Ego State Therapy

By: Gordon Emmerson


Or purchase digital products from our partners:


Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 234mm x 156mm
Pages : 232
ISBN : 9781845900793
Format: Paperback
Published: September 2007

What lies in the dark unconscious expanse of our psyche?

What causes the words we hear in our mind?

What internal dynamic produces depression, panic attacks, and addiction?

How can learning what is inside bring back the love and wonder of childhood?

Mastering Ego State Therapy can foster an improved psychological and physical experience of life. Emmerson’s innovative book presents the theory and practice of working with ego states, helping to understand them, recognize and use them. Working directly with the state that needs assistance provides the shortest distance between the goal and the solution. The practical techniques help you to locate ego states in pain, trauma, anger, or frustration and facilitate expression, release, comfort, and empowerment.

Subjects covered include:

  • The nature of ego states
  • Inner strength
  • Processing trauma
  • Ego state mapping
  • Practical applications
  • Introjects
  • Non-hypnotic and hypnotic access
  • Ego state communication
  • Theoretical implications

Picture for author Gordon Emmerson

Gordon Emmerson

Professor Gordon Emmerson is an Honorary Fellow in the School of Psychology  at Victoria University, Melbourne. He is the author of the books Ego State Therapy, Advanced Techniques in Therapeutic Counseling, Healthy Parts Happy Self, Resource Therapy, and Resource Therapy Primer. He developed Resource Personality Theory and Therapy and has developed techniques for working with many psychological conditions using Resource Therapy and Ego State Therapy. Dr Emmerson is a registered psychologist and member of the Australian Psychological Society, and has published numerous refereed articles and has conducted and published experimental clinical research. He provides Foundation Training, a Clinical Qualification in Resource Therapy, Advanced Clinical Training in Resource Therapy, and Train the Trainer. Additional information is available found on the website below.


  1. Gordon Emmerson has entered the arena of counselling by successfully introducing Ego-state therapy in an informative, well structured format. The reader will be happy with Dr Emmerson’s presentation of the theory, the examples of counselling sessions utilising the techniques and the diversity of the application of this fascinating, effective and easy to apply therapy. I am fortunate to have this knowledge in my “grab bag of skills’ and I use it with my clients to enable them to identify and resolve the issue that causes their problem.

    Dr Gordon Emmerson’s new book contains a wealth of information that will help counsellors to build on their already well developed skills. Ego-state therapy enables the practitioner to assist the client in determining the cause of their problem, the root cause, and to effectively deal with it. The theory and examples are explicit and easy to adopt. Borrowing “energy’ from a negative part and giving that energy to a part that needs it is nothing short of brilliant. I’ve used Ego-state therapy with clients for a number of years and I feel sure that this valuable book will influence many to also use this most effective technique.

    Here is a book that counsellors and therapists of any modality will gravitate to. I am impressed with the basics let alone the Advanced Counselling Skills and Techniques. Ego-state therapy forms a large part of my counselling, hypnotherapy and NLP practice and now Gordon Emmerson has produced another outstanding book that is not just a follow on from his earlier book which is also filled with user friendly information. Dr Emmerson’s highly ethical and respectful approach is conveyed throughout the text. The theory and the examples contain all that is needed for the practitioner to model in order to assist a client to determine the cause of their problem and to deal with the issue causing the problem. His suggestion of borrowing “energy’ from a negative part and giving that energy to a part that needs it is nothing short of brilliant.

  2. Comprehensive, filled with theory, practical explanations and the important “how to”, the reviewer part of me urges you to check the book out ... and be prepared to be delighted.
  3. Emmerson's Ego State Therapy is the first book devoted to basic applications of Ego State Therapy to appear since the publication of John and Helen Watkins' Ego States: Theory and Therapy in 1997. As noted by John Watkins in the Foreword of this more recent book, Emmerson's experience has been drawn from his applications of this method with non-hospitalized private patients.

    In Chapter One the author describes and defines the personality energy manifestations that are known as ego states, identifies their qualities, and deals with the question of their origins. He recounts some of the history of the creation of Ego State Therapy and differentiates it from other polypsychic systems such as Gestalt Therapy and Transactional Analysis. Unlike the Watkins and many other ego state therapists, he clearly defines introjects as being distinctly different from other ego states. He also delineates “Inner Strength” as being different from other ego states and describes some of these differences.

    In ChapterTwo Emmerson introduces both non hypnotic and hypnotic methods for accessing ego states and supplies the reader with a rich roadmap for therapist interaction with ego states once they have been accessed. In so doing he enlivens the fundamentals of Ego State Therapy and maintains excellent focus on work with the internal family as a group from the inception of therapy. He places emphasis on the utilization of resistances and attempts to explain why some aspects of personality may be silent or choose not to speak. In this chapter he reviews his “Resistance Deepening” technique (Emmerson, 2000) and introduces his “Resistance Bridge” technique.

    The third chapter takes the reader into Emmerson's view of how to work therapeutically with ego-states. He emphasizes trauma as causative of ego-state pathology. He clearly expects to find and work with trauma in all of his clinical work with ego state pathologies, and he directs his readers to his methods for doing this. According to Emmerson, abreactions are relatively common when doing ego state work. Like the Watkins, he believes that sufficient abreaction will extinguish post-traumatic symptoms. This chapter is enriched by explanation, direction, and dialogue devoted to helping the therapist increase understanding and communication with and among ego-states. Emmerson is a strong advocate of the individual (the greater personality) developing an ongoing awareness of his/her ego-states, and proposes a growing awareness as a path to personal development.

    Chapter Four proposes to describe the domain of clinical applications of Ego State Therapy. In this chapter Emmerson describes ego state work in pain control, couples counseling, with depression and anger, panic attacks, and addictions. He gives detailed instructions for dealing with patients whose addictions and need for smoking cessation and diet control are ego-state driven. The population with which Emmerson is working is much like that described in Edelstein's (1981) portrayal in Trauma, Trance, and Transformation. Only three pages of this chapter are devoted to Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Thus, he defines the scope of his book as one of working with less disturbed patients and with relationship problems. The author's work with couples is detailed and should be very helpful to ego state therapists who are interested in extending their work into this field.

    Emmerson uses the fifth chapter to delineate the components of an Ego State Therapy session. He show's how the purpose of a session determines how it will proceed. He offers specific, detailed protocols for how to conduct sessions for trauma resolution, sessions to enhance internal communication among ego states, and sessions for the promotion of self-awareness and knowledge of strengths.

    In Chapter Six, “Final Thoughts,” the author addresses the roles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CDT) and Ego State Therapy in the psychotherapeutic armamentarium and concludes that Ego State Therapy focuses on causes of problems while at the same time, like CBT, it is brief. He also deals (albeit briefly) with the problem of memory and its validity or lack thereof and offers some thoughts about “nature versus nurture” in the formation of ego states. He concludes this book with his observation that Ego State Therapy has wide clinical applicability, that it has grown and evolved since its inception in the mid-1970s, and that it seems to be poised for development in several areas.

    Ego State Therapy is a book that will prove useful, especially to those who are starting in the field. It takes a clear and strong position that hypnosis training is essential for those who seek to do this work, and it offers much to any who wish to pursue an expansion of knowledge into Ego State Therapy. However, it does disappoint in the paucity of references offered (only 3 pages) and its failure to connect with and identify the abundant and creative ego state work that has taken place since the early 1980s by second and third generation ego state therapists.

    The only members of this group mentioned are Beahrs (1982), Gainer (1993), Frederick and McNeal (1993) whose article on Inner Strength with ego states was improperly referenced as having been published in 1999, and Newey (1986). There is a dearth of recent references. For example, although couples therapy is presented (and quite well), the seminal article by Phillips and Toothman (1998) was not cited. Absent also are references to the works of Frederick on trauma and dissociation (working with malevolent and silent ego states, terminal illness and transpersonal issues); Hartman (children and Ericksonian approaches, gender issues); McNeal (trauma and dissociation, dreams, and EMDR); Morton (conscious-unconscious complementarity and ideodynamic healing); and Phillips (ego-strengthening, dissociation, PTSD and body-based approaches, mind-body healing). Also absent are any references to books dealing with Ego State Therapy (other than the Watkins') published within the past ten years. The major problem with these deficiencies is that it deprives the reader of available and useful pathways to expand further their understanding of what is a rich and complex form of hypnotically facilitated psychotherapy to which many have contributed over the past twenty-five years. In a certain sense this book can be regarded as being like an ego state that has not been integrated within the greater family.

    Make no mistake about it, however. This is a good book. As a practical and helpful presentation of Ego State Therapy, Dr. Emmerson's book has much to offer. I have already recommended it, and will continue to do so. Ego State Therapy is quite readable, very sound, and eminently practical.


    Toothman, D., & Phillips, M. (1998). Coming together: Working with couples from an Ego-State perspective. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. 41(2), 174-190.
    Claire Frederick, M.D., Harvard Medical School. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis
    Oct 2003

  4. We have all experienced good teachers in our time ” someone who engages us, holds our attention and shares knowledge with us, filling us with enthusiasm for the subject. Gordon Emmerson is such a teacher. His practical approach of providing the theory of a technique, demonstrating the technique and then monitoring his students as they practice the technique is unsurpassed.

    Gordon has successfully transposed his teaching expertise into this book that has been described by a Professor as “a classic as an essential text.” A book that meets the needs of all readers, regardless of their level of expertise in Ego State Therapy.

    The author discusses the goals and benefits of Ego State Therapy and the nature, development and permanence of ego states. He includes the steps to be taken in numbered point form, offering a full explanation of each step and “demonstrates” with client/therapist dialogue. The only thing missing is for the author to be there when the student practices. At the end of the book, we are taken through 3 sessions; each step is fully explained and there is no holding back of information.

    I have fulsome praise for this most welcome text that gives valuable insight into Ego State Therapy and a practical approach to using the techniques in one's practice.
  5. A wonderful encapsulation of an approach to therapy that embraces the multi-level communication within our psychic system. Students of Erickson and Gilligan will find further clarification of familiar processes and principles of healing through self-relating. Gordon Emmerson is another welcome voice in the movement of therapy that works to embrace and respect the forces of the unconscious/ego relationship, enhancing understanding, expression and tutilage of “parts” rather than removing or dismissing problems states as irrational or “unresourceful”. Many scholared and experienced therapists believe that there are many psychotherapies but only very few core psychotherapeutic processes. If so, Emmerson has done much to elucidate the practice and application of one of these core processes that obeys the natural laws of psychotherapeutic recovery and growth. Drawn from experience, skilled technique and wide knowledge.
  6. I believe Gordon Emmerson's book to be a definitive and valuable resource for hypnotherapists.

    The opportunity to assist clients reach problem or symptom resolution through dialogue with Ego States is powerfully illustrated. Working with Ego States provides an opportunity to accomplish solution oriented outcomes in a powerful and creative way using our natural dissociative abilities.

    This is a practical and understandable guide to gaining access to inner resources that can be utilised for significant therapeutic gains.
  7. Mind, matter and life are the three distinct factors that constitute human beings with inconceivable possibilities, of which Ego forms a crucial part. Ego determines whether he becomes his own creator or destroyer. In him are found both evil and virtue, both criminal tendencies and saintly characteristics. He may either be a blessing or a curse to himself and others. Thus the good old saying, “some are wise and some are otherwise.” Ego State Therapy by Gordon Emmerson incorporates Hypnotherapy and presents innovative techniques of working with Ego States. The theories of Ego State and the practical methods illustrated in this book will enable the reader to master the therapy with ease and thus to harness his own resources. This book will be a very valuable addition to the subject of Ego State Therapy.
  8. Ego State Therapy is a rapid psychotherapeutic method which uses the recognized advantages of hypnosis to produce the lasting positive outcomes characteristic of psychoanalysis with intervention times rivaling cognitive-behavior therapy. Representing the new generation of Ego State Therapists, Dr. Emmerson casts the masterful development of the approach over the years by John G. Watkins and his associates into the first true textbook on Ego State Therapy that clearly, accurately and succinctly shows clinicians and advanced clinical psychology students how to use Ego State Therapy with their patients. Much more than a “how to do” approach, Dr. Emmerson is careful to keep the series of well developed and time proven specific interventions accurately grounded in the underlying theory. It will become a classic as an essential text for those psychologists and psychiatrists who recognize the importance of Ego State therapy to the needs of their clients.
  9. Ego State Therapy is based on the premise that our personality is not a homogenous whole, but is formed of separate parts. This idea in itself is ancient, you can find it inferred in writers from Aristotle to Shakespeare.

    More recently it is echoed in the Parts Therapy approach which has its roots in the work of Fritz Perls and was further developed by Gil Boyne, Charles Tebbetts and Roy Hunter. Systemic therapists talk of our -˜Inner Others', and Transactional Analysis has explored the term Ego States in a somewhat different way. The form of therapy that Emmerson describes derives from the work of John and Helen Watkins and is an eclectic mix with Hypnosis being a strong ingredient.

    A reader of this book would have a very clear idea of the theoretical underpinnings of this approach as well as a wide range of techniques available to them by the time they had finished with it. With my NLP background I am familiar with working with Parts (or Ego States) with techniques such as Visual Squash and the Core Transformation process, but this book gave me new ideas about how to extend the range of my interventions.

    The detail provided is in-depth without ever being turgid, and would allow most practitioners to begin using this approach with confidence, even the question techniques when working with Ego States is comprehensively covered.

    Instinctively I am against therapies that take one aspect of our humanity and claim it as the single route to cure. Emmerson avoids this, for all his obvious passion and commitment to Ego State therapy, but does offer a range of possibilities for working with a range of issues that are commonly brought to the consulting room.

    An intelligent, well-researched and well-written book, put it on your wish list, but don't leave it there for long.
  10. An interesting book, and definitely an interesting idea.

    The first part of the book details the theory behind Ego State Therapy which appears to be somewhat Freudian based. It's main idea is that the unconscious is a pessimistic and disconnected place and that ego states are formed through some type of childhood trauma.

    Chapter Two identifies the practical techniques for accessing ego states, both non-hypnotic and hypnotic. This part of the book shows how to locate and map ego states and gives general guidelines for talking to ego states.

    Chapters Three & Four show how to use and apply Ego State Therapy within a therapeutic environment. In particular Mr Emmerson applies Ego State Therapy to cases of pain control, depression & anger, panic attacks, addiction and PTSD.

    The last two chapters overview and conclude the authors thoughts on this subject hwover I am not convinced after reading this book of the validity of Ego State Therapy as a separate therapeutic intervention. I cannot see how it is really any different to Satir's “parts therapy” or some of the hypnotic interventions that I was taught on the NACHP course.

    As a therapist I am aware of the different conscious states that a client can access both inside and out of the therapy environment. And as an individual I am aware that I too change states depending on the environment I am in. After all, we are all slightly different people at home than we are when sitting in the therapy room (at least I hope we all are!), different again at a party than when giving a talk to a roomful of strangers. That's normal. So yes, we all have different states of mind or behaviour depending on the circumstances we are in but to make a therapy based solely on this I find hard to accept.

    It is nevertheless an interesting book to read.
  11. This book will he a very useful addition to any therapist's library and particularly beneficial to those new to the profession, in that it will give them an even greater grasp of the technique known to many as “Parts Therapy”.

    Although the book is, in essence, based on the Watkins' Ego State Therapy, the author has built on the technique and used innovative ways of expanding its use. Some of the case studies in' the book are fascinating and are used to enable the reader to more easily understand how the technique works and the uses it can be put to. I must confess that I had never thought of using the therapy in some of the ways that the author does and can see that its use could be expanded in any number of different directions, thus enabling the therapist to do brief therapy with many clients who might have been considered too difficult to treat quickly.

    Gordon Emmerson has drawn on some of the different therapies which use these techniques, including Transactional Analysis. Gestalt Therapy and Voice Dialogue Therapy and he illustrates how Ego Stale Therapy can be incorporated into and used alongside almost any discipline to very good effect.

    I found this book very enjoyable and easy to understand and I felt as if I'd added considerably to my tool-box after reading it.
  12. This is a clearly written book, well constructed around a subject that will have an instant, intuitive appeal for many people. It is always refreshing to read something that actually conforms to the tried and tested format of beginning, middle and end, even when one does not agree whole-heartedly with the content.

    “Ego state therapy”, says the author, “is based on the premise that personality is composed of several parts, rather than a homogeneous whole. any one expressing itself at a given moment.” These “states' are created at different points in our lives. They are coping mechanisms that develop in response to repeated experience - or a single incident or trauma - and are “a normal part of the healthy psyche”. The state that is conscious and overt at a given time is called the executive state.

    Needless to say, these states can become troublesome, leading to conflict and confusion in people's lives. For example, a child punished by their parent may develop a passive response to cope with the situation. This -˜withdrawn' state might then become an ego state that will return throughout life whenever the individual feels threatened by an authority figure.

    The person may have difficulty changing this response so therapy ” which uses hypnosis for maximum effect - is directed at communicating directly with the troubled ego state so a change can be made.

    Emmerson describes the process and underlying theory with great clarity all the time drawing freely on psychodynamic theory. This is why I said that I think the book will have an intuitive appeal for many people; the metaphor that we are being -˜run' by our defence mechanisms is a well established one in our society so it feels right when we read about it. The author is also duly authoritative: “The average person has five to 15 ego states that are used during the week”; “Ego state theory is more than a theory of therapy. It is also a theory of personality.” The emphatic style of writing will charm some therapists, and this, I think, is a serious down-side to the book.

    Exploring ideas around any of the 200 or so talking therapies we are exposed to in the UK makes interesting reading particularly when laid out as they are here. But the theories supporting ego state therapy and the clear methodology fall into the common trap of popular therapy how-to books, of separating the process from the people. Therapy is interactive and -˜success' due in large part to the quality of the interaction. Little space seems to be given here for the quality of the relationship or the uniqueness of individual clients; therapy becomes something we do to people rather than something we do with them.

    Emmerson says that he does not want to give recipes, but that is what he does. There are bullet pointed lists to reinforce the main points as well as transcripts to illustrate the process. The result is a book which, if taken too literally by inexperienced or unthinking therapists, simply becomes more dogma; a product with which the therapy market is already too well served. He also compares his approach with several major schools of thought, or, as he puts it “related therapies”: psychoanalysis, gestalt therapy, transactional analysis and cognitive behavioural therapy. In contrasting the latter he says that Ego State Therapy provides “a causal solution, not a coping strategy”. This is a continuation of the pro-psychoanalysis view that the newer approaches to therapy can only provide quick (and by implication superficial) solutions.

    The author is clearly committed to his viewpoint and, as the case studies and other examples show, his expertise and experience clearly benefit his clients. It has often been observed that experts fail to recognise their own level of expertise. Emmerson's over simplistic reliance on method may overlook the essential qualities which make his therapy effective: his own qualities as a human being. This book is interesting to read but should not be taken too literally. However -˜good' the technique, there is no substitute for a good therapist.
  13. An interesting and, in many ways, invigorating new look at Ego State Therapy has been presented by Dr. Gordon Emmerson of his new book.

    Dr. Emmerson takes the technique away from the usual neurosis therapies and/or personality dysfunctions and strides into the realm of developing innovative techniques with which to approach therapeutic dilemmas, experienced by the patient/client as ambivalence, feeling “stuck” in old patterns of behavior and interactions, processing intrusive traumatic experiences, and dealing with unwanted parts and aspects of the self.

    As with all interesting and innovative approaches, there is bound to be some dissent from those who are tied to the more traditional usages"still, I might say, very useful"but that is part of growth, in any field. This book is an invitation to explore, go out on a bit of a therapeutic limb, and open new possibilities for therapist and client alike.
  14. The fundamentals, and practical application of ego state therapy techniques have never been so easy to learn as with this book. Exceedingly clear, concise, and comprehensive, Ego State Therapy: Practice and Use, is a state-of-the-art protocol, which will acquaint academicians and clinicians with the dynamic, diverse, and constantly evolving field of ego state therapy. A well-researched and well-written book in which the epistomology of ego state therapy are explained and illustrated by means of detailed case

Write your own review