It appears that several of the readers of this blog have gone through the wringer in terms of finding a good trauma therapist. When you are interviewing new therapists, in addition to clarifying that they have the skills and training it takes to provide proper treatment for your trauma issues, it is also important to ask about their approach to trauma work.
Make sure their views match or blend with your own views, otherwise there will be conflicts ahead.
There are a number of different approaches to trauma work – just as there are tons of different recipes for how to make a loaf of bread. It isn’t that one way is “THE” right way. You and/or the therapist may have very strong opinions for what works best, but the point that matters is if you agree with how your therapist approaches the issues with you.
For example, if someone said to me, “Help me get rid of all these pesky little parts that are irritating me. I want them totally gone and removed from my head.” Oh, well, you see… there are some therapists that would gladly approach therapy work with that goal in mind. I, on the other hand, would have a cow. A really big cow. If someone wanted me to help rid them of their insiders, I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it. I don’t agree with that approach, and just couldn’t be convinced to go there. In that case, this person and I would be a therapeutic mismatch. We would not be aiming for the same goal, so it would not be a good idea for us to work together.
Before you share very much of your personal system information, please take the time to interview the therapist very closely.
You must be VERY sure of the safety of the therapist before you disclose about yourself on those deep levels.
There are lots of great therapists out there. There are also lots of clowns claiming they are trauma specialists. They may not be dangerous people, but they can do a lot of harm by not actually knowing how to treat trauma-related issues.
Please be aware, there are also “double agents” out there – people who claim to be a helping person, but are actually working to support the dark side. Interview all therapists very very closely to make sure you find someone who is both safe and qualified.
When interviewing new therapists, some of the important areas to consider are:
- How many years of experience do you have in working with trauma disorders?
- How many dissociative survivors have you met?
- How many survivors with dissociative identity disorder have you treated (as the primary clinician)?
- What percentage of your practice has been filled by clients with trauma-related issues?
- Do you have a web-site, any books, articles, or outside referral sources that can confirm your experience?
- Where did you first learn about trauma and dissociation?
- Who have you studied with, and/or who mentored or supervised your early years of trauma work?
- What conferences and training programs have you attended?
- What have you done to build and develop your expertise in the trauma field?
- Where do you go for help if you have a clinical question?
- Do you have a valid mental health license, and can you verify that your license is in good standing?
- In your opinion, what are the most important aspects of trauma work?
- In your opinion, what do people need to do to process their trauma?
- In your opinion, how long does it take to work through trauma-related issues?
- What do you do if someone is stuck on a particular trauma-related issue?
- How do you manage issues related to self-injury?
- What are your office policies for emergency situations?
- What are your policies and guidelines for regular therapy sessions?
- If I need additional support between therapy sessions, what do you recommend?
- What do you think of “so and so’s” approach to therapy? (insert the names of your favorite trauma therapists or authors)
- What are your thoughts about ritualized abuse, cult abuse, and organized abuse?
Dissociative Specialty Questions:
- How do you define Dissociative Identity Disorder?
- In your words, what is involved in the treatment process for Dissociative Disorders?
- When do you approach trauma / memory work?
- In your opinion, when is a client not ready to do memory work?
- What are your beliefs / perspectives about who the alters are?
- Do you speak directly to insiders? Why, or why not?
- Do you prefer all communication to go directly through the host / adult / front part? Why, or why not?
- What kinds of homework will you expect my system to do outside of the therapy sessions?
- What are your beliefs and approaches to integration?
- How do you define “success” in terms of treatment goals for DID / MPD?
- Have you ever worked with mind control issues? If so, what do you do?
Of course, as you go through the interview process, be sure to ask clarifying questions about the answers you are being given. Any therapist that understands trauma disorders is going to understand why you need to check them out thoroughly. Needing time to build trust is obvious, and having the same theoretical foundation is critical.
These are not personal questions.
Keep your questions focused on the type of work that will happen in the therapeutic environment, and not on the therapist as a person.
Before you get emotionally attached to a therapist, please make sure that their approach fits with how you want to proceed with your own therapy.
Your healing journey belongs to you.
You get to decide how it will look, and what paths you will take. Working with a therapist that fits with what you want is critically important. Otherwise, you will waste a lot of precious healing time struggling with opposite or conflicting goals. The journey will go much smoother if you and your trusted therapist approach your healing process from the same wavelength.
Copyright © 2008-2017 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation