Hellinger identified what he called “Orders of Love”. These are not hard and fast rules, but ways to re-establish a “good order” in the family system. There is not a fixed theory for the modality, but underlying principles of honouring and a respect for others, and an acceptance of what is without judgement.

Bonding and belonging

We are bound to our family systems by a deep need to belong. The bond to our parents begins even before birth – a child will do anything for the love of a parent.

‘Acting in the service of our need to belong, conscience bonds us to the persons and groups necessary of our survival regardless of the conditions they set for our belonging.’ Hellinger (1998 p. 7)

These connections are a source of strength when the energy within the system is clear. However, when there is an interruption in the flow of energy, described by Bert Hellinger as an entanglement, the system and each individual in the system, is potentially weakened. No member of that family will be able to fully access the strength that should flow through the generations.


Everyone belongs equally in a family system, dead, still born, aborted, whether they are talented, mentally ill, committed suicide, are handicapped, the black sheep, or for whatever reason, excluded. And everyone has their own place in the order of the system. Hierarchically, the first born child takes first place, then the second born, and so on. It may be that the first born child died soon after birth, and the other children in the family were never told – this child is still the first born, and needs to take the place in the family as the first born. Or a first wife comes before a second. Basically those that came first need to be acknowledged and the others follow in order.


Each family system has a point of equilibrium, a balance point where the system and those that belong feel most comfortable. This balance is built up over time by exchanges of giving and taking: a child being able to ‘take’ from his / her parents; a giving of love and respect; an acknowledgement of the other; or of more material gifts of money or things. The balance is upset when the giving is too much / too little or when the taking is too much / too little.

The restoration of balance and justice to the family system is facilitated by an acknowledgment of the right of previously excluded members to belong; acknowledging those who died young or had a difficult fate; and acknowledging victim / perpetrator trauma. Each individual may then have a place in the system where they may stand and feel more at ease. The family as a group will be able to ‘breathe’ and feel the energy within the system flow more easily.


Each member of the family has their own fate, regardless of how terrible it may be. Each person must carry this fate as their own burden and the feelings with it, and must take responsibility for everything that they have done or not done in their own life. This frees the other family members to fulfil their own destiny.