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Ego State Therapy Brisbane

    What is Ego State Therapy and how does it work?

    We all navigate many different roles and identities during our lives. In doing so we develop various ego states each containing particular beliefs, feeling states and behavioural responses designed to help us manage repetitive life circumstances.

    For example, being empathic and nurturing of one’s children’s, driven and ambitious in one’s career and risk taking in our choice of recreational activities may be three very different ego states providing adaptive patterned responses to different areas of our life. Each of us have our own distinctive set of ego states which fulfil important roles.

    When ego states are in harmony, an individual’s personality is considered whole and integrated and this will support a life that feels rich, productive and enjoyable. However experiences of trauma can cause ego states to become split off or fragmented from each other. When this occurs, we can find ourselves stuck in particular ways of responding that are unhelpful, unconscious and outside of our control. In such circumstances the wisdom, maturity and balance of our adult Self becomes inaccessible to us.

    For example, a survivor of child abuse or neglect might find that young traumatised ego states which functioned to support survival during childhood, cause the adult survivor to be stuck in victim roles that are no longer adaptive.

    Ego State Therapy (EST) is a psychodynamic approach which looks to identify these parts, understand their role in our psyche and integrate them into a coherent whole to optimise our functioning.

    Dan Siegel emphasised that integration is not homogenisation. It is the ability to notice, name and acknowledge the different parts of ourselves and to link them so that we are a coherent system able to flow adaptively in our interactions with the external world. In this way the healthy adult Self is no longer hijacked by traumatised ego states but rather takes a leadership role to support differentiation and linkage.

    What conditions can benefit from Ego State Therapy

    EST can be a very valuable intervention in the treatment of some trauma based mental health presentations including:

    • Complex Trauma
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Addictive behaviours including smoking, gambling, substance abuse, eating disorder
    • Dysfunctional relationships
    • Self worth and assertiveness

    What happens during a session?

    If maladaptive ego states are active, the assessment stage of therapy is when parts will usually be identified. An EST protocol will include:

    1. Psycho-education relating to how ego states developed in the context of traumatic events.
    2. Co-consciousness, time orientation, understanding of parts role, compassion and collaboration
    3. Acquisition of skills and abilities to support integration

    EMDR might then be combined with EST to process traumatic experiences.

    EST’s emotion focused ability to activate sub-cortical structures has the capacity to increase resilience and adaptivity of the personality. The outcome is an integrated “family of parts” that supports the resolution of trauma, strengthens inner resources and builds the adult Self capacity to work collaboratively with activated ego states so that the adult Self (not the fragmented ego states) is at the centre of daily functioning (Janina Fisher Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors 2017).

    Effectiveness of Ego State Therapy

    EST has been practiced for over 20 years and has proven to be a highly effective and durable treatment for complex psychodynamic problems. In particular, EST is cited in the literature for efficacy in the treatment of trauma particularly when dealing with features that complicate treatment including dissociation and fragmentation, cognitive and perceptual distortion and rigidification of personality and behaviour. Research studies have also demonstrated its effectiveness in the treatment of stress and self esteem and in combination with other specialist therapies in the treatment of addiction and eating disorders.


    Mind Wellness Therapy provides EMDR therapy and psychological expertise in the treatment of anxiety, PTSD, trauma, grief, stress management, depression and more.

    Contact us today or call us on 07 3374 2770

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    How we can help you at Mind Wellness Therapy.

    Mind Wellness Therapy provides Ego State Therapy and psychological expertise in the treatment of anxiety, PTSD, trauma, grief, stress management, depression and more.

    Contact us today or call us on 07 3374 2770.