Interview with an Animal Family Constellations Facilitator

Recently I had the honour of being interviewed by Joanna Schmidt who is an animal communicator and practitioner of shamanic arts in Bellingham, WA. She was curious to learn more about my work with animal family constellations and I am excited to share it below.

By Joanna Schmidt –

I had the great fortune to sit down with Sabine Olsen from Aldergrove, B.C. and learn about her incredible work with animals using a powerful, yet not very well known healing modality called Family Constellations. I am thrilled to share this short interview where she shares about this healing method and how it works.

I hope you enjoy!

Joanna: I have heard great things about the healing family constellations work you offer. Can you tell us about why you love this work and the kinds of things you love to help animals and their people with?

Sabine: I love this work because it’s relatively fast, you don’t need hours and hours of therapy; one session is all that’s required and recommended for any one issue.  I also love it because it immediately shows the true picture of a situation, not just for me but for the client and all participants of the circle (when we’re doing constellations in a group setting).  The truth is right there in front of your eyes! And I love when a constellation is resolved – the feeling of a weight off your shoulders, a lightening of your load so to speak and compassion for yourself and your family is incredible.  It’s all LOVE! And one more thing: I love that people who are completely new to constellation work can step right in and represent someone’s family member and the truth comes out of their mouths!

The kinds of things that lend themselves to constellation work are issues you could address with animal communication also, but where I sense that they go deeper and affect the whole family and where immediate healing would be beneficial.  These include an animal showing strange behavior with a new family member or living situation, a sudden change in behavior or the same bad habit over and over again that is just frustrating to the animal’s person.  It can also include prolonged sadness e.g. where a horse lost a long time companion and is clearly in some distress, in that case, a constellation would be very helpful both for the living and the departed animals, as well as the animal’s people of course.

Joanna: Can you share with us, what you mean when you use the term, “Constellation” in reference to a family? It is similar to a star constellation?

Sabine: Yes, it is my understanding that this is the reason Bert Hellinger called it constellations.  I believe it refers to the way a family is set up or constellated in a circle. For instance, a client might set up himself, his parents and his dog, they will be positioned in the circle according to the client’s inner feeling. During the constellation, the family members move around to different positions, just like the stars move in the sky.

Joanna: How does this work benefit animals and their people?

Sabine: Animals can take on issues or problems that don’t belong to them. Sometimes these problems we see the animals struggling with are the same ones their owners are also struggling with.  These might show up as illnesses or behavioral problems that cannot be resolved using conventional methods.

In a family constellations session, the true, hidden causes of the issues are revealed and profound healing can occur for the animals and their people.  I have witnessed animals feel immediate relief as they are no longer required to bring their owner’s attention to the issue.

Joanna: What are sessions like, when people work with you?

Sabine: I offer monthly group constellation circles in Aldergrove, B.C. that are usually 2 ½ hours long. Each group session allows for for 2 or 3 constellations.  Pets are not required to be present for these sessions,  as we use members of the group to represent them and it wouldn’t be very practical to have them present as I work with all kinds of different animals!  However, it might be beneficial to have another family member present but that is really just an added bonus, the work can be done very well without them being there.

The beauty about these circles is that people benefit even if they don’t set up a constellation, it always amazes me how the issues that come up also have relevance to other group members!   In addition to group sessions, I also offer individual sessions in my home – the same principle applies, pets and family members are not required to be present.  An individual session takes about 1 to 1 ½ hours and is just as effective as a group session.

Joanna: Can you tell us about a success story from your healing work that stands out in your mind?

Sabine: I remember a group constellation where a dog who loved to go for long walks in the woods suddenly didn’t want to come along anymore, she simply wouldn’t move more than a few feet. She did have a physical issue with her paws which her person thought to be the reason for this behavior. When we set up a constellation it was revealed that her person was taking in more and more rescue dogs and as a result, she felt sidelined and unimportant.

All she needed was her person’s assurance that she was the most important dog in the family, the number one dog. Once she received that on a daily basis she was happy to go for walks again.

Joanna: Thanks for sharing that story! Lovely! What are the other kinds of problems that you specifically offer help with for animals and their people?

Sabine: Most often I can help with behavioral problems or physical symptoms that are resistant to change. Behavioral problems I work with include aggressiveness, an unexplainable change in temperament, hiding from visitors, urinating on furniture or carpets or an inability to get along with other pets in the family.  Physical symptoms I work with include any symptoms that persist even after extensive veterinary attention and are perplexing, for instance, a cat who gets diarrhea every time a certain family member leaves for college.

Joanna: I am glad you offer help for these things that cause so much stress and struggle for animals and their family. I get the impression that much like the shamanic and intuitive healing I offer animals, that family constellations practitioners rely a great deal on their intuition to detect these subtle energy imbalances within the family constellation. Is this true?

Sabine: Well, I wouldn’t call it relying on their intuition, it’s more like receiving information. Of course, you have to be open and receptive to what’s coming through and put your ego aside during the session.  When you’re in a constellation some magic happens, you’re in this sacred “knowing field” and information is coming through, not only to the facilitator but also to the representatives even if they think they’re not particularly intuitive or sensitive. That I think is part of the magic.

Joanna: Can you share about how this work was developed and where it came from?

Sabine: Systemic Family Constellations was developed by Bert Hellinger in post WWII Germany after he spent 16 years as a priest and missionary among the Zulu tribe in South Africa. During this exposure to their customs and rituals, he discovered that each family has a soul, an invisible energy field to which all members of the family belong from birth.

Our ancestors’ history, including race, the country we live in and religion forms the conscience of this family soul. He realized that powerful events in the lives of our ancestors have an effect on the whole family system; these include divorce, miscarriages, abortions, adoptions, immigration, suicides, murder, war experiences or religious persecution. If these traumatic events are not acknowledged at the time they occur it will create a disharmony and imbalance in the family system.  So, if the system is out of balance because an event was not dealt with by the family members involved, one of the descendants of the family may unconsciously try to restore balance to the system.  Totally unaware that they are compensating for an ancestor’s traumatic life experience, they might suffer an illness, financial hardship, or some other life difficulty just so they can bring his or her fate to light, and by doing that they are not able to live their own life fully.

The essence of family constellation work is “acknowledging what is”, good or bad, and through this acknowledgement, healing can occur and harmony can be restored to the system.

Joanna: Thanks so much for talking with me, Sabine! how can people get in touch with you to find out more about the work you offer?

Sabine: I can be contacted through my website, via email at,  via phone at 604-499-4448.