Healing Intergenerational Trauma

Posted on October 7, 2016

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“One cannot vibrate higher than their greatest wound.” Kricket

As we finish our series on intergenerational trauma, I want to focus on how we can help clients heal from the impact of pain experienced before their birth. If you are interested in more information on healing intergenerational trauma, please pick up It Didn’t Start with You by Mark Wolynn. Wolynn’s book provides some in-depth interventions that can be used by therapist in their clinical work.

For the purpose of this blog, I want to speak about healing in a more general way. Last week, we looked at using structural family mapping to access trauma. This mapping should bring forth family traumas that might be impacting the client. We can follow up this assessment by providing clients with a little of the science behind intergenerational trauma, giving them a working knowledge about how past pain might be manifesting itself in their present life.

Following up the assessment and research explanation, the helper can ask the client how they think past family/community pain might be impacting them, and if they see any patterns that they might have fallen into themselves. The goal is to provide clients with some insight into their own struggles, which could help build motivation to engage in healing work and mental health services. Knowledge is power, and simply recognizing and giving voice to this pain can be a powerful experience in itself.

In thinking about healing intergenerational trauma, I’m reminded of a discussion I had with a shamanic healer a few years back. This powerful woman explained that traditional shamans saw past trauma and pain as cords reaching back through time and space. These cords could be attached to people and/or events that did us or our ancestors harm. As long as these cords remained attached, the pain would negatively impact our cognitive, social, and spiritual well-being.

The shaman would help the client reach a state where they could connect with this pain (even if they were not normally conscious of it), identify its source, and then work with the client to disconnect from these cords. This disconnection frees the client from the pain associated with pain that transcends time and space. I couldn’t help but be reminded of this conversation when I read Wolynn’s work.

The need to release pain and suffering has always been the work of the healer and client. Whether we are discussing ancient healing methods or modern psychological interventions, the assessment, recognition, and release of past pain is critical to the well-being of the client. As long as past suffering is not identified and released, it will continue to have a negative influence on our lives.

Thank you for taking this journey with me the last several weeks. I hope that this journey has been as enlightening to you as it has been for me. I want to provide space in the comment section for any thoughts or reflections you might have at the end of this series.

4 responses to “Healing Intergenerational Trauma”

  1. Brian Henry says:

    Mr. Bennett – thank you so much for your series of blogs on intergenerational trauma. As a provider, the real world application of having the awareness and understanding of trauma informed care is useful on a daily basis both professionally and personally. The insight you’ve provided is fascinating. Thank you for your good work.

    • Matt Bennett says:

      Thanks so much for the feedback Brian. Once again, science is shedding light on such a critical issue facing people in our community.

  2. Philip J. Malebranche says:

    Often, the pain that’s exacted on us is the work and intention of American extremism, which we may also call white supremacy. This realization allows me, in my own situation, to mentally release, or dispense with, the pain inflicted. I don’t care to carry around the burden of such enemies. I try to drop it, and move on; and carry on with the Struggle; and with a path to joy. As I’ve written elsewhere, Mandela urged leaders to leave hate behind because hate hinders the Struggle. This thought of his I found in the New York Times obituary after his death.

    • Matt Bennett says:

      “Hate hinders the Struggle!” Great example of stepping out of the past and finding your own path. Thanks for continuing to bring these concepts to life my friend!

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