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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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

During her time at Teachers College, Columbia University Talia studied Bilingual Latinx Counseling. The program placed a huge emphasis on understanding and conceptualizing client's presenting concerns through the historical/ intergenerational trauma that might have triggered and/or exacerbated it.

— Talia Akerman, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in New York, NY

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

trauma is not the event—trauma is the stuck response held by our bodies. trauma changes us at a cellular level, changed our blood relatives and ancestors at a cellular level, and so many of us inherit the pain our forebearers could not metabolize. this is where my somatic experience comes into play. through somatic therapies, we practice tapping into the organic "technology" of our bodies, which are inherently designed for resilience & growth.

— summer koo, Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate

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

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

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 ,

As a second-generation Asian-American, I understand the relationship between symptoms of depression/anxiety and intergenerational trauma. The patterns and cycles passed down from generation to generation contribute to our mental health - either negatively or positively, and we have the power to stop or continue the cycle. We can begin living an empowered life.

— Jessica Cruz, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in San Diego, CA

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

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

I have extensive training and experience in working with historic, intergenerational, and complex trauma through my time providing mental health services for NARA, NW and Wolf Pack Consulting and Therapeutic Services. As a relationship therapist, I understand how impactful historical/intergenterational trauma can be on a relationship system and focus much of the work on helping the couple/family identify this trauma and create strategies to minimize it's impact.

— Alexa Adams, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Portland, OR

Oftentimes, traumatic experiences are transmitted across generations, usually through unconscious processes that parents and children are not even fully aware of. Outside of their awareness, trauma exerts its implacable toll as it lives on in subsequent generations of a family. Therapy can help people gain an awareness and understanding of the trauma and its manifestations, and to free themselves from some of the destructive effects of intergenerational trauma.

— Tetyana Irvin, Psychotherapist in , NY

It may feel impossible now, but you can be the change and heal generations of trauma. You can bring peace to yourself and those around you. You can be true to who you are and not feel ashamed. And I can help you get there. I’ll help through this process, tailoring each step to your unique needs and circumstances. You deserve healing, and your family, ancestors, and generations to come do too.

— Stephanie Pappas, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Irvine, CA

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

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