Guidelines for Issue Holders in Family Constellations


It is often advisable to have first attended a Family Constellation Workshop as a Representative before choosing to be an Issue Holder, this helps you to understand the process of what will happen within your Constellation.

The purpose of a Family Constellation is to gather data about a situation for the Issue Holder to create more clarity, and may help unstick stuck aspects of a system, or give new information about how to proceed.

However, not all situations can be resolved and sometimes the system is not ready to move to resolution. So, it is important to bear in mind that not all constellations will end in hugs with love flowing.

There are Systemic Principles the Facilitator will follow, but mostly the Facilitator will be working with a curious and open-mind to allow whatever wants to be revealed to arise.

Please also read the Guidelines for Representatives before attending a workshop as an Issue Holder

The Issue Holder for a Family Constellation will be invited to a 30 – 40 minute Zoom consultation with the Facilitator before the day of the workshop to discuss their issue and talk through their family history

The purpose of the Consultation is to maintain the confidentiality of sensitive data that the Issue Holder may not be comfortable sharing with the wider group 

Please Note – It is possible for Constellations to be conducted while still holding sensitive family data confidential

The Zoom Consultation will cover: –
  • Establishing the issue the Issue Holder wishes to focus on
  • The structure of the Issue Holder’s immediate family – spouse, children, siblings, parents and grandparents
  • Great-grandparents may also be important as may parents’ and grandparents’ siblings
  • Be prepared to be asked about anyone in the family system who died early, including still born babies, miscarriages and abortion post 3 months
  • Also important are any past partners, half-siblings, adopted and/or step-children in any part of the family system
  • Past family traumas are important information such as – suicide, accidents, crime, rape, war, financial misfortune, bankruptcy, affairs, migration, business failure
  • In particular, any family member/s who have been ostracised or where a significant rift has occurred
  • Also relevant is where in past generations children were born out of wedlock, which while acceptable in society today, was seen as shaming for the family at that time in history

The above information is hugely helpful so that the Facilitator is guided in the selection of elements of the system to test

Questions and Answers

But what if I am the Issue Holder and I don’t know much about my family history?

  • While it is helpful to have the information listed previously, it is also possible for the Constellation to work using generic elements such as “the person in the family to whom this pattern belongs”

How can you do a Constellation and still keep my family information confidential?

  • We can set up a major family trauma event such as fraud or bankruptcy as “the event”
  • A family secret can remain as “the secret”
  • We can set up babies who didn’t live as the “missing child” without naming stillbirth, miscarriage or abortion
  • We can set up people who committed suicide, rape, murder, violent crime without naming their actions
  • We can even set up the Constellation so that only the Issue Holder and Facilitator know who or what the Representatives are representing 

But what if my family history doesn’t have any of those big events?

  • The big family events and/or traumas give us clues where to look first
  • But systemic entanglements can also be caused by much more subtle events in a families history which may now have been forgotten
  • The entanglements may also come from further back in time, so that no one in the current generation remembers the events
  • In these case we can go back in a more generic way to previous generations
  • There will always be a time before the trauma we can go back to

These events were traumatic, I’m worried about opening old wounds

  • Attending a Constellation can be tender work, tears may occur on the way to a resolution
  • But it is not our job to go deeply into what might have occurred
  • Instead we are looking to apply the systemic principles of belonging, time, place and exchange
  • The sentences offered to Representatives to say will be simple statements of fact such as “You belong to this family and so do I”

But what if my family history is shameful and I am embarrassed by it?

  • Bert Hellinger, the Founder of this work devised the methodology after WWII in Germany to help children who had parents who were Nazis and had committed war crimes
  • The act of conception is separate from what the parents may have done, this principle will be recognised where people feel tainted by the actions of their forbears
  • In these cases the Issue Holder will be given sentences to leave the actions of the parents with them
  • As part of the work, we recognise all family members as being part of the wider family history whatever they may have done or not done
  • Systemically, we hold that somewhere in the wider system, these people’s actions made perfect sense
  • When we include the larger context, such as WWII we see that the individual soldiers may not have had any choice but to carry out the actions they did
  • Acting in a way that ensures our belonging within families and groups is one of our deepest human instincts, people often find themselves in conflict between the belonging rules of their families and other systems
  • Our job within the Constellation is not to judge others actions but to recognise their place in the system
  • “You are my father and I am your child”

In the above i have attempted to answer some of the questions you may have as a Family Constellation Issue Holder – if you have any other questions – do please email me.

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