Intergenerational trauma refers to trauma passed from one generation to the next. It is difficult to detect this kind of trauma since its symptoms are similar to those of normal trauma. Therefore, it is up to the counsellor to evaluate the client's past to determine if he or she suffers from intergenerational trauma. Below are a few facts about intergenerational trauma.
What Triggers Intergenerational Trauma?
When it comes down to the family level, it can happen due to several factors. It can be unresolved human needs from the past generation, such as emotional and physical security, poor guardian-child relationships and even destructive repeated patterns during upbringing.
Additionally, it can happen at a community level through historical trauma. It is evidence from cases where the whole community was affected. For example, the impacts of the Holocaust or Nazi genocide are felt due to the nature of atrocities committed. Relatives to the victims of these incidents may still suffer genocide-related trauma.
How is Intergenerational Trauma Transmitted?
The trauma can be passed from one generation to the next through oral tradition. Stories of the suffering of your ancestors or community members may cause subsequent generations to suffer from the trauma.
It can also be indirectly transmitted from parent to child. For example, a parent that survived a plane crash may provide his or her child with a biased world view. For instance, he or she may discourage the child from boarding a plane since they might die or be in a plane crash. In so doing, the parent passes trauma to the child.
Can It Be Treated?
Just like other types of trauma, intergenerational trauma can be alleviated through counselling sessions. However, you may have to undergo counselling for longer to ensure you come to terms with what happened. The counsellor will educate you about the intergenerational trauma, why you suffer from it and how to cope with its effects and live the best version of yourself.
Opening up about it to a professional therapist will be beneficial as you will realise that the power of ending the intergenerational trauma lies within you. The way around it is by acknowledging what happened was beyond your capability.
Other Coping Mechanisms
Talking about the trauma in social circles, interacting with people with similar experiences and empowering those affected by it can help lessen the burden. Such actions open up the community to the fact that action needs to be taken to protect future generations from the trauma.
You learn the art of survival. You are never a victim, but a survivor who paves a path in putting an end to the intergenerational trauma.