As those of you who have read my postings on this blog and also my web site pages know, I’m currently involved in a therapy modality called Ego State Therapy.  Since each human being is unique and works in therapy differently from any other human being, I can discuss Ego State Therapy as I am experiencing it, but I can’t speak for anyone else or describe anyone else’s experience of this modality.  In this posting, then, I will give you an idea as to what my experience with this therapy has been.  Here I use “has been” because I sense that soon I will be transitioning into a new part of my therapy, although I am still working to finish Ego State Therapy.  Please bear in mind as you read that I am most assuredly NOT a mental health professional, and my comments in this post are strictly based on what little general theory I have gleaned and on my own experience.

I entered therapy with my present psychologist a little over a year ago because my PTSD symptoms had become more distressing.  The flashbacks were coming more frequently and at odd and random times, and my problem with dissociation, derealization, and depersonalization was for some reason becoming more pronounced—in general, my symptoms were simply causing me more distress, and I knew I needed to deal with them. I wanted to get the symptoms out of my face so I could focus on more satisfying and more interesting aspects of life.  That was my goal as I began working in therapy this time.

My therapist and I decided upon Ego State Therapy because it is an effective method for preparing for later EMDR therapy, a modality that has been proven to be effective in alleviating PTSD symptoms.  Information on EMDR is available on the following web site:  www.emdr.com/   Preparation is necessary before engaging in EMDR, usually, because there must be a base or foundation of ego strength laid for EMDR.  Speaking solely from my own experience, I need to be more “together” before undertaking EMDR.  The state of not feeling “together” I call the “Humpty Dumpty” problem after the character in the old nursery rhyme:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

My goal in therapy this time is to do what I need to do to keep myself together and to reduce my PTSD symptoms as much as I can. My therapist is both experienced and highly competent at helping people with PTSD and trauma issues, so chances are that I’ll reach my goal this time.  Being realistic, I know that I may have some lingering PTSD symptoms that surface when I’m under stress, but even if I still have remnants of PTSD symptoms when I’m finished with therapy, I want to be able to manage them so they don’t disrupt my life as they have done in the past.  If I can do that, then I will consider my therapy a success.

Thus, through Ego State Therapy I have been laying a foundation for EMDR.  How, exactly, does Ego State Therapy help a person feel more together?  In general, the modality helps a person organize and make peace among all the various “parts” or “people” inside himself or herself.  What do I mean by “parts”?  Well, to some degree or another, we each have “people” inside us.  For example, I have a person or part inside me I call Cowboy.  She is the “me” who takes a pragmatic approach to life, isn’t afraid of a task, does what needs to be done, and then moves on to the next task. Cowboy helped me raise my daughter on my own and got me through graduate school. She does her work without straying from the trail. She has a task and a goal and rides a draft horse that plods steadily in the direction of the barn and the food trough.

In addition to Cowboy, I have a part inside me named Internal Therapist.  She isn’t much like Cowboy. She is less goal-driven and more relationship-oriented.  In addition, there is First Protector, the part that protects the child parts inside me.  There is also a pesky part named Constanza, a horse, who doesn’t like to obey rules and who tends to scoff at other parts and let them know that she is better than they are.  These are just a few of the parts I’m dealing with.  There are others, too.  The population in my psyche is diverse, as it probably is in most people’s psyches, but I have come a long way in getting the parts to work together and interact peaceably.  The result is that I feel more peaceful inside myself now, and I feel more “together” than I have felt in a long time.  I still have a bit farther to go with Ego State Therapy, but soon I will be ready for EMDR.

As I said earlier, each person is unique, and each person’s therapy style is unique.  Most people work on bringing peace to the world inside themselves while in the therapist’s room.  My natural inclination is to write, so I have written a dialogue in which my parts interact.  My dialogue is approaching 300 pages, and I’ve been working on it for a year.  When I sit down at my computer to work on my dialogue, I have no idea what will appear on the pages.  When I finish my writing each time, then I read what I have written.  In the reading, I understand what I have written and can see my progress.  When my therapist and I talked about the progress of my dialogue yesterday, we both could see that I had done exactly what I would have done if I had gone through the process in the usual way, working in the therapist’s office rather than writing the dialogue at home.

In other words, by progressing through Ego State Therapy in my own way, I am building the foundation I need when I embark on EMDR, but I’m also having fun.  I always wanted a horse and a cowboy outfit when I was a kid, but Santa never came through.  Now in addition to the other parts in my psyche, I have a whole stable of equine ego states and a huge wardrobe of cowboy outfits in a vast array of colors and styles.  And now that I am seventy-two years old, I can choose any horse I want, wear the cowboy outfit that happens to strike my fancy, and ride up the canyon at any time of the day or night.  And I don’t have a sore backside to show for my ride!  What more could anyone want?

I’ll be sorry when my dialogue is finished because I enjoy working on it.  However, I need to get on with therapy and finish EMDR so I can do other things with my life.  The EMDR part of my process is not something I look forward to because the goal of EMDR is to dissipate the energy associated with each of the major traumas I have experienced. This means that I will need to revisit some extremely distressing moments of my life. But with the support of my therapist and Cowboy, Internal Therapist, and all the other newly-discovered friends in my psyche, I’ll get through the EMDR part of therapy and emerge better able to enjoy the remaining years of my life. 

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