I have been doing Family Constellation Work for over ten years, and when I started, I had been doing Energy Psychology work (specifically CLEAR) for over five years. Energy Psychology removes trauma and blocks by stimulating Delta waves (as in deep sleep), which discard emotions and dissolve the neural pathway associated with the negative experience; tapping (a form of energy psychology) sends electromagnetic signals to the amygdala that eases negatives charges. So when I saw people showing signs of trauma in constellations, it came naturally for me to have them use clearing techniques of energy psychology as the constellation progressed.
During a constellation, I use muscle testing (explained in more detail below) on myself to test what participants need to do to clear as they are in the constellation. If the representatives, the person setting up the constellation, or the people watching show signs of trauma (strong emotion, strong body symptoms, disassociation, etc), clearing will be helpful. At the end of the constellation if anyone has difficulty coming back from a being a representative, it is my experience that something in them is getting triggered and once they clear it, they easily return to themselves.
To clear, the person will either hold one or more of the 14 acupressure points or do bilateral stimulation (also called EMDR), which entails alternately tapping on one side of the body and then the other (more below). I muscle test if there is something for a particular individual to clear; then test if it is points or bilateral stimulation. I then ask the person to either hold the point or alternately tap and feel what is occurring in their body as they stand in the constellation. I have found that all of this can be done easily and without disturbing the nature of the constellation. It also facilitates healing and resolution in the constellation.
What is Energy Psychology?
In order to understand energy psychology, it is helpful to understand how we become blocked. When we are growing up and things happen to us that we don’t like, we normally respond by tensing up and resisting the experience. We think things like, “I don’t want this, this is scary, I need to get away from this,” etc. And our very act of resisting keeps the body from processing the event and causes it to get stuck in our system. So if something comes along later that reminds us of this situation, we are “triggered.” The brain is alerted, and the fight or flight part of our brain (or reptilian brain) takes over. Because only one part of the brain works at any given time (unless there is a problem like an epileptic fit), when the reptilian brain is activated, we have no access to the rest of our brain. We are, therefore, in terms of problem solving, fairly limited because we only have the choice of fight, flight or immobility. Not great choices unless our lives are at stake.
Energy Psychology uses various methods to remove stuck triggers, though the most commonly used method is touching or tapping acupressure points. Some types of energy psychology are: EFT, (Emotional Freedom Technique), TFT (Thought Field Therapy), TAT (Tapas Acupressure Technique), WHEE (Whole Health Easily and Effectively), AIT (Advanced Integrated Therapy), and CLEAR (Clearing Limits Energetically with Acupressure Release).
What is CLEAR?
CLEAR uses bilateral stimulation, acupressure point therapy, somatic experiencing, clearing of blocking beliefs and muscle testing (or Kinesiology). I will explain each of these below.
Bilateral stimulation involves tapping alternately on right and left sides of the body while thinking of the issue being worked on. The theory is that the trauma is “frozen in time” and is energetically stuck on one side of the body or the other and alternatively tapping on the body while thinking of the issue frees it up.
There are fourteen acupressure points on the face, body & hands that correspond to various emotions and energy meridians (see acupressure point chart on https://www.changeworksinc.com/chart.html). Points are used when trauma is stuck in one or more of the meridians associated with that point. Light pressure is applied to the necessary point while putting one’s attention on the topic that is being addressed. (Some energy psychology methods tap on the points. I find light pressure is sufficient).
Somatic Experiencing, developed by Peter Levine, is used with both the acupressure point technique and bilateral stimulation. Levine surmised that because humans think, we avoid the processing necessary to heal trauma. We don’t want to experience the feelings and sensations that usually accompany difficult situations because they are unpleasant and they don’t feel good. We think, “I don’t want to feel that; I don’t like that feeling. It is unpleasant and I won’t be happy if I feel that. I want to get away from that feeling.” Our resistance to feeling is what gets trauma stuck because what we resist thinking is not processed by the body and remains locked into the body and thus our memories. Using somatic experiencing, we are present in the body and allow feelings and sensations to surface to our awareness so that the trauma can be reprocessed and thus be freed.
When we are triggered, we develop beliefs to explain what is going on—these are what I call blocking beliefs. For example, a child who has an abusive parent may decide that their parent is angry because they are bad and they deserve to be punished; there is something wrong with them or they could make it better if they could only figure out what to do differently. Once beliefs are developed, we then live our lives as though those beliefs about us are true—they impact us in every area of our lives. Blocking beliefs are cleared using the sore points on the chest between the collar bone and breast.
Muscle testing (also referred to as Applied Kinesiology) is a way to get feedback from the conscious and unconscious mind about what is going on in the body on physical, emotional and energetic levels. When the body is in the presence of something negative to that body, muscles are weaker than when it is in the presence of something positive. There are many ways to test muscles, but the most common is to press down on an arm, which is held out parallel to the ground. The logical brain is by-passed to get a true reading of what is occurring in the body/mind. A response of muscle strength is a “yes” or positive, and muscle weakness is a “no” or a negative.
In CLEAR, muscle testing is used to determine issues to clear, blocking beliefs, methods needed to clear—which acupressure points or bilateral stimulation are needed to clear the issue, and finally to see if the issue is indeed cleared. Muscle testing allows one to streamline the clearing process and only work on what the person’s muscle testing indicates is necessary to heal at that point in time.
I find that I can muscle test myself (explained in the book, Change Works with CLEAR) for other people, which is what I do in constellation work. I make a statement to myself such as, “there is something for this person to clear” and muscle test that by pressing down on one finger with the other, much like one pushes down on the arm of someone being tested. If one isn’t comfortable or familiar with muscle testing, it doesn’t hurt if people do the points or bilateral when it isn’t necessary, so one could use intuition and follow the “simplified version” of CLEAR (https://www.changeworksinc.com/tryclear.html) and the acupressure point chart which walks you through the process without having to use the muscle testing.
Examples of applying EP in a Constellation
A constellation is set up so that the woman’s father is facing the perpetrator over his dead father who is lying on the ground. The father is very angry and says he is filled with rage. I muscle test if there is something for him to clear, and the answer is yes, the outer eye point, which makes sense because that is the rage point (see table on website). I ask him to hold this point and just feel the rage for a minute. The representative for his daughter is off to the side and she is crying. I ask what is going on and she says she didn’t realize he was so angry, but it explains so much. I muscle test if she needs to clear and the result is yes, and she should do the bilateral stimulation. I ask her to tap alternately on herself to let her body process this stage of the constellation (I have prepared the group ahead of time so they know what this means and I have asked their permission to do this during the constellation). I then see how the woman who set the constellation up is doing, and she is also crying so I see if she needs to clear, and the answer is no. They stand there a minute or so and clear and then the constellation continues and her father and the perpetrator talk.
Another woman sets up representatives for herself and her mother (who is dying). The constellation progresses without too much emotion until the woman takes the place of the representative at the end. When she starts talking to her mother she starts sobbing. I muscle test myself to see if there is anything for her to clear and the answer is yes, the inner eye point. So I ask her to hold that point for a minute or two while she feels what is happening in her body. As her body processes, she begins to calm down and then is able to say what she needs to her mother. While this is occurring, another women watching begins to cry so I test to see if there is something for her to clear, and the answer is yes, so I test if it is bilateral and the answer is yes, so I ask that woman to do bilateral on herself and feel what is occurring in her body while the constellation continues. Later when we do a check-in, we’ll find out what was going on for her.
I highly recommend using energy psychology techniques when doing constellations to help ease the trauma involved in the family energetic and move the constellation to resolution; to help people clear anything raised by the constellation and to help bring people back. I have found the integration of the two processes natural and easy, and participants respond effortlessly. CLEAR is explained fully in the book, Change Works with CLEAR, clearing limits energetically with acupressure release.
Julie Roberts, Ph.D.
Julie was educated in organizational development, group process, leadership, and team development. She worked for 20 years as an organizational consultant in business and she has taught graduate leadership courses and group process for facilitators for twenty years. She specializes in personal and professional change so individuals and leaders overcome obstacles to reaching their full potential. She developed CLEAR, and uses BodyTalk, Family Constellation work, and coaching. She teaches CLEAR, and does private sessions and workshops to help people heal. Julie taught CLEAR in Nigeria and Russia. Women for Women International trained their Nigerian trainers in CLEAR to use with participants to help them deal with the trauma of war. She has written a how-to book describing CLEAR (Change Works with CLEAR, Clearing Limits Energetically with Acupressure Release), and is certified as an Energy Psychology practitioner by the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP).