Life Cycle Integration Therapy to Heal Your Inner Child
Why do we repeat the same behaviors over and over again even though we know they are bad for us? Why do we always end up in the same kind of relationships? There are no single answers to these questions, but what is certain is that they are a central axis for psychology. One of the ways to address it is the proposal of life cycle integration therapy. In this article, we’ll tell you you in detail what this type of therapy is all about.
About childhood and its influence on our development
Childhood is a key moment in the lives of all people. At this stage, we find ourselves in a state of almost total dependence, which we abandon – paradoxically, due to the influence of others – over time.
We learn to know ourselves, to develop our capabilities, and to create resources. That is why what we receive from our environment influences us and affects us greatly.
However, sometimes, the conditions around us are adverse, and childhood takes place in a complex environment; a lack of affection, situations of vulnerability, neglect, absence of adult referents, accidents, or traumatic situations are all more common than we may think.
To face and solve these problems, it’s possible to implement life cycle integration therapy. This is a therapeutic method that has been shown to help heal the body and mind without retraumatizing or exacerbating the suffering derived from the past. Let’s take a look at what it involves.Trauma experienced in childhood can lead to psychological disorders in adulthood. Therefore, it’s very important to address them.
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Life cycle integration therapy: What is it?
Life cycle integration therapy is a technique used to guide the patient towards past memories that may be sustaining and maintaining their current problems. Thus, the aim is to guide the patient to propose an alternative reading of the situation and giving new meaning to it. It was proposed by Peggy Pace in 2002.
It takes contributions from different theories, including advances in neuroscience. In her work, Pace proposes that working with memories will allow the modification of dysfunctional neuronal connections established in a traumatic situation.
One of the objectives of this type of therapy refers to neuronal integration. That is to say, it helps a person to reintegrate that painful experience that generates discomfort instead of using defenses and all his or her energy to try to avoid that situation.
In this line, it works very closely with emotions, with the possibility of recognizing them and taking charge of them, especially when they are manifested before certain scenes. For this reason, it’s also a therapy that gives the patient an active, leading, and essential role in resolving their conflict.
People can take a position and make decisions; they must be helped to recognize their resources. At the same time, the aim is for the patient to be able to let go of defensive behaviors, those developed in the face of his or her past experiences. In this way, they can choose which tools or decisions to make.
Finally, the author of this technique emphasizes that it is not retraumatizing. When this happens, the neural connections around the event are strengthened. On the contrary, the use of this therapy allows the development of resilience when faced with situation that generates discomfort.
How does life cycle integration therapy work?
The implementation of life cycle integration therapy can significantly improve the quality of life and mental health of those who suffer from a traumatic childhood event. But how is this achieved? Let’s take a simplified look at how it works.
Racconto of memories
This involves the reconstruction of the facts by appealing to past events and memories. It involves the construction of a timeline of one’s own life. For example, the person may be asked to mention some significant events for each year.
To achieve these objectives, the “birth protocol” technique is often used. With this technique, the client is asked to imagine himself or herself holding a baby in his or her arms. He/she is instructed to imagine talking to the baby, rocking him/her, and giving him/her affection.
In this way, the aim is for him/her to experience feelings of care. In addition, it aims to strengthen their self-esteem.
Coping and the creation of new resources
The first response we were able to give when faced with a painful situation was a defense, a natural reaction to a threat. This tends to remain crystallized, and we repeat it continuously. However, a hammer can be used to put in or pull out a nail, not to paint or draw.
By this, we mean that we must be able to look for appropriate responses to situations and not cling to just one. Thus, we impoverish our emotional world and we get stuck in a defensive mode.
The idea of applying this technique has to do with being able to integrate the experience and to look at it from another perspective. It’s about being able to change our current, dysfunctional responses for more functional responses and in tune with our wellbeing. In doing this, we rewrite our memory with other senses and other stories.
Through imagination and visualization, the technique called “repairing scenes from the past” is applied. With this, the therapist instructs the consultant to accompany the child in that difficult situation, to guide him or her, and be his or her support.
Thus, if an adult appeared yelling at the child for having broken a new toy in the scene, now he or she will appear in a different way: he can ask the child what happened and teach the child to be more careful, etcetera.Life-Cycle Integration Therapy aims to help heal a person’s inner child.
In which cases can Life-Cycle Integration Therapy be used?
Life-Cycle Integration Therapy is a resource that can be applied to a wide variety of psychological disorders. The most frequent are the following:
- Anxiety disorders
- Post-traumatic stress
- Eating disorders
- Somatic problems
- Dissociative disorders
- Attachment disorders
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Looking at the past from the present
Life cycle integration therapy allows us to think of people in a complete and complex way with a history and a trajectory that are part of their essence. The patient doesn’t wait for trauma to come “out of the blue”; he/she consciously seeks to work and reprocess memories to give them another meaning.
It’s an opportunity to empower themselves and become protagonists of a situation that has generated damage once and for all. It’s a way for them to rewrite their own lives.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Ruiz, E. D., & Valdivieso, C. U. (2002). Psicología del ciclo vital: hacia una visión comprehensiva de la vida humana. Revista Latinoamericana de psicología, 1(1), 17-27.
- Siegel, Daniel J. 1999. La Mente en Desarrollo: Cómo interactúan las Relaciones y el Cerebro para modelar nuestro ser. Bilbao, Desclee de Brower, 2007.
Rensch C, Kwee J, Rossen L, McDonald M. Lifespan Integration Therapy with Trauma-Exposed Children: a Hermeneutic Single Case Efficacy Study. J Child Adolesc Trauma. 2021 May 29;14(3):401-413. doi: 10.1007/s40653-021-00359-9. PMID: 34471457; PMCID: PMC8357884.
- Vera Poseck, Beatriz, & Carbelo Baquero, Begoña, & Vecina Jiménez, María Luisa (2006). La experiencia traumática desde la psicología positiva: resiliencia y crecimiento postraumático. Papeles del Psicólogo, 27(1),40-49.[fecha de Consulta 2 de Julio de 2022]. ISSN: 0214-7823. Disponible en: https://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=77827106