie was 3-years-old, Ann visited a psychiatrist for help. Other than medication, and blaming the mother, not much help was provided. Setting up a family constellation revealed that Sophie’s father was married when he had an affair with her mother. In that marriage were 2 young daughters. One of them was very angry at her father, for abandoning them, and for hurting their mother. Sophie took on this anger from the first wife and one of her daughters. She resented her own mother subconsciously, who was the cause for the break up with the first family. Resolution: Sophie had subconsciously taken on anger and identified with her father’s wife and daughter. Given her the rightful place in the family, without entanglements, the anger and traumas were totally released, and the relationship between Ann and Sophie improved significantly.
Eitan’s dad passed when he was 5 years old. A few years later, the mother’s boyfriend who became a father figure to her 2 boys, was completely rejected by Eitan. It gave a lot of stress at home.
A group constellation with the then 7 year old boy and 8 adults (strangers for Eitan) learned that when Eitan “received permission” from his deceived father he felt free to embrace and allow the new partner of his mother in his heart. The special process in the constellation made visible and possible what just by speaking alone didn’t work. Several years later, they are still enjoying each others company.
The footprint method used in private sessions.
With his grandmother, 9 year old Jimmy came for a session to my office. I was the last therapist to try before they would put Jimmy on medication for ADHD and hyperactivity.
Grandma was the caretaker for Jimmy and his sister because their parents were divorced and unable to take care of their children. Grandma spoke very negatively about her ex-daughter in law. “She‘s a horrible mother, a drug addict. She’s not even paying child-support.” Jimmy looked away while she spoke. For me the task was to elicit some empathy from grandmother for Jimmy’s mother, who was seemingly immersed in her own problems. Being addicted to drugs never occurs because of happy reasons.
Grandma was not open to hear any other vision than her own.
I asked Jimmy to “map his family” with colored footprints he would choose from, and to put them in the open space on the floor that we call “the field”. Spontaneously he put the footprints wherever he felt like. He chose a pair of footprints for himself, his mother, father, sister and grand- parents. We added the dog too.
I asked Jimmy to put shapes that are representing feelings next to the footprints where ever he would feel comfortable. Those feelings would then be seen as belonging to the footprints of that person.
Jimmy put next to everyone “love” but not for himself. He put “sadness” to his mother’s footprints and also to his own. He put “anger” next to his father’s prints.
The mapping shows the inner picture of how Jimmy perceives his family and ultimately his world. He was obviously feeling lonely, disconnected from his parents, but supported by grandparents, and had no love for himself (!).
The way he positioned his own feet showed a deep longing for his mother. It became clear how he was connected to his mother, which was with sadness and pain. He peeked from the corners of his eyes to his grandmother, almost afraid of what she would think from all this and he saw that she was tearing up.
This picture made her realize that it is detrimental for the boy when she speaks negatively about his mother. His feelings need to be respected. Even a troubled mother wants to be loved by the child, and deserves respect for wherever and whatever she is going through. Most importantly, regardless of the situation, the child will love his mother. The child needs to have positive feelings about his parents. which can be very difficult and conflicting. Tearing natural family ties apart can cause restlessness and depression.
It is our judging that can hurt others so much. One session seemed to be enough to have Jimmy‘s behavior change. The need for medication was gone.
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