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A Brief History of Ego State Personality Theory

Ego State’sTheorist Paul Federn, practicing as a psychoanalyst in the 1900’s, was considered one of the earliest of the Viennese group to congregate around Sigmund Freud to advance the work of psychoanalysis. Federn worked closely with Freud and many of the other esteemed psychoanalysts of the time such as Adler; Sandor Ferenczi and Stekel.

Paul Federn was one of the few of the psychodynamic thinkers to establish theories and publish papers concerning Ego State Personality that actually differed from that of Freud. Federrrs phenomenologically based description of his Ego Psychology Theory held that personality was comprised of transient parts he called Ego States which contrasted greatly with Freud’s structured psychoanalytic concept (Erskine R G, 2002).

Whilst Federn (1953) did in fact define and create further theories regarding his premise of Ego States he did not expand on his theory to the point of actually creating a therapeutic methodology. During his work in psychoanalysis Federn analysed Edoardo Weiss (1957), whom in turn, passed on Federn’s theories to his own client John Watkins.

Watkins was a psychologist finishing his final training as a psychoanalyst with Weiss. John Watkins gained a great deal of workable therapeutic theory from Paul Federn’s hypothesis and saw the immense value of it (Watkins &Watkins,1997). Watkins, whilst working in conjunction with his wife Helen, developed their interest in Federn’s theories.Watkins and Watkins eventually consolidated their techniques into the practical groundwork that is currently recognised as Ego StateTherapy. John and Helen Watkins could quite rightly be viewed as the developing pioneers of Ego StateTherapy.


We want you to know about the establishment of Ego State Therapy International ( On the 25th November, 2011 in Heidelberg, Germany, a group of therapists highly committed to Ego State Therapy met to establish ESTI to honour the pioneering work of Prof John G. Watkins and Helen Watkins, the creators of Ego State Therapy. Participating countries all offer training courses, workshops, seminars as well as certification programmes .
Austria, Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States of America. Present were World leaders in this therapy with a common ideal of furthering the teaching of this therapy Worldwide. The Australasian contingent included World Ego State Authority, author and Professor, Dr Gordon Emmerson and Peter Richard-Herbert, the President of AESTA.