Therapeutic goals: help adolescents and adults mature internally, to understand the process of life integration and support coping with traumatic situations in life by raising one’s own consciousness, develop your life potential
Recommended age group: adults 18-60 years old
Secondary target group: health and social nurses, doctors, medical and special pedagogues, psychologists, clergy
Brief content of the work:
The author of the book, Wilfried Nelles, originally a scientific and pedagogical worker in the field of social sciences, began to devote himself to therapy after 12 years of university experience. In 1996, he met the family constellations of Bert Hellinger (2008) and was inspired by them. He understood the advantage of representing the client in constituencies. He discovered that the second person as a representative can feel and experience the feelings of the one for whom he is placed, and the client can look at himself from a distance, which helps him to change. (It was a mystery why this phenomenon works, but later neuroscientists found an explanation for it). Nelles initially also devoted himself to family constellations, later he focused on their spiritual side (2010). From 2012, he began to develop his own approach to constellations, which he called the Life Integration Process (LIP, from the German “Lebens – Integrations – Prozess”).
In the book Embrace Your Life, Nelles’ approach is explained in detail, which differs in content from Hellinger’s original approach. Hellinger in therapy, in order to clarify the dynamics and relationships in the client’s family, places representatives for members of the family system (they can move) in a common space, while family dramas are resolved. Nelles places representatives in stable positions (in a circle) behind the client’s degrees of consciousness. (The representatives know, at which level of consciousness they are placed and I understand what comes to their mind at the given position, that it concerns the client for whom the constellation is being built, with their consent). In the LIP constellation, the therapist’s attention is focused on the adult client here and now (p. 73) and on the question – how should the client now approach events from his childhood, the past. Would he need another family? According to Nelles, what an adult client really needs is not a better place in the past, but a clear orientation in the Here and Now. This is what his LIP process is all about.
At the beginning of the book, Nelles describes in detail his approach to LIP – he clarifies the stages of maturity of a person’s consciousness in life. He distinguishes a total of seven of them (p. 13), but only the first four are discussed in detail here.
At the 1st level, it is a symbiotic (unconscious) awareness of the unity of the mother and the child in the womb. Nelles notes that the seeds of beliefs, feelings and behaviors that accompany a person throughout their life are formed here. (If the mother’s pregnancy was problematic, similar problems also appear in later stages of life).
At the second level – in childhood it is primarily about group consciousness. It is influenced by the relationship with family members and peers at school (more Nelles, 2010).
Te third level – in the period of adolescence, the Self-Consciousness is formed in a person. Adolescents feel their dependence on the family and want to break free from it, even if they are not economically, legally, or mentally capable of it. He still needs his parents, but he is losing his childhood certainties and is dealing with the question “Who am I?” He depends on himself, he stands up to everything old, but he has no clear orientation, many different affiliations arise, he doesn’t know where he really belongs.
The fourt level – self-awareness arises in the life stage of adulthood. On p. 29, Nelles characterizes it as follows: As adults, “we no longer look after others, we don’t even look after them. We may not care what others think of us, especially our closest or dearest, but we are no longer guided by it. Nor we don’t oppose them in spirit or in our thoughts, and we don’t mind what others do either.” A truly mature person is concerned with what the situation is doing to him and when he accepts his feelings, he can act effectively in them. This is essential so that he does not remain helpless in a difficult situation, so that he knows how to find a way out of it.
A degree of collective consciousness can also be detected in society. According to Nelles, “historically and empirically, Self-awareness – the real maturity of people in society is a rare exception” (p.32). Consciousness in modern society is usually at the level of Self-Consciousness, like that of an adolescent. Then a person is still fighting to separate himself from his parents, from tradition and forgets to move on, he forgets to become an adult. At the same time, achieving a higher degree of self-awareness among the majority of people in society could contribute to more effective solutions to problems in society.
Individually – each of the mentioned levels of consciousness has its meaning in human life, every person goes through them and they cannot be suppressed, but they must be recognized. E.g. realizing that a certain situation is a problem for my “inner child” but not for me now that I’m an adult. In each of the periods of life, problems can arise that prevent a person from growing up internally, as a person. According to Nelles, when building constellations with representatives, problems are encountered, an opportunity arises to deal with them – the adult (client) leaves his experience to his inner child, without finding fault. At the same time, the adult can raise his consciousness under the guidance of a therapist and experience the Life Integration Process.
In the book, Nelles deals with how one can reach Self-Awareness in modern society, what a person loses by rejecting God, what science can give him, or what life can teach him if he can open himself to it. The constellation method that Nelles developed has proven to be useful for many problems, for example, in the treatment of trauma, or recurring problems that have failed to be eliminated by other therapeutic procedures. In doing so, Nelles describes his own experiences with this method, as well as his work with clients and their stories. In his LIP (p.90) “the focus of the work is on Being, on what we have always been and what wants to develop in the process of our life“. We have to accept what has happened and is happening in our lives. In this sense, one must “embrace one’s life”, that is, accept it and embrace it as it was and is. The end of the book was devoted to the methodical procedure for constellation work. He expressed his conviction (p.94): “there is no other method by which accurate information about the hidden aspects of interpersonal relationships, about suppressed inner parts, feelings and much more can be brought to light as quickly as the constellation method”. Currently, Nelles’s approach is receiving the recognition it deserves, the 1st European conference on integration constellation work will be held in Prague (Czechia).
Description of the possibilities of therapeutic work:
The best way to understand Nelles’ constellation work in the book is from the small exercise on p. 74 and others. He was building his own levels of consciousness. He stood in the place of an adult and asked the representatives to stand on the previous stages and feel inside how they feel there. He looked first at his representative in the womb. He recognized the movements she made in this position. Everything he saw confirmed his life path. It continued in other positions, the inner vision of his life remained the same, but the child and adolescent had to overcome different conflicts. Adult Nelles felt love for his inner child and all it needed from him was recognition. Nelles understood that we come into the world with an inner vision, our own potential, a gift of life that wants to unfold. This fact has been confirmed for many clients in the constellations led by him.
The book contains many suggestions for therapeutic work with adult clients and their inner child. It is important that the inner child feels seen and accepted even by adults, as he is, with everything he has experienced. He does not need pity and compassion, that has been clearly shown (the example of a child who was abused in childhood on p. 83). Nelles here critically compares his approach with the original family constellations made by Hellinger. This can be helpful for therapists who get to know them.
Description of experience from own work with the work:
After completing the training I informed the students of the Pedagogical Faculty of the University of Bratislava, who were interested in it, about W. Nelles’ constitutive and integrative approach. It also met with a positive response from other, older interested parties in the public.
Hellinger, B., 2008, Happiness that remains, Where family constellations lead, Equilibrium, Prague, 94 p., ISBN: 978-80-254-1798-0
Nelles, W., 2010, Life has no way back, Ježek, Rychnov nad Kněžnou, 216 p., ISBN: 80-85996-42-1.
It didn’t pass language editing!
The recommendation was created by:
PhDr. Viera Diešková, CSc., Bratislava, Slovakia; Last update: May 5th 2023
The recommendation from Slovak to English translated by: Mária Trechová, Workplace: PRO SKIZP – Association for support of Slovak Chamber of Physicists, Laboratory Diagnosticians, Language Speech Therapists and Therapeutic Educators, c. a. Bratislava, Slovakia
Recommended citation procedure:
Diešková, Viera, 2023. Odborná referencia a zdieľanie skúseností k literárnemu dielu Obejmi svůj život od autora Wilfried Nelles. [Professional reference and sharing of experiences for the literary work Obejmi svúj život by the author Wilfried Nelles.] In Kotrbová, K. et al: Biblioterapia.sk. Bratislava: PRO SKIZP – Association to support the development of the Slovak Chamber of Clinical Physics, Laboratory Diagnosticians, Language Speech Therapists and Therapeutic Pedagogues, 2023. ISBN 978-80-974667-0-1 Available on: https://www.biblioterapia.sk/en/publikacia/professional-reference-of-literary-piece-embrace-your-life/
The contribution was created thanks to support from the European Union Erasmus+ program, Key action 2 – Cooperation between organizations and institutions, KA210 – Small partnerships for cooperation in the field of education and training. Project name “Prototype of online teaching aid for bibliotherapy”, project number 2022-1-SK01-KA210-VET-000082483. It represents the opinion of the author and the European Commission is not responsible for any use of the information contained therein.