Ego State Therapy

Ego State Therapy 

Ego State Theory (EST) is attributable to John G. Watkins, who came upon the concept of ego states from Federn (1952) and Weiss (1960), as did Berne (1961) in formulating his transactional analysis. It is extremely popular in Europe and the US, and it is only since Dr Gordon Emmerson, a world authority on Ego State Therapy, started to develop it here in Australia, that it has started become recognized as an extremely effective therapy.

The personality is composed of separate mood states and are called Ego States. Medical and psychological problems can result from Ego States harboring pain, trauma, anger or frustration and expressing it inappropriately. Indecision is a result of two Ego State wanting different things. (Emmerson, 2001)

We are made up of many different states and change states continually depending on what we are doing or experiencing. Some examples of different states could be: confident, insecure, focussed, sensitive, angry, assertive, studious, playful, carefree, responsible, guilty, hurt, etc.

Each state has particular feelings, emotions and behaviours associated with them - you can think of them as a neural pathway or network. For example, if you are in a positive frame of mind you won’t be so affected by a negative comment compared to when you are in an upset state.


If a state has experienced (or percieves to have experienced) an upsetting time or event in the past, this state may be 'vaded' i.e. emotionally damaged. As a result, other states may come out to protect ... such as anger or addictive states, to escape or block such an experience.

When deeply relaxed it is possible to discover and work with individual parts, thus accessing and releasing deep seated issues or negative experiences, enabling unhelpful behaviours to just disappear.

In general Ego States begin their life in response to early childhood events. All ego states develop, grow and layer over the years, as they continue to cope with particular stimuli, or are reinforced by similar events and experiences.

Many coping mechanisms they employ are often helpful, but sometimes they  can be extremely unhelpful or even harmful, resulting in inappropriate behaviours or responses to particular circumstances.

Most people are aware that they have many parts and sometimes the parts can even be in conflict. We often talk about them individually such as "part of me wants to give up smoking but part of me still enjoys smoking”.

People seek therapy to change a behaviour because they are aware that a part of them is sabotaging their best efforts. EST, which is usually done in a state of relaxation - enables you to let go of the cause by accessing and communicating with the related part. By working with it directly it no longer needs to behave in that way – as there are far better responses to many situations.

During the session different parts will be identified, named and understood. The names that you give the different parts are whatever works for you. All names are fine - examples could include: Strong, Party Girl, Caring, Mary, Despondent, Happy, Power, Go-getter, Nervous Nellie, Dad, etc. Once labelled a list of positive traits can be attached to them, and these states can also be called on anytime outside hypnosis.

Ego State Therapy therefore provides an extremely powerful process for personal change that sometimes works in as little as just 1 session, although usually some followup sessions are recommended.

By resolving past experiences you can achieve inner peace, self awareness and improved self esteem.