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

Pain/Trauma that is not transformed is transmitted. - Richard Rohr. I help people understand how the past (personal experiences and the experiences of generations past) directly impacts our present. Many of our worldviews, beliefs, and behaviors were developed to help us survive our upbringings or are "just how I am." I help people explore their worldviews, beliefs, and behaviors to see what is actually theirs and what is actually being carried - and needs to be given back.

— La Shanda Sugg, Licensed Professional Counselor in Mason, OH

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

There is significant research and findings about how the impact of historical and intergenerational trauma has, not only impacted our relationship with family members, but also how it can impact an individual on the cellular level. As a third generation Filipina American, I am keenly aware of how colonization has impacted Filipinx Americans. As a scholar-practitioner-activist, I work with individuals to heal from these trauma wounds, and develop healthier relationships with oneself and others.

— Jean-Arellia Tolentino, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Fellow in Walnut Creek, 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

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

The things that happen to us are written upon our bodies. Trauma is stored in the physical substance of our brains, and is played out again and again in the actions of our nervous system. Body issues and trauma are intimately connected and cannot be adequately treated in isolation from each other. The good news is that our bodies are very wise, and work hard to protect us. Fostering a trusting relationship with our bodies promotes healing and self discovery.

— Val Jones, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Mount Vernon, WA

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

I help immigrants, refugees, as well as first-generation-born Americans uncover, understand, and overcome their own personal and ancestral history, such that it can be transformed.

— Ariane Eroy, Ph. D., Psychologist in San Francisco, CA

Trauma experienced during the formative years of childhood and adolescence structures our self-concept in ways that are limiting to our fullest expression and capacity to thrive. I work with a high-level of attunement and compassion to support my client's trauma in a way that promotes titration, slowness, safety, and resiliency.

— Jessica Barnese, 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 Chandler, AZ

I have experience working with childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse. I have worked with both survivors and their family members coming to terms with the trauma and learning to have power and joy in their life. I also work with many couples where there is a history of abuse in their family of origin and how to move forward to connect in a healthy relationship with their life partner/s.

— Kari Weiler, Marriage & Family Therapist in Fort Collins, CO

Most people think about trauma as a war or a near death experience, but in therapy we know that trauma is present when we see some specific symptoms that are usually results of an embodied, neuro-biological experience from a time where our brains and bodies were overwhelmed. In those moments it can seem like we don’t have access to the more philosophical and emotionally intelligent parts of ourselves.

— Sydney Rose, Therapist in New York, NY

Trauma, whether from deliberate acts of violence, or a lifetime of living "on the defensive" due to an unsafe or invalidating environment, can have lifelong negative effects on mental, emotional, physical, and sexual functioning. Being “on guard” and never feeling safe can result in health and sleep issues and negative behaviors like substance abuse and self-injury. Even in the midst of injustice and turmoil, trauma can be addressed and peace can be found. Let's work together to find safety and

— Lina Lewis-Arevalo, Licensed Professional Counselor in , NJ

Developmental trauma, complex trauma, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, toxic relationships, codependency

— Olivia Stadler, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Pacific Grove, CA

Much of the work I do with clients centers around "carried over" trauma and "limiting beliefs". We talk a lot of breaking cycles and saying "it ends with me", while also honoring their ancestors and elders struggles and triumphs. I believe that just as there is "intergenerational trauma" there is also "intergenerational wisdom".

— Leah Constantz, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Somerville, MA

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

Breaking the cycle of abuse and trauma is vital to our healing journey. We often carry the burden of trauma that has impacted our parents, grandparents, and ancestors. In my work, I acknowledge this burden that may exist in some of our lives. Through my services, I am committed to not only offer a variety of techniques to manage the impact, but also a safe space to acknowledge and process feelings that comes with such trauma.

— Jeanette Lopez-Urbina, Clinical Social Worker in Berkeley, CA

The experience of abuse, rejection, persecution, and serious illness negatively impact one’s sense of self, of others and of humanity. Through the careful exploration of feelings and memories, a person can learn to integrate painful experiences while developing compassion and forgiveness. Learning to live with a painful past can allow someone to hope and trust again.

— Sandra Amador Mora, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Emeryville, CA

I have particular interest in complex trauma, which can include traumas that took place in a client's family and have been passed down through generations. My knowledge of attachment theory, relational-psychodynamic therapy, Narrative Trauma Therapy, and Lifespan Integration equip me well for what can sometimes (though not always) be a "murkier" form of trauma that might feel harder to pinpoint.

— Carolyn Peterson, Counselor in WOODINVILLE, WA

Sexual trauma can really shake us to our core. Living in a sexist world after a trauma can be overwhelming as a woman. Toxic masculinity is prevalent in both work and home life – creating complex triggers in unlikely places. As our awareness of these intersections between trauma and sexism increase, we may feel up in arms, ready to start a revolution! But we need to take exquisite care of ourselves first or else we are left feeling overwhelmed, drained and hopeless. After a sexual trauma we often wonder – can we ever feel beautiful, sexual, and/or feminine again and still feel safe? Can we trust others – or even ourselves – again? The answer is a resounding yes. Through a multi-modal approach that infuses relational, experiential and body-oriented approaches I help clients overcome trauma, create healthy boundaries, increase resilience, reclaim their sense of self and create the lives they wish to lead.

— Natalia Amari, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Austin, TX

It can be hard to keep the past in the past. If you have been through difficult experiences you may have noticed that it still impacts you in ways today - sometimes ways that seem unrelated and sometimes in ways that seem very obvious. EMDR can't erase what happened to you, but it can help "turn the volumne down" on the past. After a successful series of EMDR sessions you will still be able to remember what happened, but it won't be able to control your life anymore.

— Jennifer Roach, Counselor in Everett, WA

With a specialty in identity and intersectionality, I hold space for clients to heal from for individuals to heal from relational, systemic, environmental, and man-made traumas as well as explore, understand, and reconcile identity related experiences.

— Akeera Peterkin, Clinical Social Worker in ,

This is the first population I worked with well before my educational background. It was my own life experience and it helped develop my passion to give back and help those who endured an abusive, alcohol-addicted parent, survived childhood sexual abuse, and a parent who suffered a mental illness that was exacerbated by addiction and abuse.

— Patricia "Tristan" Petty, Licensed Professional Counselor in Madison, TN

I have extensive training in treating trauma including individuals suffering with symptoms of PTSD. I am trained in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy which is a trauma informed practice that integrates the full experience of body and mind into the processing and integration of traumatic experiences and memory. In addition to my training in SPI I have training in EMDR and Hakomi which also support the processing of trauma and allow for integration so experiences from the past don't continue to impact your life in the present.

— Heather Bradley, Psychologist in San Francisco, CA

I have specialized training in dealing with trauma and PTSD. Trauma and PTSD are treatable and you can find freedom from the pain of it. I use somatic resourcing and release strategies as well as a combination of CBT and EMDR. I also use a lot of trauma education so that you build a better understanding of your symptoms because understanding the trauma and PTSD symptoms is part of the healing from it.

— Marna Cathleen, Counselor in Eugene, OR

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

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