Generational Trauma



Understanding Generational Trauma

Generational trauma, or intergenerational trauma, is the term used to describe the transmission of traumatic events from one generation to the next. This phenomenon has been studied very closely in recent years. In one study, mice were introduced to acetophenone (a scent similar to cherries) while being given small electric shocks. Eventually, any time the mice smelled acetophenone, they had a fear response. What scientists found is that when those mice had babies, their babies also had a fear response to acetophenone, despite the fact that they had never been given electric shocks. Furthermore, when those babies had babies of their own, they too had a fear response to acetophenone. Somehow, the fear response had been passed down through generations of mice. 

The belief is that a similar process happens among humans in which fear and trauma responses get passed down from one generation to the next. Scientists believe that both your environment and behaviors can modify the way your genes work, causing a predisposition to act or react in a certain way.  The study of this phenomenon is referred to as epigenetics. For example, perhaps you’re looking to talk to someone about your experience of being abused by your father. You may discover that your dad was abused by his dad, who was also abused by his father. When in treatment, you’re not just looking to manage the relationship with your dad, you’re working to heal from generations of pain and criticism, passed down from one person to the next. 

Generational Trauma Treatment Approach

At SYTI counseling, we understand that the pain you’re experiencing could be from a result of generations of family trauma that has not yet been explored. Using a combination of psychodynamic, somatic, and dialectical behavioral therapies, we can help you more deeply explore how generational trauma may be playing a role in the pain you’re experiencing in the present. We understand that we can’t go back in time and heal your family members and ancestors, but what we can do is help you figure out how to set down generations of pain that is no longer yours to carry. We will support you as you explore the behavior patterns and cycles that caused problems in your family members for decades. Through understanding your generational trauma, you have the ability to break the cycle and establish healthier and happier ways of existing in the world. You also have the power to change the course of your lineage for generations to come. 

Scheduling and More Information

If you are searching for support for intergenerational trauma, please click here to book a therapy appointment with a See You Through It Counseling therapist.

To learn more about the treatment services See You Through It Counseling provides, check out our treatment specialties.

For more information on intergenerational trauma, check out the resources below:

Intergenerational Trauma: How It Affects Families (

To read more about the study on intergenerational trauma conducted with mice, check out the article below: Fearful Memories Passed Down to Mouse Descendants – Scientific American