“Next, draw your father,” she directs, and I draw him near me, but not too near. “Good. Your mother?” I draw her on the other side. “Any siblings?” I nod. “Draw them.” I draw my brother, a small distance away from my mother. I look at the picture, and then suddenly something switches on in my brain, or my subconscious, or something, somewhere. I pause … reconsider … and redraw my brother right next to my mother. They’re so close they’re touching, almost overlapped in the picture … like one person instead of two.
“Hmmm,” VanWetter says, watching. “There’s something.”

I am at the very beginning of a consultation using VanWetter’s Family Matters system, a healing method that uses a variety of cutting edge tools including Systemic Constellations, a therapy developed by Bert Hellinger in Germany. Systemic Constellation therapy, which is the therapy we are working with now, has been tremendously popular in Europe, England and South America over the past 50 years.

VanWetter, a Corvallis-based therapist who presents workshops up and down the west coast, is one of those who is bringing it to the U.S.
“Talk therapy has been with us for decades, but now therapists are beginning to realize that there are many other tools that work with the body and the whole consciousness, that work better, faster, and with more result,” Van Wetter explains.

“When we heal our ancestors, we heal ourselves. The idea is nearly tribal — that what your great-great-grandmother did back in the old country might affect you now. But it does. And until the collective unconscious has healed, the individual cannot heal … no matter how much talk therapy you experience.”

“We saw this a lot with people in Germany, who might have had family members who were Nazis,” she explains. “In Systemic Constellations, we have a way to show the individual that they don’t have to carry on the same guilt or shame that an ancestor did.” Those who have suffered abuse or molestation usually benefit from the therapy, she says.

Van Wetter will teach a two-day workshop in Salem that will use Family Matters Systemic Constellations in a group setting.

The workshop will be held May 25 and 26 at the HOME Center, 3892 Lancaster Dr. NE.  A free introduction to Family Matters will be held Friday, May 25 from 7-9 p.m. On Saturday, May 26, an all-day workshop will be held from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Cost is $65 to attend, $105 to set a Constellation. For information, call (541) 753-1820 or e-mail catherine@courageconsultants.net

Sara Wiseman owns Wiseman Creative, a Salem marketing and public relations firm. Contact her at  wiseman@open.org.