This is How Positive Change Happens…
Do you notice some internal conflict going on? If you do, that would be really normal.
Do you wonder how to resolve internal conflict? Or if it will ever resolve?
Maybe a part of you really wants to speak up more about something important to a loved one and, at the same time, another part of you says it’s a bad idea to do that so just continue to keep quiet about it and don’t rock the boat.
Or maybe a part of you wants to take the plunge and commit to a relationship more and, another part isn’t so sure about that so it holds back expressing more loving feelings and talk about the future.
These are just a couple of examples of the internal conflicts we can get into in ourselves sometimes. We get stuck and struggle in the conflict. We have painful inner battles going on. We experience various symptoms like anxiety, frustration, confusion, and sadness. Internal conflict can be tough to to work through. Once we acknowledge it though, we can get support to work through it. This is where an amazing intervention, or tool, called Ego State Therapy, or Parts Work, comes in (I prefer the term “Parts Work”).
In March 2016, I completed an intensive training in Ego State Therapy with one of the best experts on it, Dr. Sandra Paulsen. Her training included a lot of knowledge, tools, research, and most importantly, a lot of heart and respect for people and their struggles. Since my training with Dr. Paulsen, I feel inspired and excited to offer Parts Work to the courageous people I have the honour of working with. Of course, it’s always a choice whether or not someone I work with wants to include Parts Work in our work together. I’m delighted to be more skilled now to offer it as a stand-alone tool or in combination with the other tools I already offer.
Interested in learning more about Parts Work? Read this summary I compiled, feel free to contact me and ask me any questions about it, and maybe book in for an appointment with me to give it a try!
Ego States Therapy (or Parts Work)
Ego State Therapy was developed by Drs Jack and Helen Watkins. They found that giving a voice to disowned or dissociated aspects or misunderstood parts of the self facilitated resolution of long-standing internal conflicts. Dr. Sandra Paulsen applies and teaches an imaging/visualizing method called “Dissociative Table” (George Fraser’s) or “The Conference Room” to access ego states or different parts of the self.
Ego State Therapy, or Parts Work, involves identifying key parts of the self involved in internal dynamics related to resistance to change, inner conflict, self-sabotage, child-like behaviour, avoidance, criticalness, and/or many other presenting problems (e.g. issues like anxiety, depression, anger, shame, trusting others, and attachment).
Using a powerful method like Dissociative Table or The Conference Room, it’s possible to identify and work directly with the parts of the self (often young parts) that are mobilized around these long-standing issues. Parts Work honours those functions and their reason for being there, hears their concerns, needs, and fears, appreciates their survival function. When it makes sense to do so, help is offered to help them to update their “job description” to be more in current time and more on board with current life situations and goals. We don’t try to get of rid of parts, though they sometimes choose to blend or integrate with other parts as the work progresses.
If you’ve seen the popular animation film “Inside Out” (2015) it does a pretty good job of showing the fact that we have multiple parts inside of one person (e.g. The character Riley is made up of of the parts of joy, anger, sadness, and disgust as well as an “imaginary friend”).
Ego State Therapy or Parts Works can be done as a stand-alone intervention and/or as preparation for EMDR work (trauma processing).
During a session that includes Parts Work, I will often refer to “it sounds like part of you ____________ and a part of you _____________________. Did I get that right?”. I also will then say something like “I’d like to talk directly to the part that _______________. Would you like to share more?”. Once we’ve connected more with one part, then we may also work with another part and so on. Much clarification, insights, and integration can happen through this process. Also, because Parts Work can be very deep and powerful, I will check in with you throughout the session to help you to feel grounded, safe, and not too overwhelmed. The end of the session will include gently transitioning and a simple, calming closure exercise so you feel calm and stable before you go.
(Reference: “Looking Through the Eyes: EMDR and Ego State Therapy across the Dissociative Continuum”, Dr. Sandra Paulsen)
Check out this short clip from “Inside Out” for a funny example of parts of the self-system in conflict: