Historical/ Intergenerational Trauma

Historical trauma, or intergenerational trauma, refers to the cumulative emotional and psychological wounding of a person or generation caused by traumatic experiences or events. Historical trauma can be experienced by any group of people that experience a trauma. Examples include genocide, enslavement, or ethnic cleansing. It can affect many generations of a family or an entire community. Historical trauma can lead to substance abuse, depression, anxiety, anger, violence, suicide, and alcoholism within the afflicted communities. If you are feeling the effects of historical or intergenerational trauma, reach out to one of TherapyDen’s experts today. 

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Symptoms of historical trauma include denial, depersonalization, isolation, memory loss, nightmares, psychic numbing, hypervigilance, substance abuse, identification with death, and unresolved grief.

— Jon Soileau, Licensed Professional Counselor in Kansas City, MO

Trauma may impact your day to day life. Some examples of trauma are: childhood or past trauma, sexual abuse, domestic violence, neglect, discrimination/oppression, and grief/loss.

— Kelly Reyes, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

I have utilized CBT, DBT and Trauma Focused CBT approach in working with patients experiencing trauma. My family ancestry was shaped by WWII and the Holocaust. Being personally aware of the negative impact of intergenerational cycle of global trauma, has provided me with a unique insight into such trauma and its devastating effects.

— Sandra Nunez, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in , CA

I am an EMDRIA-certified EMDR clinician, and incorporate EMDR techniques in all of my work even if we do not engage in EMDR as a practice. My experience is in working with chronic and intergeneration trauma, and I offer EMDR intensives to combat the recycled problems in your life and in your family systems.

— Cameron Cready-Pyle, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Bryn Mawr, PA

Trauma physically changes our brains. Trauma-Focused therapy is a specific approach that identifies and takes into consideration how the traumatic experience effects an individual’s mental, behavioral, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. I’m a certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is a therapeutic approach that is interactive and designed to alleviate psychological stress associated with traumatic memories. It’s an effective way to treat trauma.

— TaMara Gray-Phillips, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Chester Springs, PA

Even before I became a therapist, my personal family recovery taught me the power of intervening on cycles of abuse/neglect and misinformation. Brainspotting and Internal Family Systems therapy are powerful healing modalities to address childhood trauma, even if it goes back many generations.

— Christine Bates, Licensed Professional Counselor in Oxford, MS

Intergenerational trauma feels like a big, scary term, I know. It basically defines the experiences that have traveled through your family like a pattern, or the issues that might have gone unresolved and affected everyone in your family, through the generations. I approach trauma work with special attention to attachment, somatic work and dual awareness. We can walk through the past while staying firmly rooted in the present and planning for how you want the future to look.

— Hailey Hughes, Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in Austin, TX

I am systemically trained, and I often work with adult clients who experienced child abuse, divorce, family conflict, cutoffs/estrangement, etc. I am experienced with exploring how intergenerational patterns are impacting my clients in the present. I use ACEs to screen for childhood trauma.

— Easin Beck, Marriage & Family Therapist in Phoenixville, PA

I'm Irish-American, and over time I came to realize that the abuse in my family of origin was linked to the colonization of Ireland. Living in the U.S., I can see similar (and sometimes different) patterns among indigenous people impacted by colonization here. I have also heard from African-Americans about the historical traumatic impact of slavery on people descended from slaves. These issues are real, and I support those working toward healing and liberation.

— Caera Gramore, Mental Health Practitioner in Arlington, WA

When I am working with Black, Indigenous and other People of Color with a history of trauma and oppression, it is important, to me, to address the historical context of the family through trace and culture. I explore the harm and trauma from a historical lens to understand the family dynamics. The abuse of our ancestors and their pain is within our bodies, our minds and our spirits. We can explore this together, if you are willing.

— Chioko Grevious, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Sacramento, CA

Some of my clients have a family legacy of trauma, and are on a healing path to protect their children and future generations. Others have single-event or complex trauma that wreaks havoc in their lives. Trauma is stored in the brain-body and cannot truly heal through talk therapy or Hakomi. Methods like EMDR, SE, and Lifespan Integration (LI) are needed. I am LI- and EMDR-trained, and have helped clients finally leave traumatic events behind.

— Greta Reitinger, Psychotherapist in Portland, OR

Years of grappling with trauma has shown me something beautiful. Yes, we inherit post-traumatic stress. But we inherit post-traumatic growth too! We can rewire the ways our wise adaptive minds read information. Soothe the fear. Reeducate the vigilance. Keep potential trauma from becoming embedded. Trauma comes to our bodies through relationship, but healing does too. When we reshape how we safely show up in world, we heal & reveal our full Selves & pave the way for healthy whole-hearted children

— Sarah Kendrick, Mental Health Counselor in Portland, OR

Trauma is what happens to us that overwhelms our ability to cope for an extended period of time. Trauma is different and personal to each individual. I believe in the resilience of the human spirit, and that we are not the things that happen to us. I begin where the client is, focusing at first on building the skills needed to begin to thrive. When my clients are ready we focus on processing the trauma identified.

— Irene Nessium, Mental Health Counselor in Brooklyn, NY

Inner child work may help with those experiencing intergenerational trauma. Inner child work helps explore unprocessed childhood emotions and feelings that currently impact one’s life and understanding, managing, and/or reducing triggers. One desire for inner child work may be to identify wounded areas and/or unmet needs of the child, learn to advocate, protect, or show compassion for the child, create a safe enough space to invite the child to play, and integrate the child with the adult self.

— Shavonne James, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Long Beach, CA

As a Certified EMDR Therapist, I support individuals who have experienced various types of traumatic events and who are dealing with strong and distressing memories that have an impact on their lives.

— Greg Bodin, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

In my work with racial trauma, I have seen firsthand how the trauma of parents are passed down to the children. Often, the mental illness or behavioral patterns of adults were formed when they were being raised in their homes of origin. Parents with mental illnesses are often demonized for lacking the tools that they were never given. I would like to help parents re-parent themselves; therefore stopping the cycle of trauma.

— Brittney George, Licensed Professional Counselor in , VA

I have many years working with adult protective and child services. These clients suffered from abuse, and inter-generational trauma which impacted every area of their lives. I will use therapeutic techniques to address childhood trauma.

— Becca Foshee, Clinical Social Worker in Springfield, MO