I’ve had a most interesting and grueling weekend, which I’m still trying to process (it’s Wednesday – I think…), courtesy of Alun Reynolds, a psychologist who trained with Burt Hellinger and runs weekend family constellations.
In keeping with the Holocaust origins of family constellation work, there were two people who’s constellations stretched back into the murderous days of World War Two: a family with Jewish members who were killed in one of the large-scale Nazi massacres; and another whose grandfather had fought all the way through, ending up stationed in Berlin for several years afterwards. The effect of these traumatic events on subsequent generations of their families could be felt quite clearly by the representatives, and much was achieved in trying to unravel the meaning and impact of this, and defuse (if I might use such a non-psychological word) some of the enormous tensions and burdens passed down to the next and subsequent generations.
This technique has clear and obvious use in the treatment of combat-related PTSD, but as I’ve discovered, is very powerful and so can only be used with particular care with war veterans. There would I imagine be be practical difficulties. Would one for example run workshops with only war veterans – if only to avoid upsetting the non-veterans with harrowing reminiscences; or must the veterans be mixed with others, to leaven their experiences with the experiences of others, as war is just one aspect of life and shouldn’t be segregated? How will constellations play where fathers, grandfathers and even great grandfathers, all served in the various wars of the 20th century? Is there an aggregation of experience – and burden? Could this be a factor in determining who suffers combat related PTSD, and who does not?