Do you find yourself over-reacting because of emotions in specific situations? Do you know logically you’re responding inappropriately, yet you find yourself continuing to lose control? Even though you understand that you’re not acting the way you want, does the emotion of the situation seem to be taking over? Are you finding yourself behaving in age-inappropriate ways at times? If these seem to be your experience, Lifespan integration could be the right type of mental health therapy solution for you. We’re excited to offer this exciting new option to our clients at our Utah clinic, a cutting-edge treatment for trauma recovery.
This Treatment Can Work Quickly
One of the significant advantages we’ve seen with this therapy is how quickly it can help people suffering from the adverse effects of trauma and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Every person is going to have different results and a unique experience with this treatment. In general, we’ve found the process of going through the events of your life in this very visual way, outlining both the agonizing and mundane, can quickly help clients begin to heal from trauma.
See if this Treatment Option Is Right for You!
Why It Works
Lifespan Integration works for two key reasons: First, it can desensitize you to painful memories. Second, it helps the brain organize the memories in time and space.
It’s vital when you’ve experienced a destabilizing memory to place it accurately next to non-painful memories. As the brain learns how to manage these memories, understanding how your life has transpired, some events causing others, some episodes happening randomly, the mind and body heal themselves from emotionally tricky events.
As therapists have studied this treatment process, comparing it with other research on the brain, neurology, and what now is understood about how the body heals from trauma, it is becoming more evident why this modality is so emotionally healing for patients.
Lifespan Integration Summary
Peggy Pace published the first edition of her first book, Lifespan Integration: Connecting Ego States through Time, in 2003, building her theory on the same neuroscientific idea as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)—the concept that the mind and body will heal itself from trauma.
Pace designed this treatment to gradually help her patients process their traumatic memories without causing severe emotional pain during the clinical visits. Some treatments can be quite dysregulating while you experience them. If the therapist isn’t well trained and careful in how it uses the treatment, the therapy can actually cause more damage through its implementation. Pace’s goal was to prevent any re-traumatization during recovery through the design of this modality. Over time, therapists have found this methodology to be very gentle on the nervous system and a relatively safe treatment option.
How Lifespan Integration Therapy Works
When you work with a therapist trained in this treatment option at Healing Paths, we start by creating a detailed timeline of your life, putting together your memories into a visual narrative. We then regularly review this visualization in therapy sessions. This procedure is not only therapeutic; it also helps you discover memories you may be avoiding, which may be causing you psychological difficulty.
Seeing your life laid out visually will give you and your therapist unique insights into how your life has developed. It is uniquely reparative as you go through the repetition of visualization with someone trained to help you process these memories.
Lifespan Works Well in Conjunction with Other Therapy Treatment Methods
Planning time business concept or wasting minutes as a group of timepieces or clocks shaped as a human head as a health symbol for psychology or scheduling pressure and dementia or loss and aging as a 3D illustration.[/caption]
This therapy method works well in conjunction with traditional counseling and EMDR therapy. A skilled counselor trained in these modalities can integrate these different trauma treatment modalities, using what’s best suited for a patient at the moment, for that session. We will help you explore missing pieces in your timeline, filling in the gaps of your history.
We often see clients at our clinic who have PTSD who struggle to remember or communicate their past in complete and detailed ways. At Healing Paths, we firmly believe that having a clear understanding of your history is the key to being emotionally free in the present and the future.
Calming the Nervous System
Lifespan Integration is a therapeutic process that calms the nervous system. When you are in the company of a licensed therapist, and a traumatic memory has been safely drawn out and put in its proper place in time and space, it becomes less painful. The client can then describe it and deal with it in an emotionally healthy way.
If not appropriately processed, these disturbing memories can trigger us emotionally in an inopportune moment, at an inconvenient location. By understanding these memories, our clients take control of their lives. They can understand a traumatic event’s appropriate place and feel more emotional stability.
This dramatic episode may be meaningful, but our goal in Lifespan Integration therapy is to help you gain perspective and control over the event, preventing the painful memory from being destabilizing. We can train the brain and body to calmly respond when reminders of the event occur in our everyday environment.
Example of How Memory Cues Work
Here’s an example of how Lifespan Integration can work: After a car accident that dramatically disrupts his life, a man struggles to return back to going back to his employment, even though he’s physically recovered.
Surrounding this traumatic event of the car accident, he examines his memories with his therapist. Through Lifespan Integration treatment, the therapist lays out the critical memories the client has around the accident.
The patient recalls eating lunch at a restaurant for a work meeting before the accident. He also remembers speaking with his spouse on his cell phone in his car—These are everyday and typical events which shouldn’t be painful to recall, yet they are. Then there’s his car accident, which is an understandably agonizing memory. After this event, the client remembers being at the hospital and experiencing severe emotional and physical pain. He is surrounded by worried family members, followed by days of difficult rehabilitation. These are vivid memories and are also unusual episodes, which have affected him deeply on a personal level.
After the accident, the client tries returning to work. Because much of his work-life involves meeting with clients at restaurants for lunch, he finds it impossible to continue his former employment. He also cannot talk on the phone with his wife, an emotional trigger of the trauma. He struggles to drive in the car, another essential aspect of his occupation. He’s physically capable of these activities. He recognizes logically that going to a restaurant and speaking with his wife on a cell phone didn’t cause his accident. Yet emotionally, he’s having a hard time dealing with these everyday undertakings, which easily trigger emotions about the traumatic accident.
As he works with a therapist trained in Lifespan Integration, he can start to place these events in a timeline. The brain begins to make sense of the very upsetting series of experiences. His brain and body must emotionally process these episodes, allowing him to separate the normal from the abnormal. Eating at a restaurant doesn’t cause someone to get into a car accident. Sometimes it just happens to come in the process of time before a car accident. However, it may take walking through the narrative visually, repetitively, to help this man’s brain emotionally accept this reality and recover from the trauma.
This is a simplistic version of how visualizing a timeline can work. We’ll often work with 8-10 memory cues surrounding a traumatic event to help someone heal from a frightening experience. We’ll usually repeat this sequence 8-12 times through various therapy sessions to help a person get to the point where they can start to function in a meaningful way again in their life. Still, every person and every traumatic event will be different.
In time, you’ll start to feel less anxiety. You’ll experience less of a conditioned response around these unfortunate life experiences. These painful events can happen to many of us, but they don’t need to define every future step we take.
Understanding Time and How it Affects Anxiety
When a person has experienced trauma, they struggle to live in the present moment. The mind is continuously reliving past trauma and imagining potentially unsafe events in the future, fearing worst-case scenarios.
Connection to Mindfulness
There’s been a lot of research and exploration in the mental health community in recent years with mindfulness training. It’s become a very popular method of helping people feel less anxious. It can be a useful tool to help people struggling with anxiety manage their emotions. The mindfulness tradition helps people become more present and is a very effective treatment method for helping those who’ve been traumatized. We offer this kind of training at our Utah clinic.
However, if you’ve experienced early childhood, which has been left untreated for many years, or you’ve been psychologically affected through a dramatic episode as an adult, mindfulness alone may not be enough. Even the best mindfulness training on its own may not be enough to shake you free from the acute emotional pain of PTSD. This is where a therapeutic tool like Lifespan Integration with a licensed therapist can be most effective.
As trained counselors, we can treat anxiety, helping you manage your understanding of time using this revolutionary Lifespan Integration method. This therapy option allows us to halt haunting memories from the past while also teaching you how to reframe the future. This therapeutic model trains your brain and body to clearly understand that you are living in the present moment—essential in managing extreme and chronic anxiety or depression.
If you’ve tried other treatments with mixed results, consider consulting with a trained Lifespan Integration therapist at Healing Paths to see if this would be the right option to explore.
Developing the Unified Self and Relationships
Understanding your place in time is integral to developing a unified and accurate sense of the self. Understanding the authentic self gives you the freedom to move forward into the future, making decisions without shame, without being always emotionally triggered by the disruption of memories. You’ll feel more fully secure that you are aware of the present moment.
Helping Those with Addiction
At Healing Paths, we specialize in treating many types of behavioral addictions, including drug addiction. At the root of substance abuse and compulsive behaviors is often trauma. We can use this treatment to examine those dysfunctional patterns and help you establish more healthy life habits.
Sometimes there’s so much shame around an addictive behavior and the trauma that may have created it, it’s hard to know where to start. Lifespan Integration is such a gentle process, it can be a quick and useful place to start with people who found it hard to and forgive themselves for addictive behaviors. This treatment builds awareness around their addiction, relationships, and how they may have come to this pivotal place in their journey over time.
For example, we start with a baseline timeline, with some essential memories the client is comfortable sharing and remembering. As they start this process, it’s impressive how clients can swiftly begin to remember things they thought they’d forgotten. We can draw out and accept more painful events through Lifetime Integration, memories the person would prefer to avoid. We can use this method with people struggling with seemingly insurmountable shame, helping them begin to understand how their memories are core to their addictive behavior. They may start to make progress, where perhaps in the past, they’ve struggled to change destructive habits.
If someone you love has tried therapy for pornography addiction or substance abuse, and it seems like nothing has helped them in the past, consider this new and innovative solution.
Who Benefits the Most from this Type of Therapy?
People who have experienced abuse can benefit significantly from Lifespan Integration therapy. Clinicians first developed this methodology to help people struggling with early childhood trauma. Since its inception, therapists have branched out, using it to treat people suffering from mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
This model of therapy can also be useful in treating the effects of a dramatic trauma in adulthood, like a car accident, wartime trauma, violent assault, or rape, which may be causing the symptoms of PTSD and is undermining their normal daily activities.
This is not an appropriate treatment option for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as they may not receive much meaningful therapeutic benefit from it.
Lifespan Integration is a good treatment option for people who are logically aware that they react strongly and emotionally to life’s challenges. They may be struggling to overcome the effects of PTSD and need help to quell these powerful emotional reactions, which feel out of their control. Maybe they’ve tried EMDR and conventional counseling with some or marginal success, but they’re looking for something new.
This modality is useful for people who’ve experienced psychoanalysis for years, who are looking for a new treatment to uncover things that haven’t been explored. Many therapists who’ve gone to therapy for a long time are using this as a useful therapeutic process in their own recovery.
Results of this Treatment
People who’ve experienced Lifespan Integration therapy report acting in more age-appropriate ways. They feel added confidence in their daily lives and can develop stronger relationships with spouses, partners, and family members.
Contact our Utah clinic to see if this treatment method is right for your situation. We’d love to see if we can help.