Home 9 Health & Wellness 9 Intergenerational Trauma
Health & Wellness

Intergenerational Trauma

What Is Intergenerational Trauma?

Intergenerational trauma is trauma that is passed down from those who directly experience an incident to subsequent generations.

Intergenerational trauma impacts you genetically and environmentally (the world around you like family, school, community).

How this might have impacted you 

  • low self-esteem
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • anger
  • self-destructive behaviours

What can you do to heal?

Here are five ways to begin carving your way out of deep-rooted generational trauma as a healing path.

You are encouraged to seek professional counselling to support your healing journey. Trauma work can take a long time but is an important step in your healing journey.

1. Finding the Source of Your Trauma

Unpacking generational trauma might require a little bit of digging. Uncovering the ingrained behaviours, beliefs, and patterns that exist within you and your family allows you to be more conscious of your current tendencies. This level of awareness will encourage you to think, believe and act differently than what you were once taught.

2. Acknowledging and Accepting your Trauma

Claiming your lineage’s trauma requires resilience and accepting that you’ve been carrying your ancestor’s wounds. Learning more about your family history can make it easier to acknowledge the impact that trauma had on your ancestors and, and how that trauma was passed down to you. 

3. Allowing your Relationships to Change

Oftentimes, generational trauma is associated with family members that are unknowingly feeding into the cycle, for example through emotional blackmail or possessiveness.

Setting boundaries and changing the way you interact with them has the potential to benefit both you and your relationship with them. 

Once you give yourself permission to set healthy boundaries, you might notice discomfort or criticism from the people you are setting boundaries with. Remember their reaction is tied to their trauma experience. 

4. Practicing Self Care

This could look like smudging, journaling, breathwork, sports, making art, and gratitude walks.

Investing in downtime for yourself will ensure you stay healthy and strong to deal with what might happen in the future. 

5. Allowing Yourself to Grieve

When peeling back the layers of trauma, you’ll find yourself ‘grieving the gap’ between what you received and what you needed.

Acknowledging this gap can evoke some of the bad feelings or memories you’ve been subconsciously suppressing.

Feeling through what comes your way is essential to moving forward from them because when we grieve, we feel, and when we feel, we heal.

Seeking Support

You don’t have to face your trauma all alone. Finding a culturally responsive therapist who knows about the culture you come from will allow you to reserve your time and energy for working with the tools and techniques your therapist provides you with, rather than requiring you to spend therapy time educating about your culture. That kind of therapeutic focus can help you break the trauma cycle – once and for all.

Looking for Help?

Kristin Millar

Kristin Millar

Mental Health Clinician

Can Help With: No cost, accessible low barrier mental health counselling to to assist with mental health and wellness, attachment, and life transitions. I can be flexible with when...

533 Broadway
Read Bio
Kristin Millar

Kristin Millar


Mental Health Clinician

Can Help With: No cost, accessible low barrier mental health counselling to to assist with mental health and wellness, attachment, and life transitions. I can be flexible with when/where sessions occur to best meet participant's need. I can also help with group sessions and life skills workshops. 

Favourite Quote: " Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny." CS Lewis

Post Secondary Pathway: Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Sociology, Bachelor of Social work, and currently completing a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy

3 Fun Facts: 

1) I’ve been hit by lightning.
2) I lived as a cyborg without a pulse for almost 2 years (unrelated to point #1).
3) I will defend pistachio as the best ice cream flavour to the end of time.