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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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

Transforming the Experience-Based Brain (TEB) is a regulation focused model integrating learnings from somatic, attachment, & neurophysiological models. Through hands-on or intentional presence in healing you are able to access pre-verbal & early childhood developmental trauma stored in the body. As a non-pathologizing method of care, this embodied approach is a different way of healing as it targets the nervous system rather than specific symptoms & supports integration of primitive reflexes.

— Morgen Simpson, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Bloomington, MN

Through my work at an LGBTQ-focused community center, I offered therapy to community members, many of whom were dealing with complex trauma and a history of dysfunctional family relationships.

— Leticia Berg, Psychotherapist in Ann Arbor, MI

Over the last several years, I have dedicated myself to understanding and studying historical trauma across the lifespan and how to begin the path of healing. Doing my own work around what being Indigenous and Jewish means to me today, I have come to find that acknowledgement of the past, integrating our intersectional identities to accept the whole of who we are, and addressing systemic injustice are just a few major keys in accessing the resilience that is already within us.

— Cheyenne Bellarosa, Counselor in Aurora, CO

More new information is emerging about the effects of trauma on health & wellbeing. PTSD and CPTSD (complex - PTSD due to years of abuse/neglect) is when we feel hi-jacked by our senses/body connecting us back to past events that were (or seemed) life threatening. These experiences can be from Domestic abuse, events/accidents related to the lifestyle of substance abuse, and from chronic traumatic/neglectful childhood experiences. There is hope for recovery. It is time for you to heal.

— Kathleen Thompson, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

I am an EMDR therapist and have extensive training in treating complex trauma. I worked for several years with children in the foster care system navigating the challenges that trauma presents in daily life.

— Erica Christmas, Licensed Professional Counselor in Gilbert, AZ

Claudia was trained at the Ackerman Institute for the Family with a specialization in family systems theory. Claudia's approach to family therapy begins with a look at intergenerational patterns, and includes her expertise in trauma recovery.

— Claudia Narvaez-Meza, Psychotherapist in Los Angeles, CA

Healing doesn't just begin with us, the ways that we are raised and the trauma our ancestors have been through contribute to how we deal with our present issues and our general mindset. By working through intergenerational trauma, you are able to live a more full life and end the pain and hurt that has been passed down with you.

— Marr Hassan, Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in Tucson, AZ

Trauma-informed care is not a specific or technique-heavy modality. Trauma-informed care recognizes that trauma significantly affects people. As a trauma-informed therapist, I will assess and explore how your experiences may have deeply affected you, and recognize and respond to you in a way that emphasizes safety, collaboration, and empowerment.

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

Genocide, racism, antisemitism, poverty and white supremacy are examples of historical traumas that cause suffering in generations proceeding the initial trauma. Sometimes, the connection is not apparent at face value. I encourage clients to expand their narrative of "what happened to me" to include "what happened to those who came before me." This intergenerational perspective can create space for greater appreciation of how you got here and give you freedom to make alternative choices.

— Stefanie Landau, Psychologist in Arlington, MA

I completed my clinical internship at the Rape Crisis Center, where many of the clients I saw came from backgrounds of intergenerational abuse and trauma. Though the grips of intergenerational abuse and trauma can be strong, I have seen that it is a cycle that can be broken, and it is one of the great privileges of a therapist to be able to be part of a client's journey to break this.

— Tomoko Iimura, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in ,

Did you know that, according to the EMDR Institute, there is biological evidence to suggest that intergenerational trauma is hereditary? The stress that comes from the trauma and adversity of generations before you CAN affect your stress. You are not your ancestors, and their story does not have to be your story. We can't control all the fucked up problems of the world, so let's focus on what is in OUR control. Let's work together to identify what advocacy looks like for you and heal.

— Tracy Vadakumchery, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor in New York, NY

Indigenous practices have been around and utilized for centuries yet, due to cultural stigma, erasure, and genocide, many of these practices have been lost or not deemed acceptable within our Eurocentric mental health profession. The act of reindigenizing mental health is the effort to replace the current systems with culturally specific, culturally sustainable, and culturally appropriate mental health and well-being practices developed and passed on among indigenous people.

— Dr. Erik Escareño, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Historical trauma, its transmission, and its manifestation across multiple generations were both an area of academic concentration and a personal interest, given my background as a child of people who experienced war and genocide. Many of the people I have work with have found that relief, more fulfilling relationships, and aliveness have coincided with an increasing ability to place their present-day problems against a backdrop of wider social and historic forces.

— Vuthy Ou, Clinical Psychologist in Philadelphia, PA

Trauma doesn't come from nowhere. It is tied to family, community, and national history. It is connected to the long and many faceted systemic oppression that causes so much trauma. For me, most trauma is connected to the intergenerational. This is why in my work with clients I connect present experiences of symptoms related to trauma to past relationships, family history, community history, and more.

— Renya NeoNorton, Marriage & Family Therapist