Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Few Words About Ego State Therapy and Healing

In November of 2012, I published the following post on my Word Press site (Healing Complex PTSD Symptoms), and I'm republishing it here.  It is relevant to my present situation in therapy because I have, for the most part, reduced my symptoms to the point where they don't interfere with my daily life as they once had done--I have gone from not wanting to leave my apartment for fear that my symptoms would be triggered to not being worried about triggers. Also, my discussion in this post may give you insight into how you can take control of your own PTSD symptoms and reduce them. 

Although presently my therapist and I are working with EMDR, I have spent over two years working with Ego State Therapy to get ready for the EMDR phase of my therapy.  When I began my work with this therapist in April of 2010, I told her that my goal was to get symptom relief through EMDR.  She told me that before she would work with EMDR, I needed to get ready and that part of getting ready involved working with my ego states to make them stronger and to bring about some inner harmony.  I was not happy with these words because I wanted to begin EMDR as soon as possible, get my symptoms reduced, and get the hell out of therapy!  After all, I'd been trying for 30 years to find relief, and I wanted to reach my goal before I got any older.  But I decided to trust my therapist, to trust that she knew what she was talking about.  Now, of course, I know that she did, indeed, speak the truth to me.  I am so happy that I hung in with her!  Together we are working with EMDR, and it is helping me immensely to defuse the trauma energy that has caused my symptoms--flashbacks, dissociative episodes, numbing, etc.. 

Finding relief from these symptoms has been my goal, and for all practical purposes, I am there most of the time.  Now I need to learn to adapt to this new state of mind.  But I'm sure I can do it.  If I've managed to reach the point where I am now, I can certainly find my way from here!  However, I still have a lot to learn, and I know that as long as I have my wits about me, the learning will never stop. 

Hope and peace to you . . .

As you are aware, Ego State Therapy as developed after the middle of the 1900s by such people as John and Helen Watkins, is a therapy in which the client identifies his or her ego states and then is helped by the therapist to bring these ego states into a state of harmony so they can work in the best interest of the client to improve the quality of his or her life.  ( This process is much like family therapy, but rather than work with members of a family, the therapist works with the “family” within the client and also teaches the client how to do this internal work on his own.  This therapy is often a precursor to EMDR therapy, but even when used without EMDR, Ego State Therapy can bring about amazing relief from C-PTSD and its symptoms.

How do I know this?  I’ve been engaged in Ego State Therapy for over 2 1/2 years now, and I can testify to its effectiveness.  Wow, can I ever!!  

In one of my recent posts  (November 28, 2012), I mentioned the spaciness and feeling of being “unsettled” that can creep up on me at odd times but primarily before my therapy appointments.  Last week, I mentioned to my therapist that this feeling is very uncomfortable, especially when it makes me feel disoriented.  She replied that she would help me learn how to control the sensations.  I was amazed!  I had no idea that controlling the spaciness and other odd sensations was within my power.  She did not elaborate on her offer to help me, and we ran out of time, so when I left her office, I did not know any more about the “how to” than I did when I entered her office.

However, I left my therapist’s office with one extremely important piece of information:  I have the power to control those psychic sensations that had been making me so uncomfortable!!   I had assumed that those feelings were beyond my control.  I had assumed that, like my liver and my kidneys, my psyche did its own thing on its own without any guidance from my conscious mind.  Boy, am I ever happy to know that my assumptions were incorrect!  Ever since my therapist enlightened me and I realized that I was in charge, I have had no episodes of spaciness and no peculiar feelings that have left me disoriented.  I am confident, now, that when/if I sense the condition beginning to come back, I can keep it at bay by recognizing and acknowledging its approach and negotiating within myself to keep it from coming on full force.  I’m sure this will be tested in the next few weeks, but I’m equally sure now that I can effectively keep myself clear-minded and fully able to function.

In addition to the above, I am now fully aware of my inner family and feel capable of negotiating with the various members whenever I feel the need to do so.  This is another amazing step for me.  I realize that anyone reading this might wonder how I could have been in therapy for several years without being aware that I can control what goes on inside my mind.  All I can say in reply is this: If you are in the throes of trying to heal C-PTSD,  you may understand.  Trauma damage, the major underlying component of C-PTSD, renders one’s internal “family” dysfunctional. 

Communication among the various parts of the psyche and communication between the “family members” and the person whose psyche they inhabit is often nonexistent.  Thus, despite the fact that I have been working for about two years to bring about harmony within myself, it’s taken me this long to reach the point where I feel as if that “family” and I inhabit the same body.  But now I do!  What an amazing feeling!  I actually feel “together” for the first time I can remember.  So this is what it feels like to be “normal”?  I must be healing!  Is that possible?  Is the end in sight? 
I’ve lived long enough to be skeptical, so I’m not jumping up and down and rejoicing and assuming that I’ve “made it.”  No, I know better than that!  But I do know that I feel together, as in the expression “Get it together.”  I also know that I feel empowered, at least I feel that I can manage myself.  I don’t want to manage anyone else.  Beyond those statements I will not go at this point.  It’s too soon.  I’m not planning to stop therapy right now, either.  I need to stay with it until I’ve adapted to my new self. 

Whew!  It’s been a long old haul, but I think daylight is a lot closer than it ever has been.  My short message is this:  If I can do it, you can do it.  With the help of a competent therapist, you, too, can heal.  I’m looking forward now to a downhill journey rather than the uphill battle I have fought in the past.  
In the spirit of the Advent and Christmas season, I ask you, if you are healing from C-PTSD, to pass on the Hope to others.  Here is a quote from Winston Churchill that may inspire you:

 “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill

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