If you’ve only seen therapy depicted on TV, Justus D’Addario from Renton Family Therapy says you’re getting short changed. On TV there’s usually a lot of talking: about feelings, talking about current struggles, and rehashing past traumas with the hopes of figuring out what’s wrong with, and ‘fixing’ the person.
Sometimes therapists (including D’Addario) use similar methods, but for the past decade he’s seen significant progress in many of his clients using a technique called Lifespan Integration Therapy. It’s a much more efficient process, and there’s a lot less talking.
“What we’ve learned is that the events of our lives get encoded into our bodies. By creating a concise list of the events of your life, putting that on a timeline, and moving through the visual memory, together we can prove to the body that time has passed,” D’Addario says.
“What we’re doing is called ‘fixing a time problem.’ There is nothing ‘wrong with you,’ but (for most if not all of us) bad things have happened and your needs were not met, and this feels wrong. We all get stuck and triggered by difficult events, but when you do the work you’re able to gently show your body that you can keep moving.”
This highlights the importance of present life safety to begin healing. If you lack physical, mental and emotional safety, you should seek other help first (Dial 911, 988).
You’re in charge
Lifespan Integration Therapy has its roots in Attachment, neuroscience and Somatic (body based) Therapy and has been used widely by therapists across North America and Europe for over two decades. D’Addario first trained in Lifespan Integration in 2011, and has stayed up to date on new developments from other researchers and practitioners around the world. He’s now certified as a Lifespan Integration Therapist and Consultant for other therapists, in addition to using the technique on interested clients.
“This isn’t the only way to do therapy, but it’s the most effective thing I have seen yet. My job is much more fulfilling when folks are actually moving toward their goals!” he smiles.
The goal is not to trigger a person’s trauma, but to gently show patients what’s happened to them in the past — and show them that their reactions and feelings make sense, and that they have more resources and options now.
“You’re in charge. You’re the expert in what’s happening inside you. As a therapist I’ll offer suggestions — the timeline structure is a suggestion — but it’s up to you to allow your experience in yourself,” D’Addario says. In this therapy you get a better sense of what feels true in the present, and what feels false. Ultimately your feelings are urging you toward your truth and fulfilment.
Addressing past trauma (whether it’s PTSD from a military tour of duty or more subtle relationship struggles) is going to bring up anger, sadness, grief and fear. In Lifespan Integration Therapy you’ll learn to let those emotions exist, show the mind and body where those emotions are coming from, and then help the body move from a fight-or-flight response to a calmer, safer state, by showing that these events and more have happened, and you are not alone dealing with it by yourself anymore.
“You end up integrating aspects of yourself that feel cut off from who you are today. Rather than thinking that there’s something wrong with you, you may realize that something wrong happened to you,” he says. “You wouldn’t walk around a NICU ward and blame the babies for being sick, but that’s what we do to ourselves all the time. When you learn this different way of thinking, it becomes easier to love yourself. Because the truth is you want love and can create love! People are awesome!”
ppl are scared they’ll discovered this horrible truth – the truth is actually wonderful – the truth is you’re good, ppl are good, but bad things happen