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. 

Need help finding the right therapist?
Find Your Match

Meet the specialists


As a 1st generation child of immigrant parents, I have lived experience and a special understanding of the nuance details of acculturative stress and how intergenerational trauma impacts our wellbeing, identify development, and coping habits. In our work, we uncover the patterns that we ultimately find ourselves in, we explore how to interrupt those patterns, and develop a healthier way to meet your needs.

— Natalie Chavez Gonzalez, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Bernardino, CA

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

Exploring one's family of origin often offers people a deeper answer to the question of "Who am I?

— CoTenacious Therapy, Therapist in Ellicott City, MD

My foundational training in AEDP, EMDR, and polyvagal theory has been instrumental in shaping my therapeutic ethos. I believe we all have an innate capacity for healing, yet the aloneness experienced in the face of othering and a lack of psychological safety represses our ability to do so. As a clinician, I strive to work with clients to enhance their understanding of safety versus danger in all facets of their lives.

— Monesha Chari, Psychotherapist in New York, NY

Dr. Shelby specializes in the treatment of religious and relational trauma.

— Dr. Shelby Reep, Clinical Psychologist in Portland, OR

Most of my clients are doing the emotional and psychological work of their parents, grandparents and beyond. In other words, our healing what the healing our lineage has needed. Families pass down the good and the bad. I compare this to physical belongings, like heirlooms or unopened boxes. When the "boxes" contain habits, patterns or traits that have caused harm to or are no longer serving my clients, I support them to sort that stuff out in exchange for what heals, helps and brings happiness

— TESSA SINCLAIR, Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

'Garen' is the name of the indigenous homeland of my paternal ancestors on the Armenian Highlands, occupied by Turkey. I am the grandson of genocide survivors, and son of refugees fleeing the brutality & terror of U.S. colonialism. My research focuses on intergenerational resilience and the importance of ancestral grief work.

— Garen Karnikian, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist

Systems theory demonstrates that none of us are separate from the family, social or global environments we grow up in. If we want to feel better now, we do well to explore all of the systems that have impacted us. As a psychodynamic social worker, I do not see people as separate from any of their intersecting identities or relationships. It's crucial that you have a place where all of the things and people that have influenced you, for good and ill, can be brought into the light of day.

— Tracy Bryce Farmer, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Portland, OR

This didn't start with you. You were born into a family and a system that wasn't able to meet your needs, but there is hope for healing and a meaningful life. You'll need help to disentangle from the painful beliefs you've developed about yourself and the world and support to let some of your protective defenses stand back so you can make choices that resonate with your values. This can be a long road of discovery, but it is so worth the work.

— Dana Nassau, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

Chances are it didn’t start with you! We each carry within our psyches and our DNA the imprint of generations of life experience. Clients often come to find that the issues they came in with turn out to be inherited from the legacies of those who came before them (“blood” ancestors and otherwise). Whether we explicitly work with your ancestors or not, I believe that the growth you are called to do provides growth for generations of ancestors, forwards and back in your lineages.

— Ellie Lotan, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Berkeley, CA

That weight on your shoulder will go away. We will talk about some new ways to think and look at this painful story. We will give you skills to manage your thoughts and feelings. You will build confidence as this process unfolds. And then one day you will be on the other side of this life experience. You will be able to talk about it with out crying. You will feel strong again. Your dreams will stop. You can then exhale and feel calm again. You can look forward without these painful experiences

— Julie Williams, Counselor in Royersford, PA

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

Historical trauma or complex trauma (C-PTSD) often goes back several generations. Family patterns that have emerged from large systemic trauma or smaller family system trauma will often emerge with the pain and suffering that has existed long before you were born. Responding with care to individuals and communities experiencing past and present traumatic stress means healing the parts that have adapted to the suffering and uncovering a renewed sense of compassion and courage.

— Sarah Wagner, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Alameda, CA

As a psychotherapist, I specialize in addressing Historical/Intergenerational Trauma. My approach involves understanding deep-rooted emotional patterns and their impact across generations. I help clients unpack complex family histories, heal past wounds, and break cycles of trauma. Through empathy and evidence-based practices, I guide individuals towards awareness, healing, and resilience, fostering a path to a more empowered and liberated future.

— Justine Moore, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Houston, TX

Trauma can derive from obvious, horrific events, as well as from universal ones such as having been raised by a critical parent. In other words, what determines trauma is its impact, not the event(s) itself. Upsetting experiences - even forgotten ones - can get lodged in our nervous systems and stimulated in subsequent, parallel circumstances. Trauma treatment, including EMDR, can help clients adaptively process past experiences to prevent them from getting re-triggered in the present.

— Happy Apple Center for Anxiety, Depression, & Couples, Psychotherapist in New York, NY

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

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