Many issues that bring clients to a therapist can be simplified to a common inability to resolve and grieve over past losses, and to go forward with one’s life. Both therapist and client puzzle and talk over how to get “un-stuck” and live fully. Effective modalities to deal with grief and loss and to go forward can include talk therapy and behavior therapies. These therapies often require many sessions to produce results that may or may not be long-lasting. Lifespan Integration is a newer body-base therapy that can bring resolution for many of those life issues where the client feels stuck, and effect a more coherent sense of self. Results are seen and felt within a few sessions, and repeated sessions continue to enhance earlier results. The changes appear long lasting as well. Lifespan Integration was developed in the past decade by two Seattle area therapists seeking ways to help clients move beyond past losses. They have trained therapists worldwide in Lifespan Integration. Many applications have been added to the basic therapy to deal with PTSD, relational issues, and attachment deficits. What does body-based mean? Memory is stored in the body as well as in the brain. Memories are accessed by using a timeline of a client’s life. The neural networks that contain those memories are connected, or integrated, to the client’s present experience. Repetitions of the timeline ease the present discomfort of painful memories, and integrate those uncomfortable memories into the rest of the client’s remembered life.
This is a therapy that uses the amazing plasticity — the ability to be changed and rearranged– – of our brains to create changes in current responses to life. In cognitive therapy modalities , the focus in on analyzing and puzzling through an issue to create understanding and then create a strategy for change. In Lifespan Integration, the dots get connected quickly, usually after several repetitions of the timeline.
The “dots” in a timeline make up the narrative of a person’s life. Each person has a life narrative, which in the early years is co-created with the person and their parents or caregivers. In the past century, families and the social groups that held those families were more stable and settled, and family, group, and individual narratives were co-created naturally, more so than today. Today the pace of change in our culture, along with divorce, single parenthood, and multiple relocations make connecting to one’s past, to others, and to a larger community difficult for many individuals. That in turn contributes towards increasing depression, anxiety, empty relationships, and numerous behaviors and addictions adopted to fill the internal void.
What does a therapist trained in Lifespan Integration do with a client? After determining which variation of this therapy is most appropriate for the client’s situation, the therapist takes a written timeline brought in by the client. This list contains memory cues from remembered incidents and times in the client’s life, such as the experience of “walking into Mrs. Statler’s second grade classroom at age 8” and “playing with Scratch my white kitty my daddy gave me when I was 4.” The therapist creates a mental “slide show,” touching briefly on each memory in a continuous sequence, finishing up at the present. The client “watches” their own life while sitting comfortably with eyes closed.
Remember using a Viewmaster toy when you were young? The Viewmaster is a good way to explain what happens with Lifespan Integration therapy. A circular cardboard disk of photo slides is inserted into the handheld viewer device, and a “story” is told as the viewer advances the photos by clicking a lever. In Lifespan Integration, the therapist “operates” the lever to move the client through the images which connect to feelings in the story of those pictures. The trained therapist can use the client’s timeline in several ways depending on the issues presented by the client.
Lifespan Integration helps with the recognition and removal of outmoded defensive systems and behaviors which the individual developed early in life to deal with difficult situations. A woman who learned to mentally defend herself against a controlling parent may not need to defend herself to the same extent against her husband’s irritability. Her present defense against her husband is automatic and not proportional in the adult relationship. Using Lifespan Integration, the therapist can target that defense behavior and co-create new appropriate adult strategies for this woman.
If you sense that this kind of therapy may help you with current impasses in your life, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Pace, Peggy. Lifespan Integration: Connecting Ego States Through Time. 2007