The Story of the Identity Development Institute
In 2015, filmmaker Stephen Gyllenhaal was finishing work on the feature documentary, “In Utero”, a groundbreaking chronicle of early imprinting on a fetus in utero. This documentary was creating a buzz in the IoPT world and being tracked by both Franz Ruppert and Marta Thorsheim, founder of IoPT Norway. The movie echoed their findings through iD work, regarding the pre-birth experience.
Stephen was unaware of the Intention Method, IoPT, or Franz while he was wrapping up both the film and completion of a Master’s degree in Family Therapy. He was introduced to it shortly thereafter, when Christine Wong, an IoPT practitioner from Singapore, contacted and interviewed him in LA after the international release of In Utero. Fortuitously, she asked him if he would like to be the subject of an IoPT session. Stephen agreed, and experienced his first Intention Method self-encounter. As Stephen has noted – “This session changed my life.”
Stephen was next invited to film the IoPT International Training in January 2017, with Franz, which included Stephen’s second session (see edited video below). Here he began to seriously understand the methodology and profound world that opens up when working in iD sessions. He began collaborating and training with Franz and Marta in earnest.
October 2017 saw the birth of The Identity Development Institute at Stephen’s production office on Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles. (Franz had suggested renaming IoPT as Identity Development for its official North American debut.) Stephen started training iD facilitators in the U.S., so that more people could experience the Intention Method.
The word about iD spread by word of mouth, as the Institute held small weekly workshops in LA at various locations. The history of those humble and what felt like grass roots and experimental beginnings enlivened the richness of the experience and fostered true dedication in those first participants. They would become the first cohort to be trained as Identity Development facilitators and go on to become staff and faculty of “the Institute” as it is now affectionately known.
Coinciding closely with the graduation of the first batch of Institute facilitators came the COVID-19 pandemic. iD private sessions were already being done on Skype, so European and North American Institutes pivoted readily to Zoom. Thankfully, facilitator training and iD workshops sessions went online quickly and seamlessly, leading to the current fully on-line iteration of the Institute.
“Let’s take time…let’s take time. Don’t worry.”
- Whispered to Stephen by one of the resonators in the above session
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iD Sessions are not therapy, nor a substitute for therapy. But we are strong advocates of therapy and work closely with therapists and other certified practitioners.