As The Psychogenealogist I help people find and share their family stories.
Whether you have been researching your family tree for decades or you just started exploring your own genealogy yesterday, you have probably asked yourself at least one of these questions:
Where did I come from?
Who were my ancestors and what are their stories?
What were their joys, fears, and hopes?
What traumas did they endure and how did it shape them?
What secrets have been kept in my family and why?
How did the experiences of my ancestors influence who I am today?
How might those experiences affect my children, and their children?
What in my family’s past might have influenced my personality or career choice?
How do I honor and preserve the stories in my family tree?
As I thought about these questions, it struck me that they are some of the very same questions that I address in my professional career as a clinical psychologist providing psychotherapy to individuals and couples.
As a therapist I help people tell their personal stories in the privacy of a consulting room. These stories are often painful ones that cause people periods of depression, anxiety, or other difficult emotional states. Those who consult me for psychotherapy do so to address lives that range from mildly unsatisfying to chronically miserable and hopeless.
All of them have stories, about themselves and their families. As a therapist it is my job to help each person find and tell their stories in a meaningful way. Doing so can provide some relief from the emotional difficulties that they experience.
When I started The Psychogenealogist several years ago, it occured to me that my training as a psychologist greatly informs my philosophy as a family historian and genealogy enthusiast, researcher, and writer.
To be clear, genealogy is NOT psychotherapy nor a substitute for professional mental health treatment for people who need it.
I have found though, that there can be great personal and emotional value in examining the histories and stories in your family’s past.
Here are some of the benefits from my own experience researching my family tree and writing publically about it here at The Psychogenealogist.
It has brought me closer to family members.
I have met, online and in person, dozens of “new” cousins.
I have felt a greater sense of purpose and connection to others in my life.
I have experienced first hand the joy and gratitude of those I share newly discovered family stories with.
I have a better appreciation for the historical struggles my ancestors endured that have lead to the life I am able to lead today.
I have a better understanding of the culture, geography, and language of my forebearers.
I have seen how both the traumas and blessings of history play out across generations, in my family and others.
I experience more gratitude and understanding.
I feel lucky and proud.
I know myself better.
I can’t, and won’t, promise you any of the above if you start looking seriously at your family tree. I can only share my experience and encourage you to open your minds and hearts to the potential, and often unexpected, benfits of finding and sharing your family’s stories.
What are some of the best experiences you have had as a result of your genealogy research? I would love to hear your stories!
Do you need some help finding, telling, or sharing your family stories?
Here are some stories from my family tree: