15. Lifespan Integration Training ............ .86
Case Studies in Lifespan Integration
Catherine Thorpe, MA
Peggy Pace developed Lifespan Integration in 2002. It is a therapy well described by its name - one that enables clients to integrate difficult experiences into their lives through the use of a timeline comprised of real memories from their lifespan. After the experience is integrated, it no longer controls a person's thoughts, feelings or actions; thus outdated defense mechanisms drop away. As a result, clients respond differently to their current problems. Multiple sessions using Lifespan Integration (LI) will produce multiple changes. The purpose of this book is to give an introductory overview of Lifespan Integration and share case studies highlighting the changes in clients who have experienced LI.
Like most therapies, a typical counseling session will begin with a client sharing how he or she is experiencing a certain problem. Early in the conversation, an LI therapist will ask the client to focus on the emotional and physical feelings associated with the distress. Following the LI protocol, the therapist will guide the client to remember a memory or previous experience where these same feelings were experienced in the body and emotions. The client will then be guided to 'integrate' the previous experience through repetitions of a visual timeline, comprised of real memories from the client's life. The wonder of LI follows. By integrating the real-life memory, clients permanently heal the previous hurt and spontaneously think, feel and act in a healthier way regarding their presenting problem. This may seem too good to be true, but LI therapists witness this process regularly.
My desire is to give therapists who are using Lifespan Integration, and all readers, practical knowledge about how LI has worked for clients. Case studies from my own clinical practice will give examples of the many ways and many issues in which Lifespan Integration has been used to transform people's lives. With LI, the outcomes are long lasting and quite often are quickly achieved. It is evident that patients get well using Lifespan Integration faster than with most other therapies. The case studies presented here are a testimony to this process.
Pace's book, Lifespan Integration: Connecting Ego States Through Time, describes the scientific brain research that supports her hypothesis that integration creates lasting emotional, mental and sometimes physical health. Her book explains supporting theory and the techniques for using Lifespan Integration. Contact information for Peggy Pace and her workshops may be found at the end of this book.
Before becoming a psychotherapist twenty-five years ago, Pace was a successful, respected chemist. Her science degree and early therapeutic training laid the foundation for her development of Lifespan Integration. In the first year in which she developed LI, Pace read everything she could find concerning brain development and the latest brain research. These thoughts and concepts are well summarized and documented in her book. For the purpose of understanding the case studies, I am presenting this non-scientific description of Lifespan Integration:
People, like trees, are cumulative. Trees develop a new ring for every year of life just as humans develop throughout the years by building upon every thought, feeling and experience which they have stored in the mind and body. As we grow older, we don't stop being one age when we become the next age nor do we lose the person we used to be when we become our newer, older selves.
By looking at a cross-section of a tree, we can see every ring that comprises its lifetime. Some rings are darker or larger than others depending on the environment and circumstances surrounding the tree during each of its years. The very center of the tree, like us, is quite small in the beginning. Throughout its lifetime it builds upon that core.
The analogy to us is clear. If we have had a bad ring or two in life, those rings still comprise who we are today. The very energy that gives us life is coming through them. Although we may not know it, the way we thought when those rings developed is still influencing our thinking today. Our sense of self is informed by the way we interpreted our experiences during the former years of life. By integrating those rings, which are sometimes called ego states, we can significantly change our lives. A more developed definition of ego states will follow later.
The more traumatic our life experiences are, the more it seems they are isolated inside the 'tree.' Like any foreign object taken into the body, a living organism will try to heal itself and dispel the painful intruder. If unable to dislodge it, the body will encapsulate and isolate the foreign object or traumatic memory so it does the least amount of damage to the rest of the body - our living tree.
People seem to hold trauma and difficult experiences in a similar way. When first experienced, we try to process our distress through dreams, constant thinking or talking about it, and other emotional outlets. If unable to discharge the impact, the emotional self finds a way to isolate a memory or hurtful event in order to protect the rest of the mind-body system from its negative impact. When this happens, the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder follow.
Lifespan Integration goes back to the isolated ego state or ring and 'shows' it that the negative experience has really passed. Ego states are convinced the 'bad thing' is over when they see a visual timeline of the client's life from the point of trauma to the present. It is hypothesized that repetitions of the timeline actually cause neural reconfiguration and integration which results in lasting emotional and behavioral change. Pace's book describes this further......