Bert Hellinger Family Settings – what is systemic therapy all about?

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Louise Barnett
Louise Barnett
I'm Louise Barnett, the editor at, where my days are filled with the exploration of myriad subjects that pique my curiosity and feed my ever-growing appetite for knowledge. From the latest in laser cutting technology to the timeless wisdom of yoga and meditation, my work allows me to dive deep into topics that not only fascinate me but also have the potential to improve our daily lives. I have a particular interest in how ancient practices meet modern life, leading me to explore everything from Ayurveda to minimalism and beyond. My journey has taught me the importance of balance—between innovation and tradition, action and reflection, and between the digital and the natural world. Each article I publish is a step towards understanding this balance better, hoping to inspire others along the way.

Bert Hellinger’s Systemic Therapy is a method of psychotherapy that believes that people are dependent on the family systems in which they live. These systems affect our relationships, our behavior and our perception of the world. Bert Hellinger’s family setting is a technique that uses knowledge of social systems to treat patients. In the rest of this article, we will try to answer the question: what is systems therapy? We will look at various aspects of this method, including its history, principles, goals and benefits.

Bert Hellinger – who was he?

Bert Hellinger is a prominent German psychotherapist who focused mainly on family therapy in his work. He was born in 1925 and entered a Jesuit order at the age of 16. After studying philosophy and theology, he studied psychology and pedagogy before making a breakthrough in family therapy in 1966 using a combination of psychology and philosophy. His method of family therapy called family constellations was based on the idea that it was important for all family members to be involved and integrated.

Over the years, Bert Hellinger developed a system of philosophy that became the basis of his family therapy. The theory is based on several main principles, which are known as Hellinger’s principles. Each of these principles deals with the mutual influence of family members on each other. The first principle states that all family members should be important and valued, regardless of their attitudes toward life. The next principle says that family members should be dedicated to their lineage and have respect for everyone who is part of the family.

Bert Hellinger co-facilitated many conferences and trainings, sharing his knowledge with others. His goal was to bring his theory to other people and help them understand its principles. In his work, he proposed a number of tools for use in family therapy to help family members regain their strength and respect.

Bert Hellinger was an eminent psychotherapist who had a profound influence on the modern approach to family therapy. His theory and philosophy are still in use today and will certainly influence future generations.

Hellingerian settings therapy – what are settings?

Hellinger setting therapy is a system of psychotherapy developed by Bert Hellinger, a German psychoanalyst and psychotherapist. It is a holistic systemic therapy that takes into account family dynamics and relationships between family members. The goal of the therapy is to restore harmony and balance in the family.

The Hellinger setting is a therapeutic method in which the therapist uses a family setting to conduct therapy. The setting is modeled by selected patients or their “representatives,” which are arranged around the therapist. Through the setting, the therapist can reveal hidden aspects of family dynamics that can disrupt relationships between family members.

Hellinger settings use the psychological and emotional connections between family members to reveal blockages and challenges in family relationships. The therapist uses his intuition and observes how people affect each other. He then encourages them to reconcile to allow the energy to flow and complete the therapy. Hellinger settings are effective for relationship problems, trauma and psychological problems.

Hellinger setting therapy can help you gain a better understanding of family dynamics and their impact on mental health. It is an effective therapeutic method used by many psychotherapists to work with families and groups. The method is widely used in psychotherapy, in many cultures around the world.

What does the Hellinger setting process look like? Representative, supervision

Hellinger’s setting process, also known as settings, are Bert Hellinger’s methods used in systemic therapy, which is oriented toward change occurring in the space of mutual relationship to each other. Hellinger settings are used to clarify complex family problems, broken family relationships or the natural order in a group.

The representative or representative plays a key role in the Hellinger setting process, as they, symbolically, are seen as representatives of various family or group members. The representative represents, among other things, the strong emotions and moods that occur in the family, and then the participants try to regain peace by excluding what is not in line with the natural order.

Bert Hellinger’s systemic settings are conducted by therapists or supervisors who support participants in establishing a therapeutic relationship. Participants learn how to use their imagination to create an image of the family and learn about its psychodrama. At the end of the session, participants have the opportunity to understand how Hellingerian systemic therapy can help them solve problems and achieve their goals.

Assumptions of Bert Hellinger’s family settings

The basic premise of Hellinger therapy is that flowing from the bodies of family members, the settings reveal the quintessential psychological populism. The assumptions of the settings are very simple, yet effective tools that are drawn from pedagogy and psychology. During a setting, participants take part in a past event and an explanation quickly and spectacularly emerges. The process uses the principle that representatives of the living and the dead are chosen to become actual family members. In this way, what is at the root of the problem is supposed to come to light. As with other therapies, the effectiveness of Hellinger’s settings largely depends on the person’s satisfaction immediately after the session, and what happens to him or her after six months – it is not known whether the problems recur or whether the person remains in a permanent state of health. Bert Hellinger’s settings resemble the phenomenon of confounding sects, but they are based on psychology, not religion.

Criticism of family settings therapy

Family settings therapy, also known as systemic settings, is widely recognized as one of the most effective treatments. It is a method that helps identify the source of a problem at a deep level and is considered a step toward optimal change. Using family setting therapy, the patient can look toward their relationships with other people and play the role of family members in a specific event related to the family environment.

Nonetheless, many scholars have voiced their concerns and criticized family settings therapy, claiming that it was based on a philosophy and pedagogy that is not recognized by any of these orientations. According to them, in the case of family settings, the order between family members is more important than the good functioning of the individual. Many psychotherapists say that modern psychology must take into account the patient’s body signals and experience before working with family settings therapy. Then, and only then, can it cease to be seen as a tool for creating order between family members, but rather as a tool for healing the individual.

In 2022, the Netflix platform produced the series “The Other Self,” which tells the story of the family settings method.

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