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. eCollection 2021 Sep.


Childhood trauma is a devastating reality with immense psychological impact to a child. Outcome research of therapy with trauma-exposed children is scarce and mostly focuses on cognitive and behavioural changes. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Lifespan Integration (LI) therapy purports to integrate traumatic experiences into a cohesive autobiographical narrative. In this research study, we investigate the efficacy of LI with children through the careful examination of one participant. We applied Robert Elliott's Hermeneutic Single Case Efficacy Research Design (HSCED; 2002, 2014), which uses quantitative and qualitative data to argue for and against therapy efficacy. The 12-year-old research participant received nine sessions of LI over 3 months, and data was collected before, throughout, and after therapy. The extent of the client's change over the course of therapy was investigated, as well as LI's contribution to the change, and what parts of LI were most helpful in bringing about change. Findings indicate that the client changed significantly over the course of therapy with lasting effects at follow-up, and that LI was substantially responsible for this change. Conclusions: The results provide evidence for LI as an important tool that mental health professionals can use to help trauma-exposed children.

Keywords: Case study; Evidence-based treatment; HSCED; Lifespan integration; Psychotherapy outcome research; Trauma-exposed children.