Ego-state therapy is a brief therapy developed by psychologist John G. Watkins and his wife Helen Watkins. It is used to analyse underlying personalities of the client in order to find the cause of psychological problems.
Ego-state Therapy is based on the premise that human personality is comprised of separate parts, rather than being an intrinsic whole. These parts or states, which all people have, hold their own emotion, power, weakness and other personal traits. When we say, "There's a part of me that wants to... (smoke, drink, overindulge etc.)" we are speaking about one of our ego states.
Our differing ego states enrich our sense of self and assist us in leading productive, enjoyable lives. However, when an ego state harbours pain or disturbance, unwanted emotional reactions and behaviours can form. For example: a person might find themselves continually reaching for alcohol, and while they rationally understand this behaviour to be unhealthy and imbalanced, they continue to reach for alcohol, as if it were out of their control. Often in such cases an ego state will be harbouring pain and using, in this case, alcohol to alleviate discomfort.
When applying Ego-state therapy, the hypnotherapist works directly with the ego state that is hurt to assist in the expression of the states needs and feelings. The hypnotherapist will often mediate between a hurt ego state and one that is more resilient and resourceful, to create a dialogue that can lead to resolution and a sense of balance within the whole self.
Ego-state therapy uses techniques that are commonly found in group and family therapy, but are instead applied to the individual client, to assist in the resolution of inner conflict.
Goals of Ego-state Therapy within Hypnotherapy:
Locate states harbouring anger, pain, trauma or frustration and facilitate expression, release, comfort and empowerment to these states.
Facilitate functional communication amongst ego states.
Help the client recognise their ego states so they may be better used to the client's advantage.