The Nov. Childhood Trauma Newsletter: Healing Intergenerational Trauma

 

Welcome to the November CTN! I can barely find the words to express how excited I am for you to learn more about my Trauma Champion of the Month. Her name is Dr. Mariel Buqué, and she’s a world-renowned specialist in intergenerational trauma. I highly recommend you follow her and preorder her new book, Break the Cycle: A Guide to Healing Intergenerational Trauma.

I am planning another Trauma Book Chat on Dr. Buque´’s new book, and she WILL join us at the event to introduce herself and hear our feedback! Stay tuned to future newsletters and my social media for the registration link to this event. It will take place in the first half of 2024.

Intergenerational trauma, often referred to as ancestral or transgenerational trauma, is a concept that recognizes how traumatic experiences can be passed down through generations, affecting not only individuals but entire families and communities. This phenomenon has gained increased attention in recent years as we better understand the profound impact of past traumas on our lives today.

New research shows that epigenetic changes are measurable in people impacted by the holocaust and the terrorist attacks on 9/11. However, the good news is that the cycle can be broken, and healing is possible. In this newsletter, we’ll explore intergenerational trauma and provide insights into how to break the chains of trauma.

Understanding Intergenerational Trauma:

Intergenerational trauma occurs when the emotional, psychological, and sometimes physical wounds of previous generations continue to influence the lives of their descendants. These traumas can take many forms, from the historical trauma experienced by marginalized communities, such as Indigenous peoples and African Americans, to the more personal, family-based traumas like emotional neglect, addiction, or violence.

While these traumas might not be directly experienced by the current generation, the emotional scars are carried forward, shaping behavior, beliefs, and even physical health.

Breaking the Cycle:

I know firsthand what it’s like to be a cycle-breaker. I am doing the work to make sure I break patterns and unhealthy belief systems handed down to me by my ancestors.  It is draining and exhausting at times, but completely worth it. My daughter will still have her struggles, traumas, and negative memories of me as her mother, but what she will also have is me to sit beside her in it, to love her without expecting anything in return, and to admit the mistakes I’ve made.

1. Awareness:

The first step in breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma is recognizing its existence. By acknowledging the pain and suffering that has been passed down, individuals and families can begin the process of healing. We can’t begin to heal what we don’t acknowledge. This awareness helps to separate the past from the present and empowers people to make positive changes in their lives.

One way to identify your intergenerational trauma is to pay attention to what upsets you while caregiving or parenting. Adults are often activated into trauma responses when they witness children experiencing life as they did as a child. For example, if you can’t tolerate a child crying, perhaps you were shamed for crying as a child, and now, whenever you hear a child cry, you become angry and shut them down, too. When we become aware of this cycle repeating itself, we know when and where to interrupt it.

We will never avoid all of our triggers or activations of our trauma responses, but we know we are healing when we get triggered and have the ability to choose an adaptive response.

2. Communication:

Open and honest communication within families is crucial. Sharing stories and experiences can help break the cycle of silence and secrecy that often surrounds trauma. Adults often keep secrets from children because they believe the truth will harm them. However, when we know the truth about our family history, it settles our nervous system and reduces anxiety. Children are sentient beings, and can feel when something is “off.”  It’s important to deliver information to children in age-appropriate language, and with the guidance of a licensed mental health professional if the content is traumatic. Younger children need fewer details, and older children can handle more details.

4. Collective Care:

Self-care is essential in healing from intergenerational trauma, but it also puts all the pressure on ourselves to heal in a vacuum. We know that trauma from relationships has to be healed in relationships, so cultivating a community where you feel safe and heard is a catalyst for breaking the cycle. The more social support we have, the stronger we will be when our traumas are activated. Creating social connections isn’t always easy, especially in a world so polarized by politics, so be patient and take your time. There is no right way to do this. Get involved in things you enjoy doing, and you will naturally build connections that heal.

5. Break Harmful Patterns:

Think about how you were raised and list the behaviors you want to emulate from your caregivers and those you would rather leave behind. Pay close attention to the choices you make as a caregiver and ask yourself if you are repeating patterns on autopilot, or are there things you would like to stop doing now that you are trauma-aware?

Warning: When we parent differently than how we were raised, we often face backlash from family members, which can be challenging.  Stand firm in knowing WHY you are making these changes. It takes a brave person to be a cycle-breaker.

6. Empowerment:

Healing from intergenerational trauma is about empowerment. Recognizing that you can change the course of your life and future generations is crucial in the healing process. Seek support from community organizations, support groups, or mentors who can provide guidance and encouragement.

Intergenerational trauma persists because it is a complex phenomenon involving epigenetic and behavioral adaptations to trauma. It is also challenging to go against the grain of family history. Although I provide some steps to take here, I realize none of this is easy. It can be overwhelming at times. However, I continue to learn how to break the cycle because the prospect of creating a healthier and more conscious future for generations to come makes it all worthwhile.

Resource of the Month:

https://youtu.be/CD5AXGsygg8
(Video on childhood trauma hosted by Olena Kyianovska and Beth Tyson)

Shameless plug – My most recent webinar on childhood trauma is available on YouTube. We address how to help children cope with war, but the guidance I provide applies to any crisis situation a child or family finds themselves in.

This video will help you be prepared in case of an outbreak of violence in your community, like what happened in Lewiston, Maine, two weeks ago.

Please like and subscribe to my channel if you find it helpful so more people can find it. If you want to hire me to host a webinar, this video exemplifies my work. Please take a look.

Trauma Champion of the Month:

Dr. Mariel Buqué is a Black Dominican, Columbia University-trained Psychologist, intergenerational trauma expert, and the author of the book Break the Cycle: a book that focuses on healing wounds of intergenerational trauma. Her clinical framework is holistic and infuses ancient and indigenous healing practices into a modern, comprehensive therapeutic approach. During her clinical training, she co-developed and completed a 3-year immersive, holistic mental health care fellowship in collaboration with the United States Health Administration and Columbia University Irving Medical Center, where she offered holistic psychotherapy, in the Spanish language across multidisciplinary clinics in the Columbia hospital system.

She has utilized her training in holistic care to integrate holistic practices, like sound bath meditation and breathwork, into therapy, which has helped to deepen trauma healing for her clients. She additionally provides healing workshops to Fortune 100 companies, including Google, Twitter, Capital One, and Meta, and lectures within the psychology department of Columbia University. Dr. Buqué is widely sought out for her clinical expertise and trauma approach. She has been featured on major media outlets, including The Today Show, The Real, Good Morning America, and ABC News.

During her doctoral training and then in her clinical position as a psychologist at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center, Dr. Buqué was able to see the profound impact of intergenerational trauma, which led to her adopting a more holistic lens to healing layered trauma. This is now the underlying methodology behind her proprietary intergenerational healing approach. Dr. Buqué now makes her healing practices accessible through her book Break the Cycle, her newsletter, and a growing community on social media. As such, she has been named as a School of Greatness’s 100 Greatest People Doing Good in 2022.

Below is a quote Dr. Buque provided explicitly for the readers of this Childhood Trauma Newsletter:

“Each day, we are presented with an opportunity to break the cycle of trauma. All we have to do is take it.”

 

What’s New at BTTC?

I currently have an opening in my schedule to add one new client! Many of you have already been trained in trauma-informed care, but it’s an ongoing process. I’ve been in the field for ten years, and I still learn something new about trauma every day. The research constantly reveals new treatments and solutions your organization needs to stay progressive.

My style is simple and hope-filled. I translate complex neuroscience on childhood trauma into language, skills, activities, and stories anyone can relate to. My focus is on the healing power of one consistent adult, and the prevention of childhood trauma through emotional safety, attachment, grieving, and belonging. The work I do is grounded in the latest research and evidence-based practices.

Here are a few examples of how we can work together:

If you are curious, have questions, or need pricing information, CONTACT ME now to schedule a chat. If you wait, the opening might be gone!

Season Two of All Connected Academy: A Place for Belonging, will be released soon! It is a free, animated YouTube series to teach teens and young adults how to understand and cope with childhood trauma. I am a co-creator of each video in both seasons, along with a group of badass humans with lived experience in the foster care system. I can’t wait to share season two with you! Stay tuned for the release, and in the meantime, watch the intro video below and rewatch Season One.

https://youtu.be/PEDWaGtjMv0?si=qEHM-EZ7hfnQmqJV
(Video: Season 1 of All Connected: A Place for Belonging)

This week, I embark on my first-ever women’s retreat! As many of you know, my mother died unexpectedly when I was in my mid-twenties. This retreat is specifically for women whose mothers died when they were between 20-30, and I am really looking forward to connecting with people who understand what this journey is like. I will be documenting my experience and sharing about it in my next blog, so keep an eye out for it!

Must-Read News from the Field:

In Closing…

So much suffering has occurred over the last few weeks, and more is coming. The massacre in Maine hit so close to home for me. I grew up about half an hour from Lewiston and went bowling with my family in that area regularly. The intense trauma murder like this causes our communities is irrefutable. It will take multiple generations to heal from what happened in one night. That is the power of violence. I pray that common sense will prevail and we will start to protect our innocent citizens from gun violence.

Please do everything you can to focus on the well-being of yourself and your children. You are worthy of goodness, compassion, and love because you are alive. Even though it may not seem like it, our brains are wired for social connection, empathy, and compassion. Caring for each other is how we survived as a species across time. Despite what we see in the news, there are some positive things taking place. I encourage you to be a “hope seeker,” and find the light in the dark.

I find hope by reading Positive.News, and remembering that bad times will always be balanced out with the good. Hang in there, Trauma Champions. We can’t give up! The children need us.

I love hearing your feedback on this newsletter, and I do my best to respond to every comment. I’m always looking for suggestions on the Trauma Champion of the Month and other ways to get this newsletter to more people so we can help children. I’m open to ideas.

If you have any suggestions, please email me at info@bethtyson.com, and remember to like, comment, and share with friends and colleagues!

With hope and grief,

Beth

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