Trauma Worksheets for Healing Transgenerational Trauma

It Didn’t Start With You Printable Worksheets for Self-Improvement

The It Didn’t Start With You transgenerational trauma worksheets make it easy to explore your family heritage and how it affects you in present time. I designed them to be used alongside with the book of the same name.

Note that I designed these generational trauma worksheets to be used specifically with the It Didn’t Start with You book by Mark Wollyn. So in case that you haven’t already done that, go and purchase your copy of his book.

The worksheets will then help you have more clarity about each step in Mark Wollyn’s process. By printing out the papers, you would be able to do the exercises in the book with greater ease, and enjoy some illustrations too (as always with my printables, my idea is for them to be beautiful, as well as therapeutic). 

Preview of Healing Trauma Workbook - by It didn't Start With You Transgenerational Trauma


Transgenerational trauma (also known as generational trauma, though other terms also apply) explores the idea that our recent and not-so-recent ancestors’ experiences affect us in profound ways.

The idea is actually backed by science and is today widely accepted. As a 2015 study of Holocaust survivors lead by Rachel Yehuda found out, trauma can be passed onto children’s genes through a mechanism called epigenetics.

Epigenetics is the study of how your behaviors and environment cause changes in your genes by more or less switching genes on and off. Trans-generational trauma, or epigenetics, explain why a child or a grandchild of a Holocaust survivor is way more prone to mental health disorders.

Rachel Yehuda’s studies prove that children of Holocaust survivors have chronically low blood cortisol levels, and their children inherit that. Ironically, PTSD shuts down a person’s system in such a way, that the body is in a constant state of underperformance, with occasional outbursts or not. This is called “disregulation”.  

Transgenerational Trauma-Healing by Journaling & Imagination

Generally, my current understanding is that most effective trauma-healing approaches include some form of utilization of imagination, where the subject is asked to go back in time and re-imagine traumatic events. However, in these approaches key is to be an active participant and have a sense of agency.

To paraphrase the author of the book The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk, says – it’s not enough to go to talk therapy and talk extensively about trauma. Trauma, be it PTSD or intergenerational trauma, is an “incomplete learning” (to quote Heidi Priebe) and contains an inner contradiction that needs to be resolved. An event creates a hole in a person’s mind, where a story or a narrative is broken, incomplete or parts of it are missing. Thus, specialists like Bessel van der Kolk use various techniques, including non-conventional ones like theater, to treat PTSD and Cptsd by creating new stories and new narratives.

Using Imagination to Create A New Story & Break The Silence

In this regard, you can think of Mark Wollyn’s approach on trauma therapy as using imagination to create a new story for elements of your emotional experience you don’t fully understand. Also to note – some parts of the book also explore pretty much traditional psychotherapy ideas like having assumed a parent’s experience, emotions or beliefs.

A key moment is also breaking the silence, which the worksheets help facilitate. It seems like a huge part of dealing with any type of trauma is indeed verbalizing things that were not talked about before. In case of Cptsd or PTSD, a survivor often cannot verbalize what they feel and experienced.

According to Wollyn though, and that is what I gather from the book, the case of transgenerational trauma the family’s story is untold, forgotten and not spoken about. This includes certain people in the story that invoke trauma in the present.

Core Trauma Mapping Printable worksheets, genogram mapping

A More Spiritual Approach to Generational Trauma Therapy

As imagination plays a huge role in healing any kind of trauma, It Didn’t Start with You offers a healthy, effective way to deal with some of your concerns. Mark Wollyn’s book takes a slightly more spiritual approach as it goes beyond science’s current findings. For example, it also explores non-family members’ involvement in family history.

Still, I personally find the ideas in the book very useful both for the purpose of self-development and for studying your family history as a whole. I found that using the printable worksheets that I created to accompany my personal journey can be very useful for these purposes. Both for trauma healing and to make it easier to follow along the exercises in the book.

Narcissistic Parents & Narcissistic Abuse in the Family vs. This Book

A quick note about conducting self-therapy with this book regarding narcissism in the family. Especially if your father or your mother were severely narcissistic, I don’t think this book will be a super useful approach. It could be, but the call for compassion and understanding towards your parents could be too much to handle at this point. 

For everyone else who had parents who were good-enough in certain regards, and had not-so-good-enough parenting in others, the ideas in book might work magic. The whole notion of understanding where your mother or father came from to raise you this way can have a huge positive impact on you as an individual. 

Effective Self-Therapy & Generational Trauma

If you know your family history, self-therapy with generational trauma in mind can be surprisingly effective. A personal example – when the Ukraine war started, I got extremely anxious.

However, my type of anxiousness was quite different from my friends’ reaction, and it became apparent almost immediately. This is what promted me to research more generational trauma with Mark Wollyn’s book, and eventually make my own worksheets to guide me through the process.

Printable Worksheets for Healing Trauma by Yourself

Each page in my printable worksheets for healing trauma guides you through the self-therapy journey of figuring out where your personal trauma comes from. This is the whole premise of the title – it doesn’t all come from you and some of your trauma may have family origins.

These trauma-healing worksheets can be a great addition to your self-development practice, be it spiritual or more psychology oriented.

Reviews from the Etsy Store

What Do Others Think of the Worksheets? Testimonials


Didn’t need shipping, instant download, but love the printable options and artwork designs! Excited to use

Rachel Maslyk


Wonderful to use with a group


It Didnt Start With You Trauma Workbook for Digital Download

It Didn’t Start with You & Generational Trauma: A Personal Story

As I said, my personal experience with generational trauma really began with the onset of the Russian’s invasion of Ukraine. Up until then I had some knowledge on the topic, but nothing prompted me to probe deeper.

We all got really worried about the 2022 invasion, even though the war technically started in 2014. Ukraine is some 1200 km away from where I live, not to mention Russia being a persistent threat to our region.

However, while my friends were way calmer and rational, my own immediate reaction could only be described as on the verge of terror.

My Own Surprising Reactions to Traumatic Events

The war made my friends think of how to pack up stuff most efficiently in a case of emergency, and made me get enraged and lash out at pro-Russian Bulgarians on Facebook. My immediate thoughts were along the lines of “everyone’s a traitor” and “I can’t escape”. I wasn’t exactly wrong – some of the people I know are affected by Russian propaganda and are actually pro-Putin, as surprising as it sounds.

However, with the help of a close friend of mine, an illustrator and a psychologist in the makeup, I was able to realize there’s something more to my personal story and it points to trauma that didn’t start with me.

When Both of Your Grandparents Were Death Camp Survivors

So at the time I didn’t fully realize that both my grandparents were death camp survivors of some sort. One, grandfather Vasil, was in a communist death camp, while the other, grandfather Aron, missed Nazi death camps like many others in Bulgaria, but family history is very vague about his family’s involvement in Jewish workforces at the time.

My Worst Fear prompt, generational trauma worksheets by casuallyluxe

Working with Mark Wollyn’s book It Didn’t Start with You helped me understand my core fears directly correlated with my family history. I used the worksheets I made to organize my thoughts more clearly. 

In my case, I could track a specific fear of society, organized powers, unfair setups and so on. 

A slightly traumatic event had triggered these feelings, but to be fair, I had always lived with them and I think they are more or less part of my personality.

With or without the printouts, you can use the book to reflect onto your core sentence. What is your worst fear? And it’s kind of then that you explore that further. 

(Grandfather Vasil wrote a book shortly before he passed away. I apologize in advance for future edits of this story for accuracy – I read the book some time ago and I may have forgotten facts, for example his age during the death camps. I think he was about 22, and the year was 1947, but I may be mistaken. I reserve the right to edit as soon as I find and re-read the book). 

My Grandfather, the Communist Death Camp Survivor

Following the Red Army’s arrival in Bulgaria in 1944, the country was immediately engulfed in deaths. Amidst widespread repression and violence, the government established its first communist forced labor camps, or communist concentration camps, according to historians.

In the next few years, the new order was established and things began to settle. My grandfather Vasil was quite young at the time, and from a poor family, so his concerns were mainly about his education. He wanted to study filmmaking (or was it theater?) to become a director.

However, the best theatrical university in the country was at the time a mere school, and didn’t offer this type of education. Thus, he did what everyone else would – he applied for a permission to travel abroad to France and study there.

The Rejections 

You see, the regime had made it impossible to travel abroad and escape the country. Formally, you could apply, and that’s what grandfather Vasil did. To no avail – he received his rejection some months after.

Again he did apply for a permission to travel abroad to study to become a director. Again he was rejected. 

The Escape

At some point grandfather Vasil realized he would never get an official permission, so he devised a plan. He would secretly escape the country with a close friend of his, Tsvetan, via the Serbian borders. Then they would be able to somehow reach France. 

The plan worked until they met the first traitor – a kind wagoner near the borders who offered them a ride only to bring them to the local police. There Vasil and Tsvetan got beaten and eventually sent to the communist concentration camps. 

Concentration Camps in Communist Bulgaria

Communist concentration camps in Bulgaria were built according to Stalin’s best ideas, and while officially forced labour camps were in practice just that – death camps for everyone deemed an enemy of the state. This included former businessmen, entrepreneurs, fascists, anarchists, monarchists, criminals, pimps and so on. It also included our story’s main characters, grandfather Vasil and his friend Tsvetan, who just wanted to study in France.

The conditions were as terrible as you would imagine – very little hygiene, disease, parasites, abuse, hunger, and so on. I won’t go into much detail, but I remember my grandfather’s mentioning of his nightmares that bothered his roommates in the shack – he frequently woke them up with screams of terror. It would be accurate to say that everyone there eventually developed PTSD, if they ever survived. 

Grandfather’s Vasil’s Guilt

What is more surprising in grandfather Vasil’s story was the guilt he developed in the camps. In his mind, he was the traitor of the country and a disgrace to his family. How could he have done something so horrible as to try to escape Bulgaria to study abroad?!

His undeveloped 20-something mind couldn’t fathom that the regime was atrociously oppressive. It seems that instead his brain formed (along with the PTSD) a parallel reality where the facts were twisted to make him the traitor.

Proving His Worthiness

The only solution for Vasil was to prove his worthiness to the state by relentlessly working in the camp. During his time there in a total of two camps, he set out to exceed the quotas, pushing himself and his fellow prisoners to work harder and faster. He orchestrates efficient strategies and motivates his comrades. 

I don’t think he changed the outside environment as much as he lifted up his inner world and escaped the prison of his own mind. Especially because it was engulfed in the shame and guilt of realizing he was in extremely unfortunate conditions that could likely affect his whole life, if he even survived.

Vasil & Tsvetan

Grandfather Vasil was eventually released after about an year in the camps (from my recollection), and I think it was partially due to his behavior, but also maybe because the family was finally able to pull some strings and orchestrate a release. 

Tsvetan, however, didn’t have that luck. Years ago I met his grandson, and he mentioned his grandfather’s grim story after his camp life. Tsvetan was released after a year only to be imprisoned again a year later. 

It was a practice for the communist oppressive regime to do such things, that, as you can imagine, can completely crush a person’s soul. After he got home from the second time of death camps imprisonment, Tsvetan never left his hometown, Pleven.

Life After Prison Camps

Grandfather Vasil eventually re-integrated himself into society and became a prominent actor and director of theatrical plays. He did that through a combination of incredible resilience, strength and grit and a painstaking feeling of shame and guilt. He felt extremely ashamed for being an ex-prisoner.

I don’t think he ever realized what really happened and who was at fault, personally or on a societal level, for the imprisonment of young men who want to study abroad. 

Printable Trauma Worksheets Example: The Core Language Map

As it’s pressented in the book, the trauma worksheets also contain step by step prompts from the book to map out your inner beliefs. This detailed self-therapy process helps you engage in an inner exploration, and includes mapping out the corresponding genogram.

Core Trauma Mapping Printable worksheets, genogram mapping

My Grandfather, the Jew

Even though Bulgaria has never been a truly fascist country during WW2, anti-semitism was still a thing and my grandfather Aron probably had his fair share of hatred aimed at him for his origins. Important to note that Bulgarian Jews under the territory escaped Nazi concentration camps thanks to the courageous efforts of a few remarkable figures of that time. 

I know very little about grandfather Aron, or my great-grandfather Isak. Aron seems to have been a very avoidant and distant person. What I know is that during the war the family was sent to a small city, and nobody talked about it. I also know about the labour corps: “During the war as Bulgaria allied with Nazi Germany Jewish men were drafted en-masse in the labour corps.”

Secrecy in Family History & How it Affects Us

A big piece of the puzzle both according to the It Didn’t Start with You book and my own understanding, is how keeping secrets in the family affects us. Both outright keeping secrets, and avoding or not mentioning certain people in the family, can have a huge impact on our current life, according to this reading of transgenerational trauma. 

Nobody in my family has talked about how Jews were treated back then, but I do believe that part of my own point of view involves this inherited perspective. In particular, of being different and in danger of being prosecuted from crowds. Thus, key remains being able to talk, or what therapy and self-therapy are much about.

Healing sentences and healing rituals - trauma worksheets

Healing Sentences & Healing Rituals Worksheets

Mark Wollyn’s book then guides you through the healing journey by helping you find a healing sentence and healing rituals that override the transgenerational trauma.

Click on the image to see the printable worksheets.

Find my worksheets for healing generational trauma in my Etsy shop, alongside other printable trauma therapy tools.

Generational Trauma Worksheets: Overview

What Printable Pages to Expect with This Digital Download

Trauma Workbook It DIdn't Start With You CBT Journal for Transgenerational Trauma Therapy

Featured Exercises in the Worksheets

Exercises and Generational Trauma Infographics

It Didn’t Start With You is filled with both exercises and useful infographics to convey Mark Wollyn’s ideas.

Some of the infographics include:


  • The four unconscious themes that interrupt the flow of life
  • Visualizing your mother and her history
  • The four tools of the Core Language Map
  • Sensing the Flow of Life

The transgenerational trauma worksheets include absolutely all exercises from the book:

  • Visualizing your Mother exercise
  • The Four Tools of the Core Language Map
  • Constructing the core language map
  • Investigating your core complaint
  • Ten questions that generate core language
  • Describe your mother, father and close friend
  • My worst fear – identifying your core sentence
  • The Core Trauma
  • Genogram
  • Making peace with your family history
  • Healing Sentences & Healing Rituals


Trauma Workbook or Self Therapy Digital Printable It Didnt Start - Preview

Healing Transgenerational Trauma

See Etsy’s trauma worksheets product for more information

Other Self-Therapy Resources

So if you’re interested in self-therapy and trauma-healing, you can check out my other self-therapy resources.