I wrote this as a prologue to the Greek version of Easy Ego State Interventions and realized that it will make a good post:
I have been looking through the lenses of ego state therapies since 1981. During that year, my first out of graduate school, I took a course in Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis and learned to identify the “Parent”, “Child”, and “Adult” parts of myself and my clients. It was useful to notice when I, and other people, were coming from our kid states, our introjected parent states, or our chosen, skilled, present-oriented part of self.
In the same year, I read and took classes in various hypnotic techniques, and learned my most used ego state intervention: “Go inside, and find that part of you that (1) having that feeling/ (2) having that belief and/or (3) can tell you when in your life that belief/feeling started.”
My consultant, Thom Negri, gave our group the experience of finding our own inner children, and promising to care for and protect them. I’ve used this intervention with nearly every client, and learned new twists from April Steele and others, which I continue to use.
Before I learned EMDR, in 1993, ego state therapy was my best tool for healing trauma. I would direct clients to compare their present-day safe selves with their past stuck-in-danger selves, and to rescue the endangered younger selves. After I learned EMDR, I continued to interweave ego state interventions with the new therapy. I, and many others, found that the more dissociation a client had, the more necessary ego state interventions were for both preparation and interventions. With some unstable clients, straight-forward ego state interventions are still the treatment of choice.
In 1988, I started working with my first client with dissociative identity disorder (DID). She had been ritually abused and had at least thirty parts, many of which had no awareness of each other, or the present day. I read every book, took every local training, and started spending more on clinical consultation than I ever collected from that client. Learning how to work with her dissociation informed my ego state work with everyone else. I began to see the “parts” in borderline personality disorder and other attachment-challenged clients. I became more adept at getting all clients to talk to their parts. And, of course, I learned just how brilliantly complicated work with a DID client could be.
In 2006, when van der Hart, Nijenhuis, and Steele’s The Haunted Self, was published, I got a lovely roadmap for perceiving and healing trauma and dissociation. A more accessible book, Treating Trauma-Related Dissociation, by Steele, Boon, and van der Hart, came out in 2017, and is now the bible for working with DID clients.
I’m grateful to be providing this work to therapists in Greece. Ego state therapy can be of use to nearly every client. Seeing and treating people through the “parts” lens is often transformational. Intractable problems can melt away when therapists see the stuck child parts in the dysfunctional adult. I hope you find this work as useful as I have.