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barbarawoods, PHD

-intergenerational trauma program founder-

"Harnessing the high degree of neuroplasticity during childhood and adolescence is our best opportunity to address and amend the developmental impacts of intergenerational trauma."

Intergenerational trauma, the silent thread woven through generations, affects not just individuals but entire families. It embeds itself in family dynamics, parenting strategies, and personal behaviors, often unnoticed until its effects manifest in the behaviors and development of children and teens. Recognizing and addressing this trauma is crucial for fostering healthy development and breaking the cycle of pain. This blog post delves into the impacts of intergenerational trauma on child and teen development and outlines interventions that can support healing and resilience.

The Impact of Unresolved Trauma

Unresolved trauma from past generations can profoundly affect emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It's influence can be seen in both family dynamics and individual behaviors. Here's how it can be observered in families and individuals:

  • Mental Health Difficulties: Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can stem from this trauma.
  • Dysfunctional Relationships: Patterns of abuse or neglect may repeat across generations.
  • Behavioral Issues: Aggression, fear, and withdrawal can all be responses to underlying trauma.
  • Emotional Shutdown: A disconnection from oneself and others as a coping mechanism.

How Trauma Affects Development

Intergenerational trauma impacts children and teens in various developmental areas:

  • Attachment Issues: Difficulty forming secure relationships.
  • Cognitive Challenges: Impacts on learning and problem-solving.
  • Emotional Dysregulation: Struggles with managing and expressing emotions.
  • Behavioral Problems: From aggression to withdrawal, behaviors are a cry for help.
  • Self-Concept Issues: Poor self-esteem and identity confusion.

Interventions That Make a Difference

To address the intricate layers of intergenerational trauma, interventions need to be multi-faceted, focusing on both healing the trauma and supporting healthy development:

  • Creating Continuity Between Generations: Ensuring interventions support both the parent and child, fostering an understanding and healing across family lines.
  • Addressing Developmental Trauma: Tailored therapy that considers the unique developmental impacts of trauma.
  • Supporting the Family System: Techniques to calm the family nervous system and build secure attachments.
  • Empowering Through Education: Helping families understand the effects of trauma and how to combat them.

The Pillars of Intergenerational Resilience

The Intergenerational Resilience Method centers on four main pillars to halt the transmission of trauma and foster resilience:

  1. Calm the Family Nervous System: Creating a stable and safe environment for all family members.
  2. Increase Earned Secure Attachment: Building strong, healthy relationships within the family.
  3. Support Child and Teen Development: Addressing the specific developmental needs of children and adolescents affected by trauma.
  4. Build Connection and Family Resilience: Strengthening the family unit to withstand and recover from adversity.


The journey to healing intergenerational trauma is challenging and also deeply rewarding. By understanding its impacts and implementing targeted interventions, we can offer children and teens a path to a healthier, more resilient future. It's not just about healing the wounds of the past but about nurturing the growth and development of the next generation.

As we move forward, remember: addressing intergenerational trauma is imperative. It's the key to breaking the cycle and ensuring that future generations can thrive, unburdened by the traumas of their ancestors.

If you are a therapist working with complex families, would you like to learn enough to begin developing the foundation for specialization in treating intergenerational trauma. You can start right away with the 2024 Intergenerational Trauma Therapist Immersion Calendar!


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