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Family therapist Shaista Zeeshan explains how intergenerational trauma affects our lives and how to break the chain

Meet Shaista Zeeshan a holistic therapist of some distinction who has helped many in distress resolve intergenerational family trauma

There’s a handful of people that are born to help other people. A Pakistan and raised in UAE, one such soul is Shaista Zeeshan, a certified Holistic Therapist, Intuitive Energy Healer, and Family Constellations Trans-generational Trauma Resolution expert. She helps people heal and resolve intergenerational family issues that often cause unexplained health or behavioral disorders, thus unconsciously holding them back from experiencing life to the fullest.

In this conversation, Shaista sheds light on her journey, the process, and why the world seems to have reached a collective consensus on our need for therapy in recent times.

What motivated you to become a therapist?

People often see their lives as somehow separate from those in their family system. However, scientific research into epigenetics proves that the energy of any trauma or tragedy within a family has a ripple effect on the generations that follow. 

The effects of unresolved traumas are often revealed in Family Constellations Systemic therapy, sometimes across 4-5 generations, manifesting as emotional, mental, relational, and health issues. Aristotle’s quote, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” is proved true when our problems are seen from the Systemic lens.

For instance, when a child loses a mother at a young age, they may develop coping mechanisms to deal with this loss. However, when they mature, the energy of this trauma has not been resolved. This may manifest as couple/ marital conflicts or the inability to connect with their own children.

Once taboo, what do you think has contributed to therapy gaining acceptance at impressive speed?

There has been an energetic shift worldwide, especially during the pandemic. It allows people to let go of old redundant limiting beliefs and form new ones. The increase in awareness around alternative healing methods, mindfulness, meditations, yoga, etc., is a sign of this.

Nowadays, I see people from all walks of life coming for therapy. In UAE, we are fortunate to have some wonderful places to access therapy, and having online availability of world-class services is a great boon.

Shaista Zeeshan-Energy Healer

Social stigma and other fears do not allow people to seek help. What happens when such familial trauma goes unaddressed or untreated?

It’s important to understand that we are an extension of ongoing stories of our ancestors that played out before our birth. Our ancestors lived harsher lives, having faced wars, displacement from their homelands, survived poverty and hunger, or were prosecuted due to their faith. Someone in the family could have been ostracized for breaking family tradition or other purported transgressions. These situations change people’s beliefs like the world is not a safe place to be or that they don’t deserve money, health, or love. If unaddressed, these beliefs are unconsciously passed down generations after generations.

Family members are sometimes determined to brush issues under the carpet. How can one convince their family to recognize and address their family’s concerns?

People come to therapy when they are ready. When one begins to question, change and release unhealthy beliefs and patterns of abuse, manipulation, self-sabotaging behaviors, etc., they will be judged by those still unaware of their effects on their lives.

Transformation can be lonely. In my case, I exhibited people-pleasing and self-sacrificing behavior as a coping mechanism and the need to belong to my family. When I started enforcing boundaries, I faced judgments and resistance. However, I started seeing the ripple effect that occurs in a family after doing deep inner healing work through Family Constellations. Other members of my family started their healing journey as well.

I truly believe words alone will not convince others to heal, but when others see you projecting a better persona, they will follow the light too.

It’s important to understand that we are an extension of ongoing stories of our ancestors that played out before our birth

People are now starting to recognize the patterns in a dysfunctional family. Given that so much old trauma is layered and unresolved, do you think that a well-adjusted and happy family is a myth?

For many families, dysfunction is their normal. However, it takes self- dedication, self-compassion, courage, and trust to create a conscious functional harmonious family.

When I started my own family, it was based on unhealthy beliefs and attachment styles. However, through years of learning and seeking, I have been able to create a better harmonious family setup. The dysfunction was a symptom of deeper problems. Once they are excavated and brought to light, the need for dysfunctionality is gone.

Have you faced resistance from your clients during your healing work? Is that to be expected and how do you overcome it?

Resistance is often Systemic in nature, which means people are unconsciously very loyal to their family systems. Healing would mean letting go of the family’s collective unhelpful beliefs and outgrowing them. Unfortunately, this can bring up feelings of unconscious guilt and shame.

Once I sense it, I deal with it accordingly. I even refuse to work with those who are too resistant, knowing they will seek it when they are ready.

What is your advice to people starting families of their own to avoid or surpass old trauma and have healthy, fulfilling bonds in the family unit?

My advice to new couples or people starting families is to seek healing through Family Constellations, especially if they come from dysfunctional families or have limiting beliefs. Systemic patterns have a habit of repeating themselves, so they must be dealt with sooner rather than later to avoid future failures.

The corporate world has increasingly involved counselors and therapists to support their employees perform at their best. Have you been involved in such initiatives, and what has been your takeaway as such?

I also practice business coaching through Business Constellations that provide a Systemic point of view to various hidden dynamics that do not allow companies and businesses to flourish. Since it’s relatively new, it is yet to gain momentum within the business world.

Constellations have proven how intrinsically everyone is connected not just within their own family system but also within other groups they belong to like their schools, companies, religion, country, etc. 

What would you say to those who still hold a stigma against therapy?

I recommend everyone to go on a heart-warming journey from unconscious self-destructive patterns to conscious expansion. It is worth it. These therapies are not about who is right or who is wrong.

They provide people with a vision to look at life from a significantly higher perspective, thus empowering individuals to live life positively with courage and strength.

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