Lifespan Integration© (LI), a gentle, body-based method of therapy, uses memory recall and imagery to help people in treatment access their inner child in order to resolve repressed trauma and promote healing.
Mental health practitioners may offer LI therapy to help individuals overcome past trauma and address other mental and emotional health concerns. Many therapists who have received training in LI therapy promote its success in helping individuals achieve improved well-being.
Lifespan Integration, a relatively new modality of treatment, was developed in 2002 by Peggy Pace. The technique was initially established as a means to assist adults who had experienced childhood trauma. During her practice, however, Pace realized LI was able to address the effects of a wide range of mental and behavioral health concerns in people of all ages.
The approach drew public attention in 2003 when Pace released the first edition of her book Lifespan Integration: Connecting Ego States through Time. In 2004, she began teaching her approach to therapists in the United States and western Europe. Today, over 2000 mental health practitioners are trained in LI.
LI addresses emotional and psychological issues from the neural level and may therefore elicit effective results even when dealing with deep-rooted maladaptive thoughts and behaviors. However, the process is gentle, so therapeutic goals can be reached without re-traumatizing the person in therapy. The approach is based on the mind-body connection and relies on the innate ability of the mind and/or body to heal itself.
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A technique often used in LI therapy is the affect bridge. The therapist guides the person in therapy from the present back into the past in order to allow them to discover the memories associated with the symptoms or negative emotions they are currently experiencing. Once the memory of the underlying issue is found, the therapist will help the individual “go back” into the past in order to resolve the past issue. The therapist then helps the person in therapy return to the present using a timeline of visual scenes from the person’s life. The person in therapy is encouraged to draw on memories from each year of life to construct a timeline in which each "scene" relates to the issue addressed in therapy. This timeline of memories is used to provide proof of the passage of time since the traumatic incident, showing the person in therapy the ways in which aspects of life have changed. This “time traveling” may take place 2-8 times in a typical LI session.
Individuals who participate in traditional talk therapies may have found it difficult to cope with trauma or mental health concerns for a long time, sometimes years. However, some of those who try LI therapy report significant improvements after only one or two sessions. Practitioners of LI believe the therapy can help people rewire their neural systems in such a way as to encourage positive and constructive handling of events that may have previously resulted in a negative reaction. Doing so may help individuals avoid rehashing painful experiences repeatedly.
LI was originally developed to help adult survivors of childhood abuse achieve healing, from both the abuse and any chronic issues experienced as a result--anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, among others. However, this type of therapy has been shown to be effective in the treatment of a number of mental and behavioral health concerns, and many of those in treatment report feeling better about life overall, becoming more accepting of the self, and deriving greater success and enjoyment from relationships.
Mental health professionals can pursue Level 1 and Level 2 training in lifespan integration via approved LI workshops in the United States, Canada, and some European countries. Workshops are supervised by Lifespan Integration, LLC and are only available to those who have earned a graduate degree in a mental health field. Graduate students who are in the final year of their program may attend if they are working in a supervised counseling internship.
Level 1 training takes place over the course of two days, during which applicants learn the fundamentals of LI therapy. The session involves watching videos, viewing live demonstrations, and three practice sessions while in the roles of therapist, observer, and person in therapy. Practitioners who successfully complete level 1 training will be able to assist individuals with recent or childhood trauma, as well as anxiety, low self-esteem, and other issues associated with childhood abuse or neglect.
Level 2 training requires the successful completion of level 1. During this workshop applicants acquire a more in-depth understanding of neural integration and attachment. Videos and case examples will be used in this training session. At the end of level 2, clinicians will have the ability to address complex psychological issues such as attention deficit hyperactivity, dissociative identity, and bipolar II.
Though supporters of this approach claim the treatment is fast, effective, and economical (due to the minimal number of sessions required), few studies have been conducted to test its efficacy. As a result, there is limited empirical evidence supporting the approach. Due to the nature of the treatment and the techniques used, those individuals who are experiencing severe memory issues or other forms of cognitive decline may not benefit from this treatment modality.
- Daniel, J. (2009). Journey in time. Therapy Today, 20(5), 20-23
- Familton, M. (n.d.). Lifespan integration. Retrieved from http://www.bettermentalhealth.net/articles/Lifespan_Integration.pdf
- Lifespan Integration. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://lifespanintegration.com
- Pace, P. (2015). Lifespan Integration: Connecting Ego States through Time. Eirene Imprint.
- Sinclair, E. (n.d.). Trauma & PTSD: Lifespan integration. Retrieved from http://www.emilysinclaircounseling.com/TraumaPTSD.en.html