#148 – Ego States Psychotherapy


Sarah Chana Radcliffe, M.Ed., C.Psych.Assoc. is a registered Psychologist in Ontario, Canada. Over the past 30 years, she has counseled thousands of parents, couples and individuals in her full-time private practice in Toronto, Canada. She practices Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples, Process Experiential Psychotherapy, Energy Psychology, EMDR and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for parents. She is the author of Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice. Mrs. Radcliffe conducts parenting classes, keynote lectures and workshops locally and internationally. Her articles and comments appear in numerous print and on-line journals including The New York Times, The Toronto Sun, and The National Post, She can be found on YouTube answering parenting queries and on iTunes with her own bi-weekly parenting podcast. Sarah Chana has been a guest on radio and television shows in the United States and Canada. Her web site http://www.parenting-advice.net offers education and practical advice to the international community on all aspects of parenting.

(Psychology podcast by David Van Nuys, Ph.D.)



  1. Rick Vail
    Posted April 27, 2008 at 3:53 am | Permalink

    Now Sarah is a remarkable woman, all my truth bells were ringing when I heard her share her methods of treating her clients. There are a couple of folks I would love to send her to get better but she is too far away and that is too bad. She’s not bad looking either maybe she will marry me LOL. Just kidding, great show great guest, great interview Dr. Dave.

    P.S. Just between me and the billions of folks on the internet I don’t think she realizes how remarkable she is.

  2. Posted April 28, 2008 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I was delighted to hear this rich interview with Sarah. As a listener from a while back, I’m remembering books used to be recommended, inspired by the interview. Of course Sarah’s work would be on that list … are there others?

    For example: E. Gendlin has so many books, my head spins when I try to choose just one or two … is there a good overview one? and maybe one with a practitioner’s guide/toolkit type approach?

    and on ego states therapy – where to start?

    IIt seems like there is a delicious and yet undefined connection between this work and the light trance “going back into the dream” method of dreamwork.

  3. Posted April 28, 2008 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Here are some books that can help one move into the ego-state healing realm:

    These first three are for therapists only and the remaining would be appropriate for therapists and all others interested in this type of growth –

    Healing the Divided Self – Clinical and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy for Post-traumatic and Dissociative Conditions by Maggie Phillips & Claire Frederick

    Ego States -Theory and Practice by John Watkins & Helen Watkins

    Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy by Eugene Gendlin

    Focusing by Eugene Gendlin

    The Power of Focusing by Ann Weiser Cornell (and see her web site and courses)

    Emotional Clearing by John Ruskan

    Extraordinary Healing by Marilyn Gordon (this is a personal favorite)

    Awakening the Mind by Anna Wise

    I also saw a book that I haven’t yet read, but I’ve ordered it because it looks really great – for therapists – called Healing the Heart of Trauma and Dissociation with EMDR and Ego State Therapy by Ed Forgash

    Hope that helps – I know it’s completely overwhelming. However, these are mostly practical and can be put to use right away and over time you will learn your own way of using all this info. Good luck!

    Sarah Chana

  4. Posted April 28, 2008 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    wow! such an honor to hear from you so quickly after my post!

    Look forward to hearing more from you 🙂

  5. Posted April 29, 2008 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    What an amazing interview!

    Sarah, I agree with Rick (above), you’re amazing! And I’ll be the first one to buy your book on your synthesis and practice of ego-states psychotherapy. I really want to encourage you to write it! Your communication skills are so great. I could really imagine the diagrams you depicted during the interview, and I could imagine your client’s process in the ‘baby seals’ example as if I were a witness.
    Such a rich and hope-filled process, marrying the strengths of the client’s creativity and natural self-healing capacity with purposeful and guided support from the therapist. Your methodology really resonated with me.

    This is the “Alex” who’s email was read at the very end of the podcast. Thanks Dr. Dave for your emails and our correspondence. Keep up the great great work, and thanks for another superb interview with an amazing person in the field. We’re so lucky to have your shows!


  6. Karen Nauman
    Posted September 6, 2008 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Wow… Dr. Dave, what a great interview.

    I am a full time EFT practitioner and Sarah’s simple yet mind blowing analogy that she draws out on a piece of paper for each client was amazing!.

    I love how she describes what is going on in our conscious and subconscious with the different internal parts that we all have. This brings my NLP/parts training to a whole new level.

    I hope to hear more shows on EFT. If you ever want a list of some of the top EFT practitioners to interview for your show… just let me know.

    Thanks for doing this great interview! Karen

  7. Karen Nauman
    Posted September 6, 2008 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    Oh Yes… just want to let folks know. If they’d like a free easy to follow tutorial on how to do EFT tapping they can click here:


    I realize Sarah R. did not talk very much about EFT in this interview but I know she uses it extensive in her practice.

    P.S. Also love the interview on PTSD with
    Rabbi Immanuel Yosef Legomsky!!!!

  8. Jasmine Bharathan
    Posted September 7, 2008 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Loved the interview.. Thank you!

    The simple analogy through the circle leading to the process Sarah went ahead to explain later on, was very interesting.

    In blending NLP processes, Mindfulness and Energy Therapies, I have often experienced with wonder and amazement how such a process touches deep parts and integrate them in wonderful ways. And as was pointed out, the adult part always “knows” what the wounded part needs. One has to just facilitate that space!

    Thank you very much..!

  9. Russ Cobb
    Posted June 14, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    What a great interview. I think Ms. Radcliffe’s diagram and description of the “parts” is really brilliant, and the dynamics involved in the wounding of the parts is really outstanding. Her grasp of this material is very impressive.

    However, I feel I need to play a little Devil’s Advocate here because her approach to the problems of the wounded parts seems just a little too neat and easy for me.

    For example, the idea of putting one’s inner critic in a box and sending it to outer space while it receives therapy…I’m sorry, but if that inner critic is built upon a set of really solid beliefs about the self (many of which aren’t even conscious) – and/or if it’s the result of someone having identified with and internalized an abusive or neglectful parent – I can’t imagine this strategy being very effective. You cannot simply tell a split-off, self-hating part of the self to be quiet and go away until it’s ready to fully integrate into the whole person as a healthy aspect of the self. I mean, you can tell it anything you want, but I doubt it’s going to obey. After all, it’s part of the resistance to change, why would it want to comply?

    Another thing I would question a little is her statement that “no amount of talking will help those wounded parts.” Isn’t talking about it one way of revealing those wounded parts and seeing what’s really at work? For example, if one’s unconscious material is leaking out in the form of dreams, isn’t talking about the dream content necessary to delve into the “frozen package?” Maybe I’m just taking her too literally.

    I’m also curious about the other techniques she mentions (EMDR, tapping, visualization etc.). Specifically, I’m curious to know if they are effective when the client doesn’t have a lot of specific memories of, say, a damaging relationship with a parent, or if there are a lot of very buried, unconscious conflicts at work.

    And how do the visualization techniques (like with the seal) deal with a situation where the part that is visualizing the wounded seal of the self turns out to be entirely hostile to it and is not willing to be kind, compassionate, healing or comforting to it?

    I guess I’m just a little bit skeptical that things like long-standing, unconscious conflicts and/or intense self-hatred can be resolved so easily and quickly.

    It seems to me that if what you’re up against is a set of life-long beliefs about yourself – and if there’s a whole set of layered resistance set up to keep those beliefs in place – that there may be a lot more work involved than Ms. Radcliffe seems to imply.

    In any case, great show, Dr. Dave.

  10. Posted June 22, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    In response to Russ Cobb’s concerns:
    He is correct that sending a critical part off to be healed is not always possible. Fortunately, there are other techniques that help to heal the critic and turn it into an ally, just as he suggests. I use several such techniques – Les Greenberg’s Self-Evaluative Split is one. In suggesting that “just talking” won’t accomplish deep healing, I am referring to the kind of therapy that talks “about” the problem. Talking that brings the wounded parts alive, to the surface, where they can be accessed and transformed, is very healing. Techniques like EMDR, EFT, TFT and so forth can indeed be utilized when the person has no specific memories. The technique may, in fact, elicit such memories, although this is not always the case. These energetic strategies can work extremely deeply – way beyond the conscious mind – even when the person is treating a vague issue like “feeling down” or “feeling somewhat anxious.” In some cases, the intervention will take the person to an awareness of the source of the problem and in other cases, there will be no conscious connection to the origin of the issue. However, in both cases, the healing can be profound. As for Mr. Cobb’s last concern, about discovering that a part is hostile and doesn’t want to help a wounded part – again, this is not a problem. At such a time, I would simply help the person access a healing part to do the work. This may be someone we “bring in” such as a character from a movie or book – some deeply compassionate, loving character who would know what to say and do for the wounded part. If the person was so damaged that such an intervention wasn’t possible, we would do a lot of work BEFORE trying to help wounded parts, to in fact, install parts that will be capable of helping when we need them. There is so much to say about therapeutic interventions and there was no way I could explain everything in a one-hour topic-focused interview. Mr. Cobb’s observations are right on; I hope I’ve answered a few of his concerns.
    Sarah Chana

  11. Russ Cobb
    Posted June 25, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Ms. Radcliffe,

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful response to my comment, and thanks for taking the time to provide some more information on the techniques and resources you use in your practice.

    It’s encouraging to know that there are therapists like yourself out there with such a wide variety of skills and depth of knowledge to help others. I especially appreciate your ideas about getting past the conscious mind in order to help people address their problems.

    Thanks again,
    Russ Cobb

  12. Gloria
    Posted July 18, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic interview! I have experienced, in hypnotherapy, the kind of therapeutic interventions that Sarah describes with the baby seal and I can attest to its effectiveness.

    I have also used EFT extensively on myself and I am continually amazed how unconscious material will spontaneously arise as I go through the tapping process. What seemed to be the issue in the beginning just somehow opens up and usually leads to what the real issue is. I have learned to not be too concerned about where I start with it, as it will go where it needs to.

    One thing I rarely hear talked about in regards to EFT is the self forgiveness aspect of it; in making the statement \’Even though… I deeply and profoundly love and accept myself,\’ one is doing deep self forgiveness and ultimately forgiveness is what healing is all about. Even in situations where forgiveness of others seems to be what is needed, when the layers are peeled away there is always some aspect of unforgiveness of the self that has to be addressed.

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