Collective & Transgenerational Trauma in Brazil

Lab Cycle Oct 2020 - July 2021 Report


Adriana Mascolli Fontes & Giselle Charbonnier


Rita Brown, Komala Amorim & Monica Alexandra Dominguez




Our intention for this Lab was:

  • To start building the foundation for a collective trauma exploration in Brazil by establishing a coherent collective vessel with the capacity to host a healing process.
  • To connect with the roots, narratives and experiences of collective traumas in Brazil, and to start compiling a database.
  • To identify and connect to the resources available in the field: nature, art, culture, etc.
  • To embed the witnessing capabilities from Thomas Hübl’s work & teachings into the collective vessel, including the capacity to experience as a felt sense the wounded body and subtle architecture of the land and its people. 
  • To bring to consciousness the impact of collective trauma in culture.


We gathered eight times monthly between October 2020 and July 2021, and offered four additional sessions to refine the capacities of Transparent Communication. We started with 17 participants in the first meeting and 12 participants stayed engaged until the closure of the lab.

We explored the following questions:

In the lab, we explored the following guiding questions:

  • What are core historical events/influences that inform collective trauma in Brazil?
  • How do collective and intergenerational trauma influence the construction of the Brazilian identity and shape the Brazilian cultural architecture?
  • How do collective and intergenerational trauma in Brazil influence/govern relationships and our ability to relate to each other:
    • amongst Brazilians of the different lineages – Native, Europeans, Africans, Asian, etc?
    • between Brazilians and other cultures – Hispanic, Latin American, Portuguese, African, other European, North American, etc.?
  • How does our use of language reflect and reinforce the consequences of these collective traumas?
  • How do collective and intergenerational trauma in Brazil show themselves in day to day movements (i.e. migration patterns, educational and health systems, responsibility for the local ecosystem)?
  • How do collective and intergenerational trauma show themselves in times of crisis (e.g. Covid-19, climate emergencies, social and environmental injustice movements)?
  • Can we collectively create a model for coherent we-spaces that can support the integration and healing of these traumas?

Stages of our process as a group:

1. Synchronising & Resourcing
At the beginning of the lab, we were presented with a proposed sequence that we aimed to follow as much as possible, with the exception that we wanted to spend more time in the beginning to connect with individual and collective resources, as well as with the natural resources of the land. Our first session was completely dedicated to connecting with such resources and building group coherence, and many of our meetings ended with Brazilian music and movement/dancing.

2. Meeting the Collective Trauma Landscape
From the second session on, we dedicated a considerable amount of time to introduce the basic theoretical framework and practices for self- regulation, co-regulation, and Transparent Communication. In the middle of the lab process, we launched four extra practice sessions (with voluntary participation) for practicing the principles of Transparent Communication.

3. Exploring Individual & Collective Conditioning
From the second session onwards, we tried to follow the proposed sequence by meeting the collective trauma landscape through meditations and sharing in triads and groups. We also started collecting material to prepare a historical timeline.From the moment we started observing the timeline, in the third session, activation and polarization erupted in the group in a number of ways, mostly related to the use of language, different perspectives on the narratives, and the outbreak of previously muted voices. As a result, we found ourselves moving back and forth between meeting the trauma landscape on the one hand, and further resourcing, group synchronisation, and orientation on the other.

4. Listening to Ancestral Roots & Voices from the Field
In our 5th session, we invited participants to connect to their ancestral roots and with the connection of their ancestors to the collective trauma and resources in Brazil. Following this session, we came back to observing the timeline and we met further polarization and activation, mainly around which narratives were brought more to the foreground by some participants and which ones were excluded. As facilitators, this was an extremely challenging moment during which to hold the group, particularly due to not yet having a solid template of group coherence to refer the group back to in these moments of intensity. During this process, one of the participants decided to leave the group due to not feeling safe.

5. Integrating & Restoring
In the next two sessions, we explored how collective and personal trauma patterns expressed themselves in the dynamics within our lab.

6. Transforming & Meta-learning
In the last session, we gave ample time for participants to express themselves. There were both acknowledgements of personal openings and learnings, as well as expressions of expectations not met. We also dedicated quality time to feel and acknowledge the seeds that were planted during the lab and for each participant to sense their personal calling to move this work forward.
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Moments of Challenge AND INSIGHTS

The most challenging aspects of the lab was to create a strong group coherence to hold the moments of intense energy. The group moved quickly from flat energy to intense eruptions. Despite introducing several tools for co-regulation and practicing transparent communication, during the moments of intense energy eruption, it was challenging to name those tools in the moment let alone to use them as a witnessing practice and learning resource. Instead, some participants stayed identified with those energies, and we facilitators felt challenged in our capacity to resource the group and name these dynamics in the moment. 


One of the biggest challenges we faced throughout the lab was that, as facilitators, we had different perspectives on how to hold the process, mainly with regard to two points:

  • How to balance the structure and approach that was offered by the Pocket Project with attuning with the field of this particular lab (following the suggested structure vs. following what we were noticing in the field). We also connected this tension to the trauma of colonization – of an external structure that felt imposed in the field.
  • How to balance following the voices from the field and “leading from the future”, the latter which would have required deeper work between us facilitators in order to find a common approach for enabling a higher wisdom to lead through us.

We acknowledged our different points of view, and tried to find our balance between them, but towards the end of the process it became clear to us that our different positions might have had an impact on the group coherence. We feel this dynamic was also a potential reflection of the field we were in, and it informed us about the landscape of trauma in Brazil – an apparent level of agreement and avoidance of naming conflicts.


  • Connecting with the timeline of collective trauma in Brazil through the felt senses (invited through a guided meditation) brought many openings in the group, and a deep sense of connection with the history and with the challenges currently faced.
  • The group expressing the desire to know each other better, exchange more, and learn from the competences of each one in the room. Although that was expressed in some moments as frustration, it also showed up as a deep longing for a community with which to do this deep work and to learn from each voice in this process.
  • Participants recognizing what the process meant for them individually, and how that informed all of us about the Brazilian trauma landscape we were exploring together. 



Working with Collective Trauma – a new and still largely unexplored discipline for us – made this the most challenging process we ever facilitated. We are nevertheless very grateful for the ripples that the lab is having in the form of emerging projects related to our exploration, as well as for the deep and rich learning this meant for both facilitators. We want to express this gratitude to our brave participants, trainees and the Pocket Project team, and especially to Thomas Hübl, who brought us together with his inspiration and guidance.

Our Lab Team

Adriana Mascolli Fontes

Adriana Mascolli Fontes

Giselle Charbonnier

Giselle Charbonnier

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