Healing Transgenerational Trauma

Transgenerational trauma, also known as generational trauma, is a complex phenomenon that can have a profound impact on individuals and families. It refers to the emotional and psychological effects of traumatic experiences that are passed down from one generation to the next, shaping the way individuals perceive and respond to the world around them.

As mental health professionals, it is crucial for us to understand the mechanisms of transgenerational trauma and the ways in which it can manifest in our clients’ lives. By recognizing the patterns of inherited trauma and unpacking the underlying causes, we can help individuals break free from destructive cycles and pave the way for healing and growth.

Individuals who have experienced transgenerational trauma may find themselves trapped in repeating patterns that mirror those of their ancestors, despite their best efforts to move forward. This can create a sense of helplessness and a fear that their children will also be burdened by the pain and suffering of the past.

Transgenerational trauma can have a significant impact on children and teens, affecting their development, behavior, and emotional well-being. Some common symptoms of transgenerational trauma in children and teens include:

  1. Behavioral issues: Children and teens may exhibit challenging behaviors such as aggression, defiance, acting out, or withdrawal as a way to cope with the effects of inherited trauma.
  2. Emotional dysregulation: Children and teens may struggle to regulate their emotions, experiencing mood swings, heightened anxiety, depression, or feelings of overwhelm in response to triggers related to transgenerational trauma.
  3. Difficulty forming attachments: Children and teens affected by transgenerational trauma may have challenges in forming secure attachments with caregivers or peers, leading to difficulties in forming trusting relationships.
  4. Academic struggles: Transgenerational trauma can impact children and teens’ ability to focus, concentrate, and perform academically, resulting in challenges at school or difficulties in learning.
  5. Physical symptoms: Children and teens may experience physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, sleep disturbances, or other psychosomatic complaints that are linked to the stress and emotional distress of transgenerational trauma.
  6. Heightened stress response: Children and teens may exhibit a heightened stress response, reacting strongly to perceived threats or triggers related to the trauma experienced by their ancestors.
  7. Self-esteem issues: Transgenerational trauma can impact children’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth, leading to feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, or a negative self-image.
  8. Avoidance behaviors: Children and teens may engage in avoidance behaviors to cope with feelings of distress or discomfort related to transgenerational trauma, such as avoiding certain topics, situations, or memories.
  9. Difficulty regulating impulses: Children and teens may struggle with impulse control, engaging in risky behaviors, substance use, or self-harming behaviors as a way to cope with the effects of inherited trauma.


It is essential for caregivers, educators, and mental health professionals to be aware of the symptoms of transgenerational trauma in children and teens and to provide appropriate support, intervention, and therapy to help them heal and build resilience. Early intervention and trauma-informed care can make a significant difference in the well-being and long-term outcomes of children and teens affected by transgenerational trauma.

In the journey to break the cycle of transgenerational trauma, individuals must first focus on their own healing and personal growth. Through therapy modalities like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing) Therapy, the entire family can confront maladaptive belief systems, reshape their self-worth, and begin to unravel the legacy of trauma that has been passed down through generations.

Parents who recognize these patterns within their families play a critical role in breaking the cycle of trauma for future generations. By addressing their own unresolved issues, modeling healthy behaviors, and fostering open communication with their children, parents can empower their families to create a new legacy of strength and resilience.

The journey to healing transgenerational trauma begins with self-awareness and a willingness to challenge ingrained belief systems. As mental health professionals, we have the opportunity to guide individuals towards a path of healing, empowerment, and resilience. Remember, the power to break the cycle of transgenerational trauma lies within each of us.


At Campbell Teen & Family Therapy, we treat the entire family, not just the teens! If you worry that transgenerational trauma has affected you as a parent and your kids, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our collaborative team of therapists allows us to offer therapy to the entire family.  Parents are in a unique position to help their children heal and any work they do to help themselves will allow them to better support their teens. At CTFT we collaborate with other therapists alternating individual talk therapy with their current therapist and EMDR therapy with an EMDR trained therapist. After all, growth and progress is a group effort!