Intergenerational trauma has become a hot topic as people try to explain the poor state of mental health among younger generations
Tip: How to talk to your (skeptical) family about therapy
Helping people deal with generational trauma
- Awareness: Jason Wu, a Bay Area psychologist and son of refugee parents, he said the first step is to build awareness. A patient may have internalized the belief that he is not good enough, but after unpacking it, he can see how his parents, and perhaps even his parents, constant criticism and lack of warmth or praise are the source of this belief.
- Mind-Body Therapy: Somatic or body-based therapies such as yoga have been shown to be effective for trauma. Increasingly, expressive arts therapies that employ movement, music, or the visual arts are being used to help patients find more adaptive ways to cope, said Ccile Rve, co-founder of ARTrelief, a center that provides these arts-based therapies.
- Rewording: Foo said it was important to reframe the damaging stories she was told as a child. My mother’s voice said, “You’re worthless, you’re not lovable, you’re stupid,” she said. I think the essence of healing has been an effort to rewrite that narrative into something more loving and forgiving and kind.
- Break the cycle: Studies suggest that even children who haven’t experienced parenting can overcome this history if, as adults, they consciously adopt positive parenting strategies with their children.
- Activism: Directly addressing sources of trauma, such as gun violence or racism, through activism and advocacy are also powerful tools for overcoming its grip, said Bryant, president of the APA.
- Tell me about it: How trauma is discussed in families can also be important. Is it never discussed and then labeled unspeakable? Or is it a part of the family history owned and claimed by each family member? asked Arielle Scoglio, an assistant professor of health studies at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. The second response dispels trauma-related shame and integrates it into a flexible narrative.
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