The Integrity of Love
Connie Donaldson, MA
Breaking the Cycle of Family Pain
by Connie Donaldson
(Published in
Point of Light Magazine, Fall 2005)

Some people come to the Bert Hellinger Institute of Pennsylvania in Squirrel Hill for a Family
Constellation because they’ve tried everything else, and nothing has worked. Some come because of
the profound changes they’ve seen in a friend or family member. Most people come away from the
experience deeply affected.

Eighteen of us are sitting in a semicircle of straight-backed chairs facing Mark Wolynn, the institute's
director, who introduces the work. Six have come ready to do their Family Constellations; the rest of
us have come to observe and possibly participate as representatives. In a Constellation Workshop,
representatives stand in for actual family members who needn’t be there for the healing to take place.
Thomas (no participant’s real name is used) is the first to do his work.

Mark’s question is simple, “What issue do you want to work with?”

Thomas answers with candor. “I have a terrible problem with depression and loneliness. So far,
nothing I’ve tried has helped. I’m hoping this will.”

Mark asks a few more questions and then tells Thomas to choose three representatives—one for
himself, his mother, and his father—and, without talking, to place them in relationship to each other
within the room in a way that feels right to him.

Thomas chooses me to represent his mother. I stand and let him lead me to the middle of the room,
facing away from the other two representatives.

Mark instructs the representatives, “This is not about being psychic, nor is it psychodrama or acting.
There’s nothing you need to do. Just stand and notice what you’re feeling. Tune in to your body, and
notice what you’re aware of, and to whom your attention is going in the constellation. Remember, this
has nothing to do with you or your family. You’re in service to Thomas and his family.”

I take a deep breath, try to get myself centered, and wait. Then I’m aware of Mark’s voice.

“Representatives, go with your movements. Move in any way that feels right to you.”

Weird as it seems, without any conscious thought on my part, I feel the need to move. Although it’s
completely illogical and I’m somewhat embarrassed to do it, I slowly but deliberately move to the
farthest edge of the room. It’s as if I feel the need to get as far away as I can from these people, to go
and never look back.  
Continue to the next page.