EMDRIA Approved EMDR Consultant and former Trainer
Natalie S. Robinson, LICSW
phone: 781 771-4487
“The further back you look, the further forward you are likely to see.” attributed to Winston Churchill
HEALING TRANSGENERATIONAL TRAUMA with EMDR PSYCHOTHEAPY ©
Natalie S. Robinson, LICSW, EMDRIA AC
● WHAT IS TRANSGENERATIONAL TRAUMA and WHY WE SHOULD HEAL IT?
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Psychotherapy is an extensively researched and effective treatment for trauma. Historical patterns of invasive wars, familial or cultural oppression such as child abandonment, abuse, genocide, slavery or addiction can be seen to have
traumatized people across generations. There is strong evidence that the effects of unmitigated trauma that endangered earlier generations may be unknowingly transmitted to descendants behaviorally or perhaps through genes. This toxic residue of transmitted trauma may manifest in us or in others as anxiety, depression, hypervigilance or even self-loathing, internalized rage or violent behavior.
The negative impact of transmitted trauma can be mitigated with legacy attuned EMDR. All of our ancestors had to survive as best that they could in the world and time in which they lived. Some of the skills that helped them survive may be useful to us today, some may not. Transgenerational EMDR work acknowledges and mitigates some of the negative impact of discrimination, contempt, and rejection or life threats due to being a minority, a member of a harassed group, or a cultural, institutionalized or familial scapegoat.
● HOW WE HEAL THIS TRAUMA
EMDR reprocessing reduces the impact of traumatic memories, negative self-beliefs and emotional blockages stemming from past and current triggers and strengthens future coping capacities. Transgenerational reprocessing with legacy attuned EMDR 1) Adds embedded resources from those who came before us 2) Desensitizes current triggers rooted in the distant past 3) Stimulates a simultaneous rejection of outdated defenses and fears 4) Strengthens a coherent life narrative and a sense of being grounded through time and place.
● WHEN DO WE DO THIS TRANSGENERATIONAL REPROCESSING ?
Legacy attuned EMDR reprocessing may be done early in the therapy to access ancestral strengths or later to desensitize a current trigger or even later to develop a coherent life narrative. Current rage, fear or a sense of helplessness related to distant past atrocities or current traumatic incidences can surface from a multitude of sources: the news, digital media, family, work or societal experiences. Acknowledgment of the connection between oppressive distant past experiences and present ones supports current distress and can deepen a sense of healing through time.
The legacy attuned coherent life narrative is generally developed near the end of a course of EMDR therapy to complete the work done and consolidate the distant past with memories, current reactions and future coping. One example of a coherent life narrative might be: “My ancestors were forced to leave their homeland and found the strength to survive. I have their strength in me. I am doing what I need to do to be resilient in spite of myself. I will continue to strive to be strong for myself and others who need me.”
Excerpted from: Robinson, N., Legacy Attuned EMDR Therapy: Toward a Coherent Narrative in the book entitled “Cultural Competence and Healing
Culturally Based Trauma with EMDR Therapy: Innovative Strategies and Protocols”
Mark Nickerson, Editor, Copyright © Springer Publishing 2017