Michael Reddy, Ph.D, CPC
           Healer  Trainer  Author   610 469 7588

Wednesday November 22, 2017
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Wellness Coaching FAQs

Family Constellations—At a Glance

What's Behind This Approach?

Through acts of childlike, but innocent and unrealistic love, many of us try to share the unaccepted burdens of ancestral family members. Chronic ailments or failures are often not just an individual issue.  They are anchored in an unconscious, trans-generational “family system,” or “family soul.”  They are most easily healed by re-alignments on this level.

Give me an Example!

Grandmother was forced to marry someone she didn’t love.  She buried deep feelings for another, and lived out her days embittered by this.  Empathising unconsciously with this lost love, even though Mom chose a good husband--she was never able to open up to him. Without knowing why, she would not accept what her mother was denied.  And now daughter is having persistent, seemingly mysterious troubles relating to men. Daughter’s hidden bond to these ancestors, her “systemic loyalty,” opposes her own success in love.

If Hidden Loyalties to Family Systems do Affect Us--What Can be Done?

The good news is that short, simple, inexpensive interventions can not only reveal these bonds, but also realign the family soul—so that love and strength flow unfettered through the ancestral group to the individual.  These techniques, originating in Germany, and known in the US as Systemic, or Family Constellation Work, expand our Western notions of healing.  They shift chronic conditions and failures otherwise quite resistant.  In the example above, for instance, Daughter can clear this undermining loyalty and succeed in love.

What Benefits Can I (or my clients or loved ones) Expect from Constellations?

Typically, you will

  • Reveal and re-align hidden loyalties to your ancestral family, and release anchors for stubborn problems in health, relationships, or career
  • Experience a spontaneous resolution to your problem, or find that previously ineffective remedies now work
  • Strengthen the harmony and solidarity of your immediate and ancestral family, even it it has been significantly disfunctional in the past.
  • Enjoy increased freedom and ease in your own life, and discover a tool to recommend to clients or loved-ones who find their own progress mysteriously blocked

What Kind of Problems Have Constellations Helped Solve?

Ancestral loyalties become anchor points for a large variety of dysfunctions. Some of the conditions constellations have helped to heal are:

  • depression, anxiety, panic disorders, obsessive thoughts, fears, phobias, guilt, persistent anger, lingering grief, bi-polar disorder, OCD, ADHD, ADD, PTSD
  • asthma, colitis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, IBS, reproductive health issues, other chronic diseases
  • failed relationships, financial difficulties, family violence, addictions, sexual problems, difficult transitions

If you are subconsciously holding on to a disease or condition, out of loyalty and love for someone else in your family, it is hard to heal it.  When the constellation reveals and shifts that loyalty, you are free to change.

More Questions in This Area?

Email me at michael@reddyworks.com or call me at 610 469 7588


Family Constellations—Core Concepts

What is the “Family Soul”?

A timeless, transgenerational group character or dynamic associated with all families that includes recent ancestors. Roles played in it persist unseen into later life and have powerful effects, both positive and negative.

What are the “Orders of Love”?

The patterns we have learned family souls follow as they act to sustain and balance the flow of life and love through generations. Serious exclusions or injustices, for example, damage the flow. 

What are “Entanglements” (Systemic Loyalties)?

Children’s loving, but unrealistic attempts tohold the family together by taking onto themselves burdens unaccepted by parents or ancestors. Also called “entanglements.” “You couldn’t face it, so I will…”

Why is “Unaccepted” a Key Issue?

It’s not so much what happens in families, but how it is processed and ultimately accepted or not that matters. Accepting what’s real strengthens; serious denials pass burdens on to later offspring.

How are “Entanglements” (Systemic Loyalties) Resolved?

Clients become aware of carrying burdens for other family members and work to return those where they belong. Accepting their own fates (somehow even after death) strengthens and clarifies ancestors, who now send healing to the client.

What Happens in a Constellation? (brief answer)

Representatives selected resonate to members of the family soul. As what is out of order becomes apparent, various techniques bring new clarity to the client, and restore order to the soul.  The client receives a new "felt image."  See Ways of Performing Constellations below for more details.

Where does Constellation Work Come From?

It has been developed by Burt Hellinger, a German. He was a missionary priest, influenced by the Zulu, who later left the church and studied various therapies. It is growing worldwide at a great rate.  

More Questions in This Area?

Email me at michael@reddyworks.com or call me at 610 469 7588


Family Constellations--Ways of Performing

How are constellations carried out in group workshops? (longer illustration)

To begin with, there are usually some introductory explanations, and participants accept a solemn obligation not to speak about what happens in people's constellations.  Then:

  1. Someone becomes the client and presents “an issue” and the facilitator tunes in and asks some general questions about family background. 
    [19 year old, oldest son, migraines since early age, always worst in the autumn-- says they now threaten his job. Facilitator learns client’s uncle, father’s older brother, was killed from concussion in stairway fall at age 4. Grandpa didn’t fix stair rail, Grandma wasn’t watching child carefully—each blamed the other.]
  2. Based on knowledge of the orders of love and the possible entanglements, the facilitator has the client chose people from the circle to “represent” family members likely relevant to the issue and place them silently somewhere in the room.  Usually a representative for the client is placed as well.
    [Representatives are selected and placed for Grandfather, Grandmother, the uncle killed, Father, and the client.  The uncle killed is asked to lay down on the floor.]
  3. The representatives stand in silence for a while.  They are asked to notice and perhaps speak briefly about their non-verbal reactions to each other--who’s close to who, who’s looking where, how their body feels, and generally who’s comfortable and who’s not.   Often, they move to positions that feel better. 
    [Grandmother and Grandfather don’t look at the son who died, or at each other; Father faces his lost older brother, but seems distracted.  The client’s representative, however, goes and sits on the floor next to his lost uncle.]
  4. Typically, an image of what has happened to the family soul emerges.  If it is correct, the client, along with various representatives, will likely be deeply moved, sometimes in tears.  The impact of watching strangers tune in to deep truths about one’s family is intense to say the least.
    [Facilitator: “When did your headaches start?”  Client: “Around age 4, I guess.” Facilitator: “Well your uncle died at age 4 as well, of a head injury, and what time of year was it?” Client: “Dad told me he tripped on his Halloween costume, grabbed the stair rail, and it gave way…  So it was autumn probably…” Facilitator: “Which is exactly when your headaches get worst…  Grandmother and Grandfather didn’t deal with your uncle’s death—so your headaches are.”]
  5. The facilitator now uses repositioning and “healing sentences” to reconnect what was somehow excluded or disrespected in the family soul, and free the client from the effort to share, follow, atone, do, or feel similar things
    [Facilitator now works with Grandmother and Grandfather to see if they can reconcile and mourn their lost son.  Typically they will.  As they do, they are freed up to look downstream at their grandchild, the client, and say something like:  “Thank you for carrying this, but it is our fate and our burden.  Give it back to us now and live free from headaches.”  Facilitator then works with client to give back the burden.  He might have the client say: “I give this grief back to you. For me to feel it damages me and does not help you.  You carry it please.  Honor me if I thrive.”]
  6. The client is advised to let this reframing sink in over weeks or months.  The facilitator may or may not give “homework” to reinforce the shift in “felt perspective,”  No one talks to the client for a while.
    [Client’s headaches are immediately better, and are completely gone by the following autumn.]

How are private constellations done in person?

The process is the same as that of the group situation explained immediately above, with one exception.  After the client states an issue, and the brief interview is conducted about family background (see previousl question), colored footprints are placed on the floor by the client to represent different ancestors.  Both the client and the facilitator will stand at different times on these foot prints and tune in to the feelings.  Typically, there will be new arrangements of the footprints as the constellation proceeds.   

The family dynamic appears and its resolution proceeds in the same manner as in a group.  Some constellators use objects arranged on a table to set up the family system.  My own preference is to use the footprints, since placing my own and the client's physical bodies in the different positions seems to strengthen the process.

How are private constellations done over the phone?

Once again, the statement of an issue and the interview process remain the same as in the group explained two questions above.  Sometimes the telephone constellation will be carried out in one session with both the client and the facilitator choosing different positions in their respective rooms to represent different ancestors.  Each one will stand at different times in these positions to tune in.  The resolution takes place in a guided meditation. 

At other times, I have found it more effective to extend the constellation over a period of time.  I have the client set up an "altar" or "family shrine" in their home, chose objects intuitively to represent ancestors, and we watch them "move around" in the intervals between two or more phone sessions.  In this case, clients visit the altar regularly, stay present to their feelings, and then often send me pictures when new arrangements show up.  I will also set up configurations myself for the client. 

What Form of Constellation is Best for Me?

That depends on how you weigh the following several factors.

  • One on one constellations, either in person or by telephone, offer privacy, usually unfold a bit slower with less time pressure than in a workshop, and afford you the complete attention of a fresh facilitator. Though some constellators differ on this, my practice is to be available for follow up sessions, support, and/or wellness coaching as needed.
  • On the other hand, if you have any doubts about the efficacy and reality of this approach, attending a workshop will typically dispell them.  Seeing strangers tune in with such clarity and love to the dynamic of a family they do not know is a profound experience.  You can also get used to the process by simply watching other constellations, or serving as a representative in someone else's family system. 
  • Be aware that serving as a representative in other people's constellations, in addition to helping them, also helps to open up and heal your own family system.  You will find yourself very often representing someone who is a lot like a major person in your own system.  It just seems to happen that way.  This can be a significant factor, and one that is not present in one on one constellations.
  • As the focus of a constellation in a workshop, your constellation can be more intense--precisely because of the participation of, and your reaction to, the human representatives.  On the other hand, it is not private, is usually shorter, and may sometimes not settle in as well as if it was done privately, or over an extended period.
  • Attending workshops can be a less expensiveOn the other hand, you may have to travel and arrange your schedule to attendOr you might attend more than one workshop before you felt ready for the group constellation.  So, sometimes the cost factor evens out.


More Questions in This Area?

Email me at michael@reddyworks.com or call me at 610 469 7588


Wellness Coaching--What and Why 

As a Wellness Coach, What do You Do?

As a Wellness Coach, I help bring together and clarify the picture of who you are, what you care about, how you are doing with food, fun, physical activity, relationships, finances, and meaning in life.  We may also look for hidden loyalties to ancestors.  This allows us to  view diseases, chronic issues, and various treatment alternatives in the light of your personal and trans-personal wholeness.  Together, we are then able to choose (and support you in carrying out) balanced, effective courses of action that resolve your problems.

Though this may seem "old fashioned" in some ways, the scientific justification for my integrated approach is solid and up to date.  We humans are at the top of the chain of complex systems.  You cannot predict the behavior of our intimately connected bodies and minds by simply separating out and studying smaller and smaller pieces in isolation.  You have to put together this picture of the whole person.  It works.  Health care in the US rarely does this (see next question). 

What Structural Problems in US Health Care does Your Wellness Coaching Correct For?

If you are involved with health care providers, my job as a wellness coach is to help you work successfully with them.  Most doctors and alternative practitioners care and want to help.  At the same time, there are real issues.  Wellness Coaching helps you successfully navigate health care in the US that has become too:

  • Impersonal--Doctors, too often, no longer have either much time or much financial incentive to know you personally.  Even many psychiatrists are focused largely on diagnosis and prescription of meds.  Holistic practitioners are often more available, but still pressed for time and intent on their treatment.  Yet our scientific understanding of complex systems (such as we humans are) tells us that knowing the whole person can make a large, positive difference.
  • Mechanical--The prevailing perspective is that your body, emotions, and mind are ultimately a machine.  Retuning, overhauling, or replacing parts of the machine, are all that really matters.  With alternative practitiioners, of course, this is less the case.  Yet the documented effects of attitude and prayer on recovery, Near Death Experiences, really careful studies of "psychic" pets, and the like all point to the fact that his mechanical view is incomplete.
  • Over-Specialized--Mainstream providers, and some alternative practitioners as well, are trained to study, understand, and treat smaller and smaller parts of the whole that is you.  The bodyworker using myofascial release to try to reduce numbness doesn't talk to the neurologist; the neurologist doesn't know or perhaps even care about the bodyworker.  Knowledgeable generalists and synthesizers are obviously needed to put the pieces back together.
  • Liability-Driven--Far too many doctors are forced to prescribe extra testing and treatment in an effort to proect themselves from excessive legal actions.  This means that what you undergo as a patient may not even represent the doctor's best wisdom about your situation.  Yet these tests and treatments may themselves be strenuous, cost you money, and have side effects--all of which can negatively impact your overall wellness.
  • Drug-centered--the pervasive efforts of large pharmaceutical corporations to profit from drug sales have created an over-reliance on expensive medications.  More and more, mainstream providers have become purveyors and managers of elaborate, self-perpetuating regimes of supplements and prescription drugs.  Yet these regimes, while necessary at times, very often cause problems with other parts of the body or mind--especially when over-prescribed.  (See Earl Mindell, Prescription Drug Alternatives, for an eye-opening look at this.)
  • Insurance-Limited--Quite apart from whether or not you can afford insurance, decisions about your tests and treatments are at times being made by some distant functionary.  This person or department's job is to guard the profitability of a corporation, not determine what's best in your particular case.  Obviously, this may or may not work out well for you.

Do most doctors mean well and want to help?  Of course.  But these are structural problems not easily avoided if one is to work within the system.  Are there important exceptions?  Yes, more and more.  Dr. Andrew Weil's work in arguing for "integrative medicine" is one outstanding example.  (See his book Why Our Health Matters--A Vision of Medicine that Can Transform out Future, for instance). Once again, if you are involved with health care providers, my job as a wellness coach is to help you work successfully with them.

Do You work with doctors and alternative practitioners?

Yes... a great deal of the time.   In my experience (both personal and professional), people respond best to the right mix of approaches.  It's in the nature of the integrated appraoch that I take to create positive movement on two or three fronts at once.  The best healing, you might say, is "multimodal."  It brings several perspectives into play, and looks for the right mix of activities and treatments.

What does "Sidelining" a chronic condition mean?

Sidelining a chronic condition means evolving happy, fulfilling attitudes and activities that bypass the condition.  By reshaping and strengthening these, the focus is shifted to what works.  As this change takes place, treatments that failed before often begin to work.  Either the condition goes away, or, in any case, it no longer stands in the way of a meaningful and joyous life.

Is Wellness Coaching limited only to physical conditions?

Not at all.  Wellness is intimatedly connected to relationships, career, and one's form of spirituality.  This form of coaching relieves difficult-to-solve problems in all of these areas. See alsothe question above--"What kinds of problems do Family Constellations help solve?"

What Are Some of Your Qualifications as a Wellness Coach?

Over the last four decades, I have accumulated extensive experience (personal and professional) with both mainstream and alternative healing modalities.  I've overcome in my life a number of serious pschological and physical challenges, and find genuine fulfillment in helping others to do the same.  What I am most expert in is understanding and synthesizing methods and results from many different disciplines.  This talent and my broad experience lend themselves perfectly to holistic wellness coaching.  Doing this well with people is a great passion for me.

So, above and beyond my training and certification as a professional coach, here are are some of the experiences I bring to this work.

  • Mainstream Medical Research--while getting my Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, I was employed is a research technician in Diagostic Radiology at Argonne Cancer Research Hospital.  I am co-author on four publications in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.  During this time, I worked closely with doctors and hospital staff, and became very familier with both the wonders and the drawbacks of allopathic medicine.
  • Shamanic Healing--I was trained by Native American and mixed blood shamans in the spiritual and ritual-based techniques used by indigenous peoples to cure individuals and families.  Over twenty years of practice and teaching, I was instrumental in helping many people restore lost healthA number of these cases involved what mainstream medicine calls "spontaneous remissions"--that is cures for which it has no current explanation.
  • Therapies and Transformational Trainings--in my own quest to get well, I have experienced
    • such psychological modalities as Freudian, Gestalt, Bio-energetics, and Neuro Linguistic Programming
    • treatment from a homeopathic MD who also specialized in allergic reactions
    • bodywork in the form of Rolfing, Myofascial Release, Cranial Sacral, Acupuncture, Network Chiropractic, and Reflexology
    • and transformational trainings such as The Silva Life System, EST (now Landmark), Let Go and Live, and the iPEC Curriculum leading to my certification as a professional coach (which included many of the findings and techniques of Martin Seligman's Positive Psychology).
  • Diseases Overcome--I have cured or sidelined in my own body such conditions as arthritis, damaged joints, IBS, sensory neuropathies, carpal tunnel syndrome, and PTSD. 
  • Diet and Nutrition--I have experimented with and found what works for me among diets like high protein, food combining, macrobiotic, and whole foods, along with other regimes including fasting and colon cleansing.  I am familiar with the use of many different supplements and work closely with the owner of the Lionville Natural Pharmacy.  [The best overall approach to diet and nutrition I have found is in the books of Marc David (Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet) and Charles Eisenstein (The Yoga of Eating).]
  • Exercise, Meditation, and Craft Work--now in my sixties, I continue with a regular routine of yoga, areobics, and strength training.  I remain an active walker, sailor, and still windsurf at times.  I have practiced simple forms of meditation since my twenties.  I maintain a woodworking shop and enjoy experiences of pure "flow" in it as often as possible.
  • The "Power, or "Alphabet" Therapies--I am familiar with and can help evalute the application of newer approaches to the relief of psychological trauma.  Chief among these are:  EMDR, EFT, TFT, TIR, and VK/D.  These appear to be quite good in some cases, but not necessarily in others.

How Does Coaching Work in General?

Acting as your coach, I

Have only one agenda--to see you thrive in life, emotional and physical health, and career
Always listen, validate, and support your reality, your experience
Believe strongly in you—that the best answers will come from within
Help clarify what you really want using professional techniques
Brainstorm with you to design solutions, and think outside of your box
Use professional planning skills to lay out balanced, achievable goals
Hold you accountable to take the steps you say you will
Help you bypass blocks with professional tools if they stand in the way

Essentially, through coaching, I help you go from merely functional to optimal--in whatever situation you find yourself.  Because I also do Family Constellation work as needed, and have had considerable experience, I can go deeper than most coaches in helping you through what is blocking your health and fulfillment. 

Can Wellness Coaching Help Me Save Money?

Yes, absolutely.  My coaching is inexpensive compared to many tests, treatments, and medications.  Some might be needed soon, while others can be put off a while as our other approaches take effect.  Knowledgeable, professional, integrated help with managing your health and wellness dollars most often saves money. 

More Questions in This Area?

Email me at michael@reddyworks.com or call me at 610 469 7588


See also "Resolving Chronic Disease" and Testimonials


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