Do Genealogy & Military Researchers Need Therapy?

That is a loaded, triggering question isn’t it? Isn’t it time these communities start the conversation about the effects of research on us mentally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally as researchers and professionals?

I have been a genealogical researcher for more than 20 years. For a decade, I’ve studied every military branch and it’s paperwork for WWII, which resulted in the creation of numerous research guides, speaking programs, and more clients than I can count. I took ProGen and several other professional genealogy prep classes back in the day. I self-taught the 20th century military research because no one else was teaching this – no other books existed. Then in 2012 when I moved out and got divorced, I started down a spiritual path alongside the military research. Then I began to travel in Europe. I also wrote some gut wrenching, sad, life changing books about my family’s military members. Those broke me open. Helping clients write books and share their deeper stories has also broken me open.

Do you know none of the genealogy business groups, classes, webinars, or anything talk about these issues? None provide support on how we as professionals or researchers deal with this? Only recently through the DNA surprises people are getting are these topics I speak of below being even whispered. Yet no one is stepping forward to address the therapeutic side of what we do.

The combination of years of genealogy research for both myself and clients plus the military research plus explaining to clients the heavy stuff, the family secrets they didn’t know about (pregnancy during war time that was never disclosed), helping unravel family trauma, PTSD, inherited trauma, multiple issues that we all grow up with, broken homes, and on and on PLUS being a caregiver to my husband and dealing with loss, grief, anticipated grief, PTSD, etc., – as a result of the genealogy and/or military research I was doing for clients……resulted in both myself as a professional and my clients or anyone else who worked with me to have unresolved grief, triggers for PTSD and other issues, and many other things show up because we chose this work.

How Do I Know We Need Help?

In the last two years, the clients who hire me have changed. They require and sometimes demand the deeper healing – the deeper answers. Most are not satisfied with the facts, documents, answers to their questions. They require facilitation to process what we discover, especially when it turns their world upside down and makes them question who their father or mother was and who they are now that they know this information.

Many clients deal with caregiving issues, grief, loss, PTSD, inherited trauma, compassion fatigue, discovering their WWII mom had a baby out of wedlock the family didn’t know about, discovering a father wasn’t who they thought he was, talking about LGBTQI issues, rape, assault, they ask about ancestral lineage healing, they are adopted or through DNA discover things they weren’t prepared for…..it goes on and on. All of this comes up in the military and family history work I do with clients.

I have had to find resources in books, online classes, professionals, and articles, to name a few things I’ve used, to help both myself move through the issues of caregiving, the issues of professional compassion fatigue and PTSD from the work I do, and help my clients through these issues.

Am I a therapist? No. But I do not believe we need to be therapists to help guide clients and provide resources. I do believe we need to recognize when we should refer someone to a professional therapist/spiritual teacher/religious guide, etc. That is part of our responsibility as professional researchers and human beings. To help support and love each other.

So What’s the Next Step?

I am holding several professional researcher Zoom conversations to get the discussion started. I am also going to hold several general researcher – whether you have ever worked with a professional or not – conversations to learn more about what others experience as they do their own research.

I will send participants some questions with the Zoom link to prepare for the call. This will be a safe and respectful space to discuss the issues above and how they affect us and what we have done to help ourselves or our clients. All Zoom conversations will be recorded and I will use topics in resources I am creating around all these topics. Your participation will remain confidential.

Join the Conversation

The first conversation for professionals is Monday 18 November at 10 a.m. It is by invitation only and I have 2 spots left. If you would like to participate in this first Zoom or any others – please email me at [email protected] to tell me which one you want to participate in – Professional conversation or Researcher conversation.

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Learn how I can help you

Are you ready to learn the bigger picture of your family member’s military service? There are many ways we can help you with research – we offer full service history research, we can help with evaluating what you have to prepare a research plan for you to do some of it yourself, we can help you write the stories. Just email us at the address below to schedule a free phone consult to discuss options.

Want to travel in your service member’s footsteps? We are a firm with not only hands-on document experience but also travel experience and can connect you with a guide or suggest places to stay and visit. We are taking new clients and can help you find the answers and tell a deeper story about your family member. Email us at [email protected] to set up your free phone consultation today to discuss project options, fees, and time.

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