As I move closer to beginning the first Family Energetics Mentoring Intensive, it's a good time to look back and see how this versatile and effective healing method came into being. It's both a connected understanding of how trauma works on larger and smaller scales, and a toolset that can adapt to all of these scales. If I were younger, there would surely be a book. But, at 75, I may be a bit too relaxed to undertake that.
Why Did I Create Family Energetics (FE)
By 2014, I had learned Family Constellations (FC) over a 6 year period from a wide range of European and American teachers (14, actually). 350 hours of training in life and business coaching made me also an ICF Certified Professional Coach. I had a manageable little business and had written both HEALTH HAPPINESS AND FAMILY CONSTELLATIONS and THE FAMILY CONSTELLATION PRACTICE BUILDER. In the background remained 30 years of indigenous shamanic healing practice.
But some things troubled me. Many prominent FC facilitators were suggesting that ALL client suffering was inherited from ancestors, so that constellations alone could engineer complete recoveries. And the many who followed Hellinger closely said that FC was not a therapy and that it did not deal with trauma. I didn't buy any of that.
So I began a deep dive into the most current understandings of trauma that happens to us personally. I wanted to know much more about how it worked and what the best methods for healing it were. That's when even more interesting things started to happen.
My Research into Personal Trauma
I've always been a voracious reader. Via various books I thus pieced together the roots and branches of today's neurologically based understanding of personally experienced trauma--and the recovery methods based on it. It runs from Porges landmark study of the vagus nerve into Levine's equally important books, spreading then into substantial works by Scaer, Siegel, Berceli, Ogden et. al., and van der Kolk (see References at the bottom).
The healing methods arising from these range from the now mainstream Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), to Levine's Somatic Experiencing, Siegel's implicit memory work, Berceli's Trauma Release Exercises (TRE), and Ogden's Sensorimotor methods. And then there was also a group of tools, with different roots, clustered loosely under the heading of Energy Psychology (EP). All but the first of these are more "alternative."
For my money, CBT was just too exclusively "rational." The middle three were longer term, deep approaches that worked quite slowly (like, a couple years). Not taking insurance, and tending to have briefer, more solution focused interactions with clients--these seemed beyond my ability to afford the trainings. Or attract clients that could afford me using them. None of these, let me note, yet really included heritable trauma.
At this point, fate (or my spirit guides) stepped in. Bob Schwarz, Philadelphia based director of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP), popped into my first EFT training for a day. I gave him one of my books. He responded with an unofficial invitation to present heritable trauma and constellations at their annual conference.
What is Family Energetics?
The rest is now history. I focused my personally experienced training dollars in Energy Psychology, and have presented now 7 years at ACEP conferences. This includes one half and one whole day post conference training. Bob and I formed the Keynoters singing/songwriting duo which introduces keynote speakers. And I gradually figured out how to mesh meridian tapping, eye movement, and muscle testing with Family Constellations in a way that each improves the other.
Family Energetics consists of a vision and methods arising from it. Key to the vision is that the inner family of personality parts is nested in and shaped by the developmental and ancestral families. These emerge similarly from larger organizational, religious, or ethnic collectives. All of them are genuine distributed collective intelligences that act largely subconsciously--more or less independent of rational awareness. They are created by built in, neurologically hard wired, social empathy systems.
Trauma, on all these scales, does similar things. It cuts off the rational from these subconscious social collectives. The mission statement and the corporate culture cannot understand or cooperate with each other. As Lynn McTaggert says, we are "born to bond." Trauma creates profound systemic disconnections.
This all means that personally experienced trauma (which leaves personality parts at odds) is often anchored by unprocessed trauma to a larger system that contains it. It cannot always be successfully healed by treating the individual alone. Sometimes you need to scale up and remediate the internalized, inherited damage to the family or ethnic group. One outstanding example is large numbers of Jewish people whose life experiences (inexplicably to them) echo the holocaust.
So we need ways of promoting healing on different levels of these nested systems. And of course, an ability to figure out on which levels the sticking points are. The essence of this is that we are dealing with systems within systems, and must watch for interactions between the scales or levels.
What is Family Energetics?
How then does FE work? Actually, any of the trauma healing methods mentioned above can adopt this perspective of individually experienced trauma nested within heritable. But, frankly, I have found that constellation work, broadly construed, coupled with the central methods of Energy Psychology are an extremely good match. Used properly together (I've worked out the guidelines for that), each improves the effectiveness of the other.
The primary rule of thumb for integrating them is: "bulky" FC requires "slim" EP, and vice versa. To upack this go HERE and scroll to slides 80-83. Then come the four, what I call "contrarian," guidelines (slides 87-91), and tips for setting up and scaling up or down (slides 92-97). There's a lot packed into these, of course. You can learn more on my website HERE. And the Family Energetics Mentoring Intensives that I'm teach now give you a real chance to learn and practice.
This is a leading edge intergration of many threads, including mainstream traumatology, constellation work, and Energy Psychology--with supporting streams from coaching and shamanism. Honestly, it works extremely well in my healing practice, and I'm sort of proud of having come up with it. :-)
Porges, Stephen. **THE POLYVAGAL THERY
Levine, Peter. **IN AN UNSPOKEN VOICE,
**WAKING THE TIGER--HEALING TRAUMA
Scaer, Robert. **TRAUMA SPECTRUM
**THE BODY BEARS THE BURDEN
Berceli, David. **THE REVOLUTIONARY TRAUMA RELEASE PROCESS
**TRAUMA RELEASING EXERCISES
Siegel, Danial. **MINDSIGHT
**THE POCKET GUIDE TO INTERPERSONAL NEUROBIOLOGY
Ogden, Pat et al. **TRAUMA AND THE BODY
van der Kolk, Bessel. **THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE
Family Energetics--Why, What, & How
Five Facts About Personal and Ancestral Trauma
Personality Layers--Why Some Wounds Need More Than One Healing
Solution Focus Solves the Problem
3 Steps to Safety in Extreme Weather
Power up Your Affirmations with Breath
Seed Time--or Grow a Good Future
Can Empathy Win at Armageddon?
Earth, Families, and Personal Transformation
Good Health as a Sacred Fire
Your Safety as Earth-Changes Accelerate
Karen and the Alien Hand--Why I Do Inner Family Constellations
Music, Migrations, and Health--In Tough Times
Better Private Family Constellations: The Three Session Package