Evolutionary Integrative Psychotherapy

Introduction to
Evolutionary Integrative Psychotherapy - EIP


EIP incorporates from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) the concept that negative thoughts or cognitions can both lead to emotional distress and also be quite distorted and inaccurate. In EIP these negative thoughts are grouped into complexes called negative ego states, which are structures of thoughts and emotions about the self in relation to others, that originated in childhood or adolescence and have persisted throughout life. Common examples would include defective-rejected, helpless-dependent, victimized, and many, many, others.

Screening and identifying negative ego states is also done with the ITSI, using the 'painful emotions' questions, which are designed to evoke negative ego states and then examine their thoughts and feelings about self and other, and the history and origins of these ego states. This socializes clients to another core assumption of psychotherapy, which is that our pasts shape and often determine who we are as adults.

After screening clients are first taught to identify and (with the therapist's help) label any frequent negative ego states that they experience, and then to trace the origins and history of that negative ego state. The structure of the negative ego state is also examined, differentiating between thoughts about the self and thoughts about the expected behavior of others toward the self.

Next they are taught to monitor themselves for the triggering of the negative ego state, and then to do reality testing about the various thoughts that compose the ego state once it has been triggered. They are taught that negative ego states are often emotional illusions, emotional states that feel very real but are not. Then they are taught refute the thoughts and control the impulses accompanying the ego state, and finally to problem solve based on the new, improved cognitions that replace the negative ego state.

The conceptualization and treatment of negative ego states can be thought of as a blend of CBT and object relations theory from psychoanalysis. The basic concept of pathogenic negative cognitions and several of the treatment techniques come from CBT, while the emphasis on history and origins, and also on self/other cognitive structures, comes from object relations theory, which comes from psychoanalysis.

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