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Family Trauma and Historical Trauma

Refresh Recovery mental health treatment in San Diego provides a systematic and integrative approach to trauma, including its accompanying substance abuse factor.

Are you wondering if you have had trauma that is interrupting your quality of life and are considering getting help? Understanding trauma is vital to begin the journey of recovery. At Refresh Recovery trauma treatment, we believe that our behavior has underlying roots and that with evidence-based practices, tools can empower individuals to rise above their past.

You and your child might have experienced a traumatic event together: for example, a severe car accident, a flood, a domestic explosion, a shooting, or the suicide of a friend. The trauma could also happen to you or your daughter/son.

Even if you didn’t experience the traumatic event with your relative, you might still have strong feelings and reactions afterward.

For example, you might feel guilty that you couldn’t stop the tragedy or were absent during the event. You might also feel anxious, overwhelmed, or upset. These are natural reactions because you feel responsible for keeping your next kin safe.

Coping After Trauma

Failure to Cope with Trauma

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Coping After Trauma

Life can feel turned upside down after a traumatic family event. In addition to the needs of daily life, new demands on your time, like insurance claims or medical appointments, may make it more challenging to manage or attend to many of your routines.

At Refresh Recovery trauma treatment, our therapists can pour some energy into coping calmly and positively, sharing resources and tools to manage family life and maintain vulnerability to self and others. These newfound coping mechanisms are transferrable to our work and loved ones.

  • Refresh Recovery emphasizes reducing and ceasing substance use disorders like alcohol or drugs through rehabilitation. It is expected to turn to these distractors as someone re-experiences trauma. However, alcohol and drugs can create problems with finances, relationships, and health, making recovering after a traumatic event even harder.
  • Trauma therapy uses innovative behavioral health research that makes treating safely and with the proper exposure possible. Refresh Recovery mental health treatment ensures that other disorders, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), are acknowledged for therapy to be more efficient and not triggered.
  • We believe in exercise, doing things you enjoy, having a supervised, safe space to talk about your feelings, and asking for help from your therapist and eventually family, friends, or your partner with the proper boundaries.
  • Signs that you need help after a traumatic event include headaches, depression, insomnia, stress, or feelings of anger, guilt, or shame.

If self-soothing or coping mechanisms for trauma aren’t enough, become overwhelming, or affect life considerably, Refresh Recovery Mental Health San Diego wants to provide a suited program that encompasses your needs for trauma.

Failure to Cope With Trauma

Over time, most people cope after a traumatic event, but a few people might have trouble coping.

Some of the signs that you need help after trauma are:

  • Feeling constantly anxious, angry, overwhelmed, upset, guilty, and ashamed or blaming yourself for over a few months after the traumatic event.
  • You are experiencing changes to your health, including headaches, weight loss/gain, and insomnia.
  • Find it hard to get the event out of your mind.
  • Feeling “cut off” from your social circle.
  • Failure to care for your child or offer the emotional support your loved one needs.

Recovery after a traumatic event is not easy. The more you wait, the longer it will take you to recover. Reach out to Refresh Recovery mental health treatment San Deigo if you have any of these signs or cannot overcome the traumatic event alone. Read more on our blog about healthy lifestyles in recovery from addiction and mental health or for information on our San Diego County community resources for mental health.

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Historical Trauma

Generational or Historical Trauma

Historical trauma is multigenerational trauma experienced by a specific ethnic, cultural, or racial group.

It is related to significant events that oppressed a particular group of people because of their status as oppressed, such as the Holocaust, forced migration, slavery, and the violent colonization of Native Americans.

Attending Historical Trauma

While many in such a group will experience no effects of the historical trauma, others may experience poor overall physical and behavioral health, including depression, self-destructive behavior, poor self-esteem, marked propensity for violent or aggressive behavior, addictions, and high rates of cardiovascular disease and suicide. 

Acute problems of domestic violence or alcohol misuse that are not directly linked to historical trauma may be exacerbated by living in a community with unaddressed grief and behavioral health needs. Parents’ experience of trauma may disrupt ordinary parenting skills and contribute to behavior problems in children. Compounding this familial or intergenerational trauma, historical trauma often involves the additional challenge of a tarnished cultural identity.

Clinical social workers first described historical trauma among the offspring of the Holocaust survivors and the children of Japanese Americans interned during World War II. 

The children and grandchildren of survivors tend to experience attachment issues and isolation from their parents. 

Communities of Native Americans who experienced repeated massacres and the forced removal of children to federal and mission boarding and day schools have been attended.

Historical trauma can be described as cumulative emotional and psychological wounding over the lifespan and across generations, emanating from massive group trauma experiences. African Americans, for instance, experienced ages of segregation, institutionalized racism, and slavery that have contributed to their psychological, spiritual, and physical trauma.

For members of these communities, daily reminders of racial discrimination often exacerbate individual responses to trauma. An understudied group that has experienced historical trauma is the disability community. 

People with disabilities have been subjected to biases and misrepresentations about their capabilities and lived experiences in the recent past.

Attempts to eradicate people with disabilities have included eugenics campaigns, forced psychiatric treatment, institutionalizing people with intellectual disabilities, and compulsory sterilization.

Historical Trauma Treatment

By being mindful of unresolved grief and distrust of majority groups or government programs, therapists can deliver programs to reduce family stress, child neglect, toxic substance use, mental health problems, and domestic violence.

Refresh Recovery Mental Health Treatment San Diego staff can better understand present-day reactions to events in the context of individual trauma narratives.

To build trust, our clinicians will be respectful, aware of different reactions to traumatic events within communities, and focus on community strengths and resilience. Understanding that all communities are unique, with distinct cultural norms and belief systems, our personnel is in an excellent position to support members of the affected community.

Relevant  and Alternative Approaches

Research is still emerging on the effectiveness of treatment methods for patients experiencing historical trauma. Treatment approaches are grounded in traditional healing methods and ceremonial practices of communities. 

Psychoeducational group interventions delivered at geographic locations that are sacred to members of tribal communities that involve ceremonies reinforcing cultural identity have taken place. Although even top researchers in this field acknowledge the literature about historical trauma is controversial, there is an important emphasis on the healing process, and overcoming the barriers to resolving grief.

Key Facts

  • Historical trauma is intergenerational trauma experienced by a specific cultural group that has a history of being systematically oppressed.
  • Current lifespan trauma, superimposed upon a traumatic ancestral past creates additional adversity.
  • Historical trauma is cumulative across generations. Descendants who have not directly experienced a traumatic event can exhibit the signs and symptoms of trauma, such as depression, fixation on trauma, low self-esteem, anger, and self-destructive behavior.
  • Sometimes, the belief that the systems do not support them makes people experience triggers that are re-traumatizing.
  • Clinicians working with members of underserved cultural groups can help by gaining a fuller understanding of clients’ historical and community context. Providers can also seek and build alliances with local, respected individuals such community or religious leaders.

Trauma Treatment San Diego at Refresh Recovery

At Refresh Recovery, our mental health professionals are trained to provide treatment in a humane and empathetic setting making mental health attention one of comfort and non-judgment whether isolated or in co-occurring with substance use disorders, your tailored mental health or dual diagnosis rehabilitation program will be developed with your unique needs in mind.

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