Bert Hellinger

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Bert Hellinger


The characteristic way of working with family constellations described on this website was first developed by the innovative German Family Therapist Bert Hellinger in the 1980's. It has since been adopted and further developed by a number of very talented practitioners. Hellinger has been described as the ultimate empiricist. This is because he bases his work on strict observation of phenomena, without being hamstrung by previous theoretical understandings (phenomenology). This often has surprising and controversial outcomes, as Bert's compassion encompasses both the victims and the perpetrators of trauma, crime and injustice.

Bert Hellinger acknowledges several important influences on his life and work: his parents, whose faith immunised him against accepting Hitler's National Socialism; his twenty years as a priest, particularly as a Missionary to the Zulu in South Africa; and his participation in inter-racial ecumenical training in the group dynamics led by Anglican clergy.

After leaving the priesthood, he studied psychoanalysis and eventually developed an interest in Gestalt therapy and Transactional Analysis. Hellinger later trained in family therapy. It was here that he first encountered family constellations It was his application of the phenomenological approach to family constellations which produced his characteristic way of working.

He has used his acute observational abilities, with this method to build on and transcend more conventional family therapies. He has also discovered that there are natural laws, or orders that support the healthy flow of love in relationships.

Hellinger, who now lives in Germany, is an immensely popular and controversial figure in Europe. Despite passing 80 years of age, he still travels extensively in Europe, Asia, North and South America, giving workshops.

Since 2003 Bert Hellinger has been giving workshops with his much younger second wife, Maria-Sophie. During this time his strength has progressively waned and concomitantly his wife's influence has increased. This has lead to a significant change in his style, which in turn has resulted in many of Hellinger's earlier students distancing themselves from him. This recent development has resulted in the work, which Hellinger originated, becoming more mature and less reliant on his charismatic personality.

For more information about Bert Hellinger, his life story and his influences click here


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