There are thousands of clinical therapists in the world.
However, of all the therapists in the world, only a few work with trauma and PTSD.
Of all the trauma therapists, only a few work with the areas of sexual abuse and severe trauma.
Of those therapists, only a few work with dissociative disorders, DID/MPD and DDNOS.
Of the DID therapists, only a very few work with issues relating to organized perpetrator groups.
And in that small subset of therapists, only a few work with more than two or three dissociative survivors at any one time.
And it is the rare therapist among that already vanishingly small number who stay in the field for more than a few years… or long enough to gain the experience they would need in order to be most helpful to the population of clients they serve.
So of all the thousands and thousands of therapists in the world, there are relatively very few who will have the kind of knowledge and experience that you are looking for when you need a specialist in the areas of trauma and dissociation.
Why do so many therapists refuse to work in this area when there is so much need?
And why do so many therapists leave the field after committing years of dedication to dissociative survivors?
It’s time to be honest.
First – please remember, I am one of the rare few who has stayed loyal and passionately dedicated to the fields of trauma and dissociation for more than 25 years. It is hard to find trauma therapists with that much commitment to the dissociative population.
I am on your side.
I will prove that over and over, and I am going to be honest with you.
Here it comes….
DID’ers can be a difficult population of people for therapists to manage and address properly and correctly.
(She didn’t just say that.)
(Oh yes, she did.)
Yep, I said it. I know — brave of me?? Or stupid of me ???
Please keep reading, and please!! No throwing of rotten tomatoes at me !!
Most of you know this already statement to be true already, even if you are surprised I would say that out loud. You already know how difficult it is — I’m sure you do.
Now please don’t get me wrong or misunderstand my purpose for saying that.
I promise you — my intention is not to hurt you. My motive is to teach you something really important. It’s important because there is a real and genuine problem with not enough mental health professionals being willing to work in this field. It creates a shortage, and leaves many, many survivors without healing resources. That’s not okay. We need more DID specialists out there in the world!
And remember this truth as well:
Many of you are absolutely wonderful – without question, the most incredible heroes and the very most courageous people I have ever met. Those of you in this category are absolute diamonds, and I really cannot say enough positive things about you. You all are truly inspirational, and I am honored to work beside you.
Okay, so moving forward with the point of this post.
Unfortunately, the DID survivors who are genuinely dedicated to their therapy and who work hard to achieve their deepest healing are all too often undermined by a few survivors who are willing to do anything but work on their healing. This dynamic can be especially visible in group settings, forum groups, and inpatient treatment centers.
Oh, these troubled survivors will SAY they are working in therapy…. They will CLAIM they are dedicated to their healing…. They go through the motions, and they spout all the right words. To a point. And then they don’t anymore.
Because in reality, this small number of survivors is more interested in hurting other people than they are in healing their own pain. They are more interested in destroying others than they are in helping themselves. They are willing to lie about anything or anyone just to get attention drawn to themselves. They are very destructive and they are very sick. What’s worse – they might even be doing this purposefully, to discredit you, your therapy process, and your healing journey.
And these destructive survivors could be costing you a lot more than you realize.
I am sure as a population, this is not pleasant to hear.
*** Don’t worry — there are mental health professionals, and alleged DID therapists, who most certainly give the mental health profession a bad name as well. That is absolutely true. But for now, we’ll save that giant can of messy worms for another day.
Please know that I am not saying this to all DID survivors.
This is not a confrontation to everyone.
Those of you who are genuinely dedicated to your healing know exactly what I am talking about – I’m sure – because you have most likely already witnessed your healing resources being used up, beat up, and exhausted by fellow survivors whose intentions were far from honorable. Maybe you are as tired of that happening as I am.
The survivors who do this are sabotaging those of you who are truly trying to heal.
This is because the therapeutic field gets completely burnt out by “the troubled ones” and ends up not having the time or energy or interest to work with you. Many talented therapists simply refuse to risk working with other survivors after they have had some bad experiences with these destructive survivors.
So… the troubled survivors who are undermining your therapists are doing harm to themselves, to the therapists, and to you. They are attacking, abusing, and destroying your therapeutic resources, leaving you with less. These “bad apples” can potentially give the whole dissociative population a bad name, and frankly, this kind of behavior should not be tolerated by any of us.
These are the people who need a lot of boundaries given to them, even from their peers and fellow survivors.
Let me put it this way. I don’t defend the lousy therapists out there in the world. If their approach to DID healing is atrocious, then it’s atrocious. Just them presenting themselves as a “mental health professional” doesn’t mean I have to agree with their poor approaches to DID therapy or stand on their side. No way Josè. Instead… I separate myself from working with folks like that. I don’t want to be associated with them in any way.
My loyalty stays with whoever works for healthy, genuine, safe healing.
And that’s what I’m encouraging you to consider as well.
If we want mental health professionals to stay working in the fields of trauma and dissociation, it is important to make that work worth it to them, and not an “exhausting nightmare” for them.
I am not saying that you have to feed the egos of the therapists, or provide support for them, or do any freaky weird boundary violations to keep your therapist happy. Any therapist needing these things from you is already crossing boundaries inappropriately. And of course, not all therapists are healthy or well-suited for working with trauma survivors anyway. Many therapists truly need to work elsewhere, and that is okay. There are plenty of other options for these clinicians.
Healthy therapists want you to make their work worth it by allowing them to genuinely do their job. We want you to address your issues, work on your healing, stay focused on your system, be honest with your feelings, etc. If you will do your job of focusing completely on your own healing, we as therapists will be thrilled with that.
Your genuine progress will be our reward.
That being said, what can you do to protect the relationship you have with your therapist in particular?
And how can you do your part to protect the resources available in the therapeutic community, so that therapists are more motivated to enter and remain in the field, and more survivors have the opportunity to work with truly skilled professionals?
How can you separate yourself from those survivors who are destructive?
How can you make sure you are helping the problem, and not creating the problem?
Here are some ideas of what NOT to do:
- Don’t lie to yourself and expect others to believe you.
- Don’t lie to your therapist. How can you heal if you are not honest in your sessions?
- Don’t lie about a therapist. Don’t believe lies about a therapist.
- Don’t gossip about a therapist. Don’t believe gossip about a therapist. Don’t spread unfounded false allegations. Don’t chase off or destroy therapeutic resources with false accusations.
- Don’t forget to examine your transference feelings, and recognize them as transference issues. Don’t forget how projection, transference, displacement, and amnesia can affect your thinking. Work openly and genuinely on these issues instead of blaming the therapist.
- Don’t attack a therapist because you are too afraid to address the real source of your anger.
- Don’t let therapists become the “bad guys” in your definition. Healthy therapists are your helpers. They are there to help with your healing. Learn quickly how to define the helpers from the hurters, and address that confusion as often as necessary.
- Don’t assume that all trauma survivors are automatically being honest with you (or themselves) when they are trashing a therapist. Remember, they may be in the “hate” cycle of the love-hate dynamic.
- Don’t assume that all trauma survivors are working for the betterment of the survivor community. Some so-called survivors are truly moles from the dark sides of the world, and are here to cause trouble in any way they can.
- Don’t let your jealousies and insecurities consume you and destroy your focus. If you want your therapist all to yourself, hire them to work 40 hrs per week at their full hourly rates. If that is not an option, be mature enough to know your therapist is going to have other clients.
Here are some ideas about what TO do:
- Be genuinely honest with your yourself. The more honest you are, the more healing you will accomplish.
- Be genuinely honest with your therapist. Your therapist can help best when they genuinely understand the issues.
- Remember that your healing is to be focused on you, your behavior, your feelings, your mistakes, your strengths, your weaknesses, etc. Your therapy is about you, so keep the topics focused on you, even when it is hard to look at yourself.
- Do your own internal system homework in between sessions. Your healing will progress as you put your own time and effort into it.
- Be kind, appreciative, thankful, and polite. This doesn’t mean to grovel or do penance. Just use normal social manners and social politeness.
- Remember that your therapist does not have to be your emotional (or physical) punching bag. If you are hitting too hard, redirect your anger towards your abusers, where it belongs.
- Give yourself adequate time to work through the complexities of your healing process. An experienced therapist will not rush you, and it is truly okay for you to take as much time to heal as you need.
- Separate yourself from other survivors who are troublemakers and instigators of negative drama. Just like school days, if you hang out with people causing harm, you’ll end up doing the same, or being tangled in their web. Their poor behavior will cost you. You can decide if that is worth it to you or not.
- Ignore the drama queens determined to cause trouble in front of you. If you refuse to buy into their antics, they will move on to other pastures. If you give drama precedence over your own healing, you will not be progressing in your own healing. Protect the entire dissociative community by supporting your therapeutic resources.
- Remember to think for yourself. All too often, survivors listen to any strong, authoritative voice that tells them what to do. If someone is telling you negative things about your therapist, set a boundary, stop, and re-evaluate all sides of your situation.
- Talk openly with your therapist about any concerns you have. Give yourself the chance to problem-solve any difficulties or conflicts that arise. Working through conflicts is an important part of your healing process, and it does not necessarily require a therapeutic rupture.
If you can truly apply these guidelines, you will be honoring your own healing.
You will also be showing respect to your individual therapist, protecting other ongoing therapeutic relationships, supporting the greater survivor community, and enhancing the larger therapeutic community.
Maybe most of you think that you are not actively involved in the destruction of the therapeutic resources, but if you support it, believe it, allow it to go on by your “friends”, etc, then you could be more involved than you realize.
You can either help to maintain effective therapeutic resources, or you can allow their destruction.
It’s a conscious decision that each one of you has to make.
Everyone, including the mental health professionals, has to do their part in protecting the few therapeutic resources available for dissociative survivors. We can choose to support the destructive people, or we can choose to walk away from them, and get along with the work for genuine healing.
Remember, if you genuinely focus on yourself and your own healing, then you are doing all you need to do.
You deserve peace, kindness, and compassion. Let’s keep those options available for you. And you. And you. And you.
I wish you the very best in your healing journey, with the very best therapist you can find.
Check out this looooong list made by DID Survivors:
Copyright © 2008-2018 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation