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. 

Meet the specialists

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

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

Exploring the co-creation of forms of therapeutic forms of care for wounds associated with complex, intergenerational, race- and oppression-based trauma using a somatic trauma-based modality called Indigenous Focusing-Oriented Therapy (IFOT) and other tools.

— Lissa Edmond, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner in Brooklyn, NY

Patterns of low-self-esteem, body-image issues, depression, anxiety, boundary-issues are all passed down between generations, often without people meaning to or even being aware that they are passing down their pain. I use Clinical Art Therapy, EMDR, and Developmental Needs-Meeting Strategy to help my clients to heal and break the cycle.

— Rachel Del Dosso, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Camarillo, CA

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 Royal Oak, MI

I approach all clients from a trauma-informed lens and have training and experience in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). I have witnessed both personally and professionally that families can end patterns of intergenerational trauma, and my life's purpose is to support others toward this goal. We can heal the world one family at a time.

— Kelsey Crabtree, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Black Mountain, NC

Individuals have found our therapy to have helped them come to terms with the experience of international migration as trauma. In developing a sense of belonging, they felt more at home, increased their confidence, became more creative, and improved their relationship with Self and others.

— Intercultural Psychology Dr. Nadia Thalji and Dr. Diane Deutsch, Counselor in San Francisco, CA

My three points of expertise: family therapy, trauma treatment and creative arts therapy make me uniquely able to uncover, understand and treat intergenerational and historical trauma. Because trauma is often encoded in imagery and felt body sensations more than words, the creative arts therapies are able to access and transform trauma memories into artworks that can be spoken of and reflected upon. While family therapy requires a long view that spans generations and welcomes complexity.

— Kelley Linhardt, Creative Art Therapist in New York, NY

The culture you were born into has a deep impact on who you are and how you interact with the world. These inherited views, values, and understanding of life and relationships can support you, but can also contain harmful patterns from past generations that no longer serve you in the here and now. Through exploring our origin stories we can begin to heal the wounds that have been passed down to us, honoring where we come from while moving forward.

— Al Hoberman, Creative Art Therapist in New York, NY

I specialize in providing support with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and helping people to find healing after experiencing traumas such as sexual, emotional, or physical abuse. People in minority groups may experience an added layer of stress from navigating life within systems that are not supportive. I have worked with many Asian Pacific Islanders, African Americans, and Latinx, as well as immigrants and refugees.

— Cynthia Fong, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Intergenerational trauma represents a nuanced developmental experience deserving of its own clinical attention, and childhood trauma shapes our self-concept, beliefs about others/the world, and subconscious habits of responding to life. Good complex trauma treatment should do a deep dive on each of these factors, and it should offer ways to effectively shift intergenerational trauma trends.

— Dr. Joye Henrie, Psychologist in Albuquerque, NM

As an EMDR practitioner, I am uniquely trained to help conquer past traumas, drastically reducing stress symptoms and leftover emotional pain.

— Delaney Dixon, Counselor in Richardson, TX