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Posted by Lorie Anderson 
April 18, 2006 08:36AM
Lorie's page on Bert Hellinger's "Movements of the Soul":

Excerpt: "Once again, the Tidings promoted a dubious practice as news: "Movements of the Soul," therapy created by Bert Hellinger. The reporter didn't reveal why it is controversial. Is it because of its convoluted, unverifiable and outdated theories?

Hellinger says our problems arise from "soul entanglements" revealed through "family constellations," a form of group role-playing. The article reports "magic" and "mystery," as representatives "know" the feelings of people they never met. Or, do they? ..."

LINKS to this discussion board's archived threads on this topic (you must come back to this active forum to reply):

belief re: family constellations
October 27, 2007 03:10PM
2 points please. You are probably right that this is more a religious experience but that's ok. Religion can heal, too, but you realize it as such. For example. My new age therapist told me that the priest who sexually abused me was also a priest in old Stonehenge 3,000 years ago. He was corrupt and evil then, too. I was responsible for getting him punished and exiled and he came beck in this lifetime for revenge. I DO NOT IN ANY WAY BELIEVE IN REINCARNATION SO THIS STORY IS NOT REAL TO ME. BUT SOMEHOW IT BECAME A PART OF MY LORE, AND A POWERFUL PART OF MY HEALING FROM THAT ABUSE. I even have Stonehenge tattooed around my arm - I love it. I am told the mind can't differentiate between reality and vivid imagery and belief. So if you don't like what life has been, then go ahead and reimagine and build a a better one! Just be sure you have an excellent "guide," 'coz this is powerful stuff. I have been lucky in this, but also have done traditional phychotherapy for a baseline as well.

Second, I believe an incestor (this priest was our family priest and was often invited into my home. That's why we call it incest.) MUST be confronted. Ig you do not, s/he owns you still! I went to the TV station and put my accusation on the news, resulting in the priest being taken out of practice and meeting others he had abused. We have become comarades. I also confronted him personally by phone. I originally got away from him by leaving the alter service and joining the choir (I did this so I would'nt have to say anything to my family). Outing and confronting the perp. is how you take back your life and reclaim your place in family and society. Again, a good therapist and guide are necessary to handle the hurricane that's gonna happen when you come out about the abuse. It will change all your relationships, some good, some bad, forever. I look forward to your comments re" this.
Re: belief re: family constellations
November 01, 2007 10:21AM
Hi Larry,
Thank you for writing to my board. You're impressively open, and I am happy to hear you're healing from such an awful experience.

About what you wrote here, my only disagreement is that I personally wouldn't benefit, nor tolerate, a therapist inventing a tall tale like that. You didn't believe the tale, and found a way to make it work for you - great! But some clients do believe falsehoods that are suggested to them by therapists. I put it in the same box as practices like: uncovering "repressed memories," which has sometimes led to false sense of being a victim and false accusations of sexual abuse, and convincing patients that they have multiple personalities, which has been found to actually create a sense of multiple personalities, rather than uncovering any. I think that for some patients, therapists inventing reincarnation/past life stories could cause harm.

Thanks again for posting here. I'm sorry this board isn't more active now, so that you could hear from others too.

Take care, and my best to you.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/02/2007 03:03AM by Lorie Anderson.
January 23, 2009 11:22PM
Someone emailed me, and she agreed to allow me to post our discussion here:

Subject: a comment re: family constellations

> Date: Monday, January 19, 2009, 3:07 PM
> My husband went into a depressions last year. We tried conventional
therapy, which included being put on Paxil, talk therapy, etc. for 6 months,
with little result.
> Then he did the Hellinger therapy (in the USA).
> He not only got over his depression, but he has become one of the most
mentally/emotionally healthy people I know. It was a powerful and moving
experience for him, and we have recommended it to many people.
> Some of those quotes you list on your site might seem bizarre taken out of
>context, but in the context of the therapy, and what the therapy is about as I
>understand it, they are not. I would urge you to find out more about it.


Glad it helped your husband. My issues are with his paranormal claims. I can see how there could be a lot of benefits in a supportive, self-reflective environment, regardless of the particulars of the method. It could be that Hellinger has softened some of his contentions or couched them differently after critics became vocal. There are stronger critics than me who I linked to from my webpage. Thanks for your input. Again, I'm glad your husband is doing better, regardless of the method or my feelings about it.


>Date: Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 4:11 AM


>Thanks for your answer.
Yes, he is doing much better, and much better than he was before he had the
therapy. [She later clarified that he's doing even better than prior to his depression.]

>In a sense, it makes me think "who cares why it works?"

>What would you say is the difference between the "paranormal" and the
"spiritual'' ?

>I find it difficult to dismiss certain things, based on my own, unexpected,

LORIE'S REPLY - to the writer, but also generally to this forum's readers:

I can understand how you feel about not caring 'how' something works as long as it works, especially when faced with a serious problem that no one else seems to have the answer to.

As far as I know, no one has studied, in an objective scientific manner, whether or not most people are helped by Family Constellation therapy, or if perhaps some/many are psychologically hurt or scarred by it in some way. I have received some feedback about this therapy and seen comments that aren't so glowing. Even if mostly helpful, I still don't like seeing paranormal and other dubious claims go unchallenged, especially when a therapy is believed to "work" (We must ask, what is actually at work there?) and is quickly making its way into the mainstream around the globe.

(I've already made quite a few comments on my webpage about how I feel about all this, so I won't repeat them all here.)

On the difference between 'spiritual' and 'paranormal,' good question. I'm sure there is much overlap. As I see it, spiritual beliefs usually include a belief in a superior or higher power, a supernatural being(s) like God or gods, or an ultimate force - akin to religious beliefs. Even the more secular sense of absolute awe of nature, the laws of nature, the universe, life, can be said to be spiritual. Spiritual beliefs aren't usually held up to scientific scrutiny: "It's my right to believe whatever I want."

I think paranormal beliefs can be spiritual in nature and spiritual beliefs can be paranormal in nature, but many paranormal beliefs are also expressed as claims of fact, or as hypotheses about how things work and why. I think these claims, especially if widely broadcast and influential, as Hellinger's claims may be, can/should be subject to scientific evaluation and logical analysis. Personally, I'd like to see the field of psychotherapy become much more evidence-based.

I have just as many unexplained experiences (seemingly miraculous, strange, stunning, etc.) as anyone else, but I am willing to say "I don't know why that happened" rather than jump to and defend implausible explanations and willing to examine (at least to my own satisfaction) dubious explanations. Many insist that their paranormal and other extraordinary claims are based on scientific evidence and that mainstream scientists are just afraid to study it or that they are too biased or closed-minded to accept it,or that science is too primitive still to successfully study such claims. That's ridiculous. I imagine most mainstream scientist would enjoy the glory of actually finding solid evidence of supernatural or other extraordinary claims. Some (former) true believers have tried; read Susan Blackmore's website. for starters.

If a hypothesis is implausible, and especially if it involves overturning well-established and well-tested theories and laws about how things works, and if the evidence presented thus far has been weak or poorly designed, the burden of proof should be on the claimant to show excellent, independently replicated evidence. Many paranormal and similarly dubious claims have been found to be hoaxes or magic tricks or just simply nonsense/unsupportable/misleading (e.g. spoon bending, distance healing, healing 'surgery,' energy healing disks, homeopathy, mental telepathy, facilitated communication, etc., etc.)

I'm sure others can weigh in on this topic with different opinions and arguments.

Side note: I just noticed that one well-known American doctor's website offers Family Constellation therapy with the disclaimer that it should not replace conventional therapy. Interesting.

Thanks for the discussion.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/23/2009 11:25PM by Lorie Anderson.
I had to be a representative several times in 2 family constellation workshops I did and because I was 'on show' in front of a group of strangers I felt obliged to express feelings that would make it look like I was channelling the person I was representing. If I'd been honest, when the facilitator asked me what I was experiencing as someone's Uncle Adam or whoever it was I would have said 'stage-fright'. I can't say I got any benefit from either of the two workshops I did either. And I find the idea that people are in the grip of systemic forces they can't control morbid. Having read one of Bert Hellinger's books and some of his interviews, the message I get from him is 'listen to me and I will guide you to live a good life' which i don't think is a healthy message to come from a therapist. Also he seems to judge women more harshly than men and to imply that women's sole purpose and fulfillment is to be wives and mothers.
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