Ego State Therapy is based on the concept that our personality is separated into different parts of a person or ego states. The goal of ego state therapy is to treat the parts or ego states that are dysfunctional and cause psychological or somatic symptoms.

What are ego states? What is ego state therapy?

Ego states are parts of our personality with its own roles, mental functions, emotions, and behaviours (Emmerson 2007).

The goal of ego state therapy is to locate ego states that harbour trauma, anger, and other negative emotions, and:

  • facilitate expression, comfort, and empowerment
  • to promote communication among different ego states
  • to help the patient to gain understanding of their ego states and help the client to better use them to their benefits.

How many ego states do we have?

It is estimated that the average person has around 5 to 15 different ego states that are used throughout a normal week. For example, a smoker has an ego state that enjoys smoking and and ego states that do not want to smoke.

When we switch from one ego state to another, we can usually remember what we were doing in the previous state, but the memory might not be complete. For example, if we sit for an exam in a anxious state we might not remember very well the things we learned in a relaxed state, but if we are able to switch into the state we studied in, we might recall a lot better.

Where do ego states come from?

A new ego state is created when a person experiences a trauma or frustration and has no ego state that can respond. Most ego states are created in childhood. An ego state might be created during a single trauma, for example a war trauma, a bad accident, or a rape. If related reminder events occur, the ego state will probably return. In a war veteran, the noise of gunfire may bring back the ego state that experienced a war trauma.

What are the benefits of ego state therapy?

  • Increase an understanding of personality
  • Have a clearer view how the personality is composed, and where most psychological problems originate
  • Connect the symptom to the causal stimulus
  • Facilitates empowerment
  • Understanding of their ego states allows the client to have a richer experience of living with the ability to be assertive, logical, fragile, caring, and angry at preferred times
  • When two parts of the personality cannot agree, the client might feel a kind of internal disturbance. Ego state therapy can change this disturbance into a state of respectful and cooperative acceptance of the different ego states and their roles.
  • Physical health might improve after

How do we use ego state therapy?

Below are some examples of issues for which we commonly used ego state therapy:


Emmerson G (2007) Ego State Therapy Crown House Publishing