International Systemic Constellations Association

Transgenerational Family Therapies

One of the special strengths of systemic constellation work with families is its ability to address transgenerational issues. Therefore it is no surprise that family therapies that specifically address transgenerational issues had a special and significant influence on systemic constellation work.

Murray Bowen.jpg

One of the first therapists to concentrate on the family of origin was Murray Bowen (1913-1990). At the core of his theory was the concept of differentiation, the degree of emotional reactivity to the family. His focus was helping individuals to avoid being "swallowed-up" by predictable family dynamics.  An extreme example of this type of dynamic is when an individual becomes involved in a violent family feud even when it is clearly against his own best interests. This concept of differentiation underpins the transition from “blind love” to “enlightened love” as it was later described by Bert Hellinger.

The Contextual Therapy of Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy (1920-2007) introduced the concepts of loyalties, justice, fairness and balance, which cross generations.  He saw how each person's actions inevitably have consequences for other family members and that those consequences flow from person to person and from generation to generation. This laid the groundwork for Bert Hellinger's idea that people  linked to a family through life-changing events would then become an integral part of that family system.


More recently the New Heidelberg School (Helm Stierlin, M.D., Fritz Simon M.D., Gunther Schmidt M.D., Gunthard Weber M.D.)  further developed multi-generational perspectives in systemic work.

At Abacon, there is an interesting history of systems work placed in the context of what was happening in history

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