In the shelves of the bookshops, the books on psychogenealogy are multiplying. This therapy, which consists in exploring one's family past in order to understand one's present mental wellbeing, has experienced a real boom in recent years, which seems to have accelerated since the Covid crisis. Here is an update on the reasons for its popularity.
"Psychogenealogy is interested in the influence that the life of our ancestors has on our own trajectory," explains Elisabeth Horowitz, author of about fifteen books on the subject. Using a genosociogram, a kind of family tree, the therapist proposes to visualize the patient's family history by going back at least two or three generations. Psychogenealogy is based on the principle that the traumas and unspoken stories experienced by ancestors leave their mark on several generations in a physical or psychological way. According to transgenerational analysis, your love or professional difficulties could be explained by your great-uncle or great-grandmother's experience.
"Nowadays, you can find books on psychogenealogy in every bookstore," says Elisabeth Horowitz, whose first book on the subject was published in 2000. "At the time, it took me three or four years to get published, because no one wanted to talk about this subject. My book was finally published by Dervy. It became a best seller," continues the author of "Se libérer du destin familial" (free yourself from your ancestors destiny) .
More and more in vogue these last years, this therapy appeared in France after the publication in 1988 of the book Aïe mes aïeux(The Ancestor Syndrome) by Anne Ancelin. This book is still selling well, as Anna Pigeon, in charge of the human sciences department of the bookstore Le Failler in Rennes, confirms: "It is the best-selling book on psychogenealogy. For the last two or three years, there have been more publications on the subject, whether they are very technical or more practical. And this is in conjunction with a greater interest on the part of our customers for transgenerational issues," continues the bookseller, who has been in the business since 2015.
It is not only in bookstores that the success is confirmed. For some time now, training courses to become a psychogenealogist have been flourishing and meeting with growing success, reflecting the interest in this therapy. Since the arrival of Covid, we have quadrupled our training offer," says Simone Cordier, co-director of the Généapsy school, which offers training in psychogenealogy to therapists seeking to enhance their skills or to people wishing to retrain. We used to be a small structure that offered three trainings per year. Now we offer between ten and fifteen per year, with almost 300 students in training each year!
Same impression for Véronique Cézard, trainer at IFTD Family, the school she founded in 2007: "since the first confinement, many people were in demand for training, so we developed distance learning courses. We even created a more fun and enjoyable training platform with audio and video media. We are training many more people than two years ago".
How can we explain this attraction of therapy professionals towards psychogenealogy? If Simone Cordier quickly evokes the "CPF training account" as well as the "covid and the transition of training to distance learning", for the two trainers the reasons for this craze are to be found further on.
"Whereas ten years ago, no hypothesis was verified, now the fact that psychogenealogy can be based on scientific explanations attracts more people", underlines Véronique Cézard. A point on which the two psychogenealogy specialists agree: "these scientific discoveries have made us aware that it could be beneficial to visit the family and ancestral history to transform and digest what was not done by our ancestors", says Simone Cordier.
The trainer also evokes a spiritual attraction to psychogenealogy on the part of both professionals and the general public. Faced with "the decline of religion", "fears of the end of the world", "the separation between the young and the old", and the "loss of the transmission of a family history", some people need to be attached to a "kind of spirituality free of all the pseudo-traditional beliefs that they can no longer adhere to".
Faced with this need, Généapsy, founded more than twenty years ago, has developed new training courses such as the one on family constellations, which is "much awaited". "We wanted to distinguish between seriousness and delusion, we propose a methodology to train in these new forms of transgenerational analysis.
While Véronique Cézard also mentions the "normalization of the use of a psychologist" as one of the reasons for the boom in psychogenealogy, Simone Cordier evokes the weakening of the psychologist's position. Psychogenealogy then appears, for some, as the magic solution. But the trainer warns against the "marker" aspect of this therapy, which proposes to free oneself from cumbersome ancestors in "three spoonfuls".
Some reservations also remain on the academic side. Psychogenealogy is still not taught in psychology faculties. "These prejudices are regrettable", says Elisabeth Horowitz, who nevertheless points out that France is the leading country in the production of books on transgenerational studies. In the meantime, to find a serious professional, Simone Cordier gives some advice: "you have to look if the therapist is affiliated to a federation of peers, ask for the number of hours of training and the nature of the courses taken". These are elements to be taken into account but they do not replace the human aspect of the relationship.