Ego State Therapy
Ego State Therapy is a dynamic, elegant and yet powerful therapy that deals directly with the individual parts or states of which people consist. Sound strange and unusual, yes admittedly it does, until you stop and think about how we all talk about ourselves and what we do and do not like in terms of “parts of us”
Think of how you describe your work day, for example. Well part of me wanted to stay in bed this morning when the alarm went off, but part of me knew I had to get up and go to work, because I had so much to do. Oh and part of me wants to make sure I keep my job, because part of me needs the money and another part of me loves to go on holidays. See what I mean, we all talk in parts and refer to those parts.
Most of these parts, or ego states are formed in our developmental years, some can be formed in later years, if there has been a major event or trauma in one’s life, however most are formed before the age of twelve.
Basically there are four types of states, Normal, Vaded, Retro and Conflicted. In an ideal situation a person functions best having all normal functioning states, these are states that are balanced and operating in a positive manner for the emotional health and well-being of each individual person.
The first of the three types of states or parts, that can benefits most from the assistance of seeking therapy with an Ego State Therapist are Vaded States. A Vaded State is unable to perform it role and is holding onto an anxiety, which creates a level or fear or rejection. Vaded States are often the cause of many addictions, fears and panic disorders, they are insecure states and often reactive states within the personality that experience feelings of being out of control. These states need to be heeled in such a way that they feel safe, heard and validated, supported and most importantly loved.
Vaded states are identified when an emotion does not fit the situation. An example of this is, if you are talking to your friend about a warm sunny day down the beach, and you begin to feel overwhelmed with emotion, that is an indication that there is a state that is present and doesn’t fit the situation, so it will require some therapy on an emotional level. However if you were talking to your friend about say the recent passing of a loved one, and you began to cry, well that emotion you would suggest, does fit the situation, so therefore the state is operating in a normal manner.
The next type of state is a Retro State and these states that have adopted a behaviour or coping skill, often as a child, that no longer works or is appropriate for that person as an adult. An example of a Retro State could be a young boy, throwing himself on the floor of the supermarket when shopping and throwing a tantrum, because his mother would not allow him to have a lolly or a bag of chips or something similar. If the mother gave in to this tantrum, that state learns that behaviour works for him, so he may carry that behaviour through to adulthood and he may find himself in all types of trouble and often anger and rage, when that state is not getting what it wants. A prime example of this type of behaviour is road rage. In Ego State Therapy we negotiate with that state and have the state alter it’s role for the benefit of that person, and have another part take over the role of coming out when someone cuts them off whilst driving.
The other type of state is a Conflicted State, whilst it is a normal balance to have one ego state wishing to spend money and another wishing to save, they are considered Conflicted when the level of conflict between the two states rises to a level that the state develop a level of anxiousness or anxiety for that person. One clear way to identify a conflicted state is when a person makes a statement something like “I hate myself when I do that” , that is one state, saying it is not happy with the actions or behaviours of another internal state.
Everything we do or say, comes from a state, so stop right now and ask yourself, what state is it that has lead you to read this article this far? Is it the inquisitive state, the learning state, maybe a sceptical state? Whatever state it is, it is a great resource to learn your own internal states and know the roles and emotions associated with each state, that way you know where they are and what to call them, when you need there assistance.
Naturally, we can expand and delve a lot more in to understanding the theories behind the Ego States when we are working with our clients in a therapeutic setting, however you can start today, by identifying your own states, name them when they come out, maybe like Happy, Glad, Sad or Mad, notice the setting they come out in and identify the role and what they are doing for you at the time and how you feel on an emotional level. Beginning with getting to know your own internal map of your states, will assist you in identifying your own states that require heeling if they are impacting upon your life in a negative way.
If you would like assistance with Ego State Therapy, please call our centre on (03) 9327 2293 to book your face to face appointment (sorry no phone or Skype therapy available when working with Ego States) we currently have two therapists with Clinical Ego State Therapy qualifications to assist you. If you are not in our area, please feel free to contact us and we will direct you to a qualified therapist in your area.