Primal Constellations Vs. Family Constellations
This article published in 2005, after two years of facilitating Constellations from a Primal perspective. Although it may need some updates, the original article remains basically unchanged. (Angel Alvarez, 2016)
Primal Constellations integrate the Primal vision within the model of Family Constellations of Bert Hellinger.
The Family Constellations approach developed by Bert Hellinger is an open and living model evolving constantly, but it is a model constantly based on the discoveries and interpretations of Bert Hellinger.
Although its methodology is phenomenological and the interpretations of phenomena occurring during a constellations have an empirical ground, the solutions Bert Hellinger applied are accepted as irrefutable axioms by many of his followers.
In this way, the vision of Hellinger conditions in excess the perception of an energy phenomenon as wide and deep as life itself.
There is no doubt that Hellinger is one of the great masters of our time, but his solutions are welcomed with excessive dogmatism.
From a Primal perspective, any rigidity in the application of the solutions can lead to a mechanistic and out of focus solution of the problem.
The Primal “natural” vision of the phenomenon questions the application of certain solutions and also the rhythm and the timing imposed in the process, and even the priority and importance of certain orders.
No one is questioning the “wonderful mystery” of the Family Constellations, or the extraordinary work of Bert Hellinger, but the greater or lesser success when it comes to apply certain movements and phrases in the search for the most suitable solution.
It may take ten or twelve years of experience facilitating workshops of Family Constellations before venturing into the exposure of a theoretical contribution from a Primal perspective, however…
I will dare to present some possible differences:
From a natural Primal perspective, the “traditional” model of Hellinger is too dirigiste.
Although Bert Hellinger has kept “reshaping” and evolving its model (“movements of the soul”, spiritual constellations, Hellinger science), many therapists follow and apply the conventional approach, allowing little margin to the spontaneous expression of movements, feelings and phrases of the representatives, “pushing” sometimes for a solution with excessive urgency.
In Primal Constellations, there is very little intervention of the facilitator, and the spontaneous movements and expressions of the representatives are allowed as they arise.
Sometimes, the facilitator may suggest to allow the impulse to be stronger before moving to a different position, or to express the feelings with very few words or a short phrase, so that the experience is kept in the feeling level (analog plane), avoiding the mental-analitical interpretation (digital plane).
It may even be allowed to complain to a parent, but always as a prelude to connect with the underlying feelings (pain, fear, guilt, basic needs…) in order to reach the interrupted loving movement toward parents and ancestors.
The Hellinger assertion: “He prefers the complaint to the solution” is very effective in many cases, but it may be simply denying access to the feelings supporting it, contributing this way to the repression an authentic solution.
If the client accepts the solution without complaining, the result may be a superficial outcome which has not been deeply accepted. On the other side, if the client rejects the solution, he may take the problem back to his head and shut down the solution of the heart.
The Family Constellations of Bert Hellinger gives excessive importance to the “image” at the end of the Constellation.
From the Primal perspective, the emotional energy that shakes to client (and his family) during the process should be considered equally important .
This is why in a Primal Constellation, the client usually takes his place in the center of the stage to directly feel and experience the energy field and the emotional flow of the connection.
There is a risk that the client may act a superficial psicodramatic performance. However, this kind of acts rarely happen in a Primal Constellations workshop.
I am aware that when placing the client in the middle of the scenario, he may loose a part of that healing image that is best seen seated in the outer circle.
The facilitator mus consider in each individual case guided by his intuition and the loving forces that move that constellation.
In additon, Primal Constellations have greater duration. While it is normal for a traditional constellation to last 20-30 minutes, it is unusual for a Primal Constellation to last less than 60 minutes.
This is important, because sometimes a constellation is jammed and does not seem to have a solution, but when given that “extra time”, the energy usually begins to flow through the blockade, and a “spark” happens that makes the constellation to move towards the right solution.
The only requirement is for the facilitator to flow with the timing the constellation requires, trusting the movement that seems to be “frozen”.
In addition to this, Primal constellations are almost never stopped by lack of data, and family secrets are revealed quite often… It is just a matter of giving enough time to the constellation.
From a Primal perspective, the dynamic of “I will follow you” makes perfect sense, but the dynamics of “Me better than you” is often a hasty interpretation of some hiden information waiting to become visible.
The need of some facilitators to categorize the movements of a constellations and to give a quick fix may condition a more authentic and healthy solution.
Finally, although it is preferable that the representatives do not represent a person they know, if we turn this into something rigid, we may miss some important outcomes.
In a constellation a woman chose her best friend to represent her, they were a couple in real life. After a few minutes in the scenario, the representative had to lie on the floor because she could not stand any longer. This experience was quiete important for both women.
On the one hand, the representative could feel in his own body how her best friend felt when she often said: “I can not keep going anymore”,
On the other hand, the client felt finally understood by her best friend, something that was very important for her.
In other workshops, they both were prevented from “represent” each other in other workshops, just because they knew each other. The rigidity of the rule had maintained both of them far from getting a more profound mutual knowledge about each other, something they both desired and needed.
Angel Primal (Álvarez Álvarez)
Founder of the Spanish Primal Association of Spain
Asociacion Primal (1997)