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Breaking the Chains of Transgenerational Trauma: The Journey to Healing

Have you ever thought about what we inherit from our family beyond our appearance? It's akin to a family tree; we may be the fresh leaves, but our roots grow...

Have you ever thought about what we inherit from our family beyond our appearance?

It's akin to a family tree; we may be the fresh leaves, but our roots grow deep into the stories and beliefs of generations past. Their influence permeates our thoughts and emotions, whether we're aware of it or not. While preserving our family's history holds immense value, it also entails confronting transgenerational traumas, with all of it burdens and issues.

In an enlightening conversation with Yusra Aziz (she/her), a psychotherapist, educator, and the visionary behind Our Healing Vision Counseling & Consultation LLC, she states that "addressing intergenerational trauma begins with awareness and engaging in conversations around what is harmful and unhealthy within our families and communities without necessarily assigning value judgment. Open dialogue about the struggles we face are integral to moving away from the overwhelming shame and towards a space of safety. To anyone who suspects that they may be struggling with intergenerational trauma, I strongly suggest working with a trauma-informed, culturally responsive licensed therapist who is a good fit for you."

Yusra further remarks that many SWANA (Southwest Asia and North Africa) individuals harbor reservations about therapy, often perceiving it as another Western imposition on our culture. While this concern is valid, it's vital to recognize that many contemporary mental health practices draw inspiration from age-old Eastern healing traditions. She goes on to highlight that a culturally responsive therapist acknowledges the significance of healing practices within our communities and empowers individuals to harness them.

Here's the promising aspect: just as trauma can be passed down, so can the resilience to overcome it. Envision it as a torch relayed from one generation to the next—a torch symbolizing healing and resilience. While grappling with transgenerational trauma may appear daunting, remember that the capacity to heal and grow constitutes an integral part of our family's legacy.

So, the question arises: How can we break the cycle of transgenerational trauma?

"The reality is that engaging in these challenging conversations surrounding the stigma associated with mental health and taking the initial steps toward open communication, establishing healthy boundaries, and managing our emotions is a pivotal journey in dismantling the patterns of trauma."

Yusra also mentions that many SWANA individuals have faced centuries of systematic oppression and efforts to erase their communities and cultures, often due to European colonization and imperialism. Coping mechanisms were created to help deal with urgent problems, but they can become unhelpful when the traumatic event is no longer an immediate danger. She adds, "When trauma is left unresolved and passed down to the next generation who doesn’t necessarily have the vocabulary or tools to understand their experience— we can start to see higher incidences of PTSD, anxiety, depression, emotional dysregulation, low self-esteem, relational issues, etc."

By engaging in open conversations, dismantling the stigma surrounding mental health, and taking those initial steps toward communication, boundary-setting, and emotional management we can let go of our transgenerational trauma. These crucial actions pave the way for healing and offer hope for a brighter, healthier future. As Yusra Aziz reminds us, the resilience to overcome is a part of our family's legacy, and it's within our power to be the change-makers and breakers of the cycle.

So, habibi please, consider seeking therapy and join us in breaking the cycle of trauma. Your journey towards healing can contribute to the transformation of our shared legacy.

Learn more about Yusra and her practice at

Please Note:

If you or someone you know is in crisis
If you're in immediate danger or need urgent medical support, call 911. 

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call Talk Suicide Canada at 1-833-456-4566. Support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For residents of Quebec, call 1-866-277-3553 or visit

Visit Talk Suicide Canada for the distress centres and crisis organizations nearest you. If you're experiencing gender-based violence, you can access a crisis line in your province or territory.

To connect with a mental health professional one-on-one:
call 1-888-668-6810 or text WELLNESS to 686868 for youth
call 1-866-585-0445 or text WELLNESS to 741741 for adults

For more information, visit the Government of Canada website here.

Arabic language mental health resources for newcomers by Evidence Exchange Network (EENet), CAMH

Newcomer Initiative for Arabic-speaking Youth


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