Here is it — your list of qualities found in an really good therapist. It’s a really loooooooooong list !! There are almost 150 descriptions of what an exceptional therapist looks like, and the kind of therapist that DID trauma survivors need. Very thorough! 🙂
Remember that discussion in the Our Complicated Selves area?
Well…. I’ve combined the answers provider by YOU, the readers of Discussing Dissociation in response to the question — What makes a good therapist?
Your responses have been put in alphabetical order, and very slightly edited only for consistency in reading presentation.
Now that the list is all together — do you still agree?
Descriptions of an exceptional DID therapist:
A good listener.
A good teacher.
Allows for communication outside of sessions. Emails, texts, phone. But have clear communication about what level of responses will be given. For example, be clear if they don’t have time to give in depth answers or dialogue.
Allows for longer sessions or double sessions.
Allows for parts to come out and speak as needed even if the host is not present.
Allows parts to safely say negative things without correcting them. I felt safe telling my T some of the darker emotions and feelings. She did not shame or try to change them which allowed me to process some stuff without shame.
Always checks who is driving home and gives time for grounding.
An experienced DID T is better than an inexperienced one. That said, I would take a good solid T who was a very good match for me but had less experience with DID over an experienced DID T who did not fit well with me.
Asks tough questions. Without pushing… those are the ones that we really need to be challenged by.
Be a compassionate and empathetic person. Our lives were devoid of compassion, understanding, reassurance, caring, genuine affection and the list goes on. My T needs to be someone who is sure enough of themselves that they are not afraid to show compassion and empathy for all of my parts.
Believes that DID is a real, credible disorder. It is my sincere belief, you cannot find healing with a therapist who does not believe in DID. You might need such a T as a stop-gap solution to help you in crisis while you look for someone better. But, they are not the T to stay with long term if you want to find healing.
Believes your alters are real and that they have an equal place in the therapeutic relationship. As a DID client, you cannot leave parts out in the waiting room. All parts must be welcomed into the session.
Believes your inside kids.
Be relaxed and confident in her own self and willing to (within appropriate boundaries) share a little about what makes her tick. It makes her more real to me. It might be a therapeutic relationship but it still has to be real.
Be solid in their own work and sense of self. I appreciate that we all have stuff going on and Ts are no different. But, ideally, Ts should have worked their deep stuff out already before trying to work with us. And, be professional enough to leave it at the door if something is happening in their lives. I am not saying that they cannot be human. I am just saying that there is only room for one client in the room (maybe especially when that client is many).
Be someone who genuinely wants to work with me.
Be strong enough to hear the hard things. Our stories are brutal. They are not easy to speak and they are not easy to hear. Just being willing to listen and say “I believe you” is incredibly impactful. I think that’s true for all of us.
Be willing to be flexible about times when you get “stuck” in therapy to problem solve and look for solutions.
Boundaries need to be established and maintained. As much as some of our alters may wish to push the boundaries or even rewrite the boundaries in the therapeutic relation, it is important that the T stands their ground and maintains these boundaries. As a DID client, you can be sure that our boundaries were viciously violated in the past to the point of us not knowing what boundaries are for ourselves. So, the T needs to model this behaviour and set clear boundaries. That way we will know if a boundary has been broken or not and can feel secure in understanding just what the boundaries are. I know that this can be a tricky one because we get so attached to our Ts that we want a boundary-free relationship with them 24/7. But, that is not good for a healthy relationship for the T or us. That does not mean that the T cannot be flexible in times of serious crisis for example, but, the bottom line for me is – boundaries are essential.
Can be moved by artistic expression. You can tell if someone feels it in their heart and bones or if they do not. Art is it’s own language. It doesn’t matter if it is music, textile arts, sculpture, painting, etc. They have to have a heart for such things because it is often how I can communicate. It’s how I can share my heart. If they don’t have some appreciation for it, some understanding of that language, they will not really understand me.
Checks in with host / main person before session ends.
Doesn’t bail. Ok. So we know a therapeutic relationship isn’t meant to last forever. But don’t bail on us. ESPECIALLY after you said you wouldn’t. Bad deal.
Doesn’t force work and trusts the system to know when it is time to start or stop talking or switch.
Doesn’t get tied up in a 50 minute hour and can fit sessions to how you need them.
Doesn’t give up on you.
Doesn’t hide sh*t. Be someone who will answer honestly when asked if something is wrong. We who are DID have big huge antennas so you might as well fess up.
Doesn’t leave you.
Doesn’t let personal bias (on religion, politics, etc) influence their care to their client.
Doesn’t make you regret trusting them with your stories.
Doesn’t play mind games.
Doesn’t try to make you feel bad for how hard you’re making their job.
Doesn’t try to persuade the client towards their point of view, for example: you need to get divorced, you must do this or that.
Doesn’t try to trick you.
Does what they say they will do.
Emotionally available to the client as they may have limited support in their current situation.
Ensures the person is fully present, grounded, and safe before walking out the door.
Every time I walk into my T’s office I do so with the intention to be real. To be honest and authentic. To let down the walls, take off my cloak, to simply be real and who I am. That requires a good fit and a lot of trust to allow someone to see me just as I am. Having someone with experience in DID and has loads of compassion and a strong confidence in herself and a basket full of options and things she can share and teach me….that combination is priceless.
Experienced in helping people with some very serious issues. It makes me feel safe.
Fearless. Okay, this is really a lot to ask of anyone but the T cannot be scared by what we are saying or how we may be saying it. I am not saying that sometimes we may catch them off guard, but they should be open and strong enough to hear our stories. I remember that my insiders were elated when we met our T because not only was she very book smart (had the solid academic training behind here) but she was street smart (i.e., we know that she could take anything that we said and that we could not hide the truth from her because she was smart enough to see through any deception that we might try to pull on her).
Forward thinking. I remember a really rough session and my T asked, “How are you going to take care of yourself after today? What will help you get through the weekend?” I had never thought of that. To plan to be gentle with myself and have concrete things in my “basket of safety nets.”
For where I am right now, I need, desperately, a T who understands DID.
Gently challenge me to look at something differently or to change something, explore places of resistance, or simply ask questions that are hard for me to answer because it’s just so blessed horrible. Her asking the tough question tells me that she’s willing and able to HEAR the tough stuff and that it is okay for me to open up and let the words out. I appreciate this.
Gives a lot of warning when taking time off work, and helps find extra supports during that time.
Gives fair warning about vacation times, holidays etc.
Gives short term goals or short term specific focus — I appreciate this! My T comes up with some pretty creative ideas. If I deviate from the weekly goal it really doesn’t matter, but it’s so incredibly helpful to have her say, “I’d like you to work on this….what do you think?” or “Do you have a focus for this week?” We work out what the focus will be together. That way I am not overwhelmed by trying to tackle everything all at once, nor floating about not making progress because I’m stuck or not trying new things. She gets specific. “Try this _____ (fill in the blank.) Notice if you feel resistance, how strong it is, how long it lasts, what the trigger might be. What emotions to you feel? Or the goal might be to create something or to read a book or simply to rest and be gentle with myself.
Gives warning time before session is about to end.
Gives you regularly scheduled times so you know when you get to talk again to them.
Has a head that can wrap around things we explain or can ask questions about what we are talking about.
Has a strong backbone, can take criticism and learn from mistakes.
Has a warm heart… and is prepared to give hugs.
Has clear expectations for the client.
Has different kinds of toys and stuffies. This was so huge to make all parts feel comfortable.
Has good energy (basically they make my parts feel comfortable so they can be free).
Has the ability to know when we just need space and time.
Have a solid grounding in the field (i.e., proper educational achievements and accreditation) and be willing to continually upgrade their professional understanding of DID, trauma, therapeutic techniques, etc. I have experienced Ts of all kinds of educational/training backgrounds. I am not saying that there is a single route to this end but there should be some academic/training background here.
Honest, even when things get tough.
Honest about the therapy process time frame.
Honest with clients in all things.
Keeps abreast in current research on what they treat.
Keeps a comforting office (items for child parts, blankets, lighting that is soft).
Keeps appointment times consistent (my OCD part hates change).
Keeps attention on body language – especially to catch switching so they can change their direction/type of questions and responses.
Keeps consistent appointments (at first I didn’t have this, and I’d constantly feel like she was going to abandon me or didn’t care about me when I had to keep asking for the day/time).
Keeps good therapy notes/goals for patient success.
Keeps your privacy.
Kindness, kindness, kindness with patience for the slower to trust parts. It is hard to feel safe so patience because sometimes it gets confusing.
Knows how to laugh and doesn’t have to be serious all the time.
Knows how to talk to your inside people in different ways that they need to be talked to, like talks to the kids like kids.
Lets you avoid eye contact if it triggers without shaming. I had times where I felt so sick to my stomach during sessions and too triggered to deal with someone looking at me. It was a lot of shame.
Lets you communicate with them through email or call if in crisis (within reasonable limits. I feel like this is a big gift of time they give but very needed).
Loves their “job” as a therapist.
Makes sure the patient is safe, and knows of resources available to them for emergencies.
Mindful of the needs of the various alters. Because our alters are of various ages, the T needs to be flexible and creative in their approach to flow with the needs of various alters, their ages, interests, feelings, traumas, etc. There is not a one size fits all solution to working with DID folks.
Most important thing is they are educated in trauma.
No expectation of quick healing or meeting specific goals on time. I feel like that stops progress because there is no guarantee what will come up. Again it can be very confusing when material comes up that is new or a part is more distant. Sometimes I don’t even understand until much later what we are processing.
Not afraid of the truth. All of it! Sometimes we just need to say the hard stuff and disbelief doesn’t fly. Be willing to hear the hard honest stuff without judgement or appall.
Not afraid to hug a client once in a while after a difficult session (I may not be able to accept it, but it would be a nice gesture).
NOT doing these bad traits: a loud noisy office, bright lights, assumptions about condition, too many compliments, too much guidance, constantly writing or looking at the time. not addressing the DID, lack of knowledge about trauma or rudeness.
Obeys HIPAA laws.
Offers candy for kids (I never told her how much this was appreciated) Probably not what makes a counselor good but I think it was nice.
Open to learning more about DID, and stays on top of new information.
Patient with all parts.
Picks up on body language. This helped me so much to become aware of how dissociated and physically numb I was.
Practices radical acceptance of all parts (even if some are un-likeable).
Practices self-care to prevent burn-out.
Prepares you for leaving therapy because if you switch or don’t know you are dissociated it is very dangerous to just leave a session.
Respects those who do not believe in traditional forgiveness. Let me decide who I wanted in my life including my own mother at the time. My T did not make me feel I had to feel anything I did not feel. I was allowed to not be punished for my anger. That is a big deal to me because it is not safe for all victims to forgive. Sometimes it can put you in a lot of danger. No one should force you to forgive people because there are those who will not stop harming you if given the chance. We know who is safe. Trust a counselor who trusts your system to know if someone deserves your forgiveness. Also no counselor should tell you it is needed to forgive to heal. We have a long road to travel in dealing with the harm done so no one knows what the end result will be. I could talk a lot about this because I have experienced feeling safe in forgiving and being harmed by those who saw opportunity in it to hurt me again. I trust only my feelings on it now.
Sense of humor and an ability to have a lightness of heart from time to time. Not at all talking about laughing at something, but that ability to smile and laugh and simply be lively.
Shows up when they say they will.
Someone who clearly likes doing the work she does. Not every day…no one does…but showing some appreciation and enthusiasm for what she does makes it more engaging for both of us
Someone who loves the natural world. The earth has a tone. It resonates and speaks its own language. All of it speaks from the stones on the lakeshore to gardens to the wildlife in our forests to the weather and the way the air smells before a storm. Moss under my feet. The way snow sounds different depending on the temperature. Fireflies. Starlight. Northern lights. Love of the natural world in one form or another helps the connection because my T gets that very strong part of me.
Specialist in childhood abuse.
Thinks out of the box for ways to help.
Treats child parts like children (I think this is very important so they feel safe to talk).
Trustworthy. Well, we have to trust our T to be honest, to not gossip about us, to be there when we need them (within the therapeutic contract), to be on time, to not take a million holidays, to give us sufficient notice when this is going to happen (to help prepare our alters and ensure no one feels abandoned), to name a few things.
Unafraid to talk about sexual abuse . My counselor made sure I knew she would never assault me. She let me know my physical and emotional reactions were normal to memories.
Understanding if a part is late or tries to avoid going. Sometimes parts block sessions or will not drive to the right location. That used to happen a lot and it was never held against me.
Understands that wants and needs may be specific to the client. Knowing a little about what works for us is helpful.
Understands that you are the expert on your system and your inside people.
Understands why you act the way you do or at least tries to figure it out.
Uses art therapy. That helped me more than I can ever express. So so much of my healing has been assisted by art. It connected me to parts, gave me an outlet for my anger for flashbacks. It was key to even knowing I dissociated.
Verbally welcomes system or parts when it is safe.
Willingness to admit when they are wrong and tells you.
Willingness to learn. If we want more therapists to work with DID folks then we have to give them a chance to learn. And, we have to accept that even the most experienced therapists can and will make mistakes. That is what makes them human and that is what we want – genuine folks working with us.
Willing to wonder, willing to say so if they are uncertain. “Let’s think about that a bit” or “What does this mean to you?”
That’s a LOT — but YES, these are reasonable and important needs and requests for dissociative trauma survivors. Frankly, I agree with you! Absolutely. All of these qualities and attributes are truly important. There’s no doubt about it.
At the same time, it’s asking a lot of one person to be all of these things. Or is it? Is it truly possible for your therapist to be all of these things, consistently, for years of time, without messing up, even a little?
What do you think?
Now that the list is all together — do you still agree?
Do you have more to add to or remove from the list?
Does your therapist represent the ideas presented in this article?
Is your therapist a good fit for what you need?
Let me be sure to remind you….. if your therapist is even close to being able to be this kind of person …. HOLD TIGHT to them, and treat them with as much mutual respect and kindness as possible. You’ve found a beautiful, beautiful therapist, and make sure they know how much you appreciate them while you walk together.
Anyone who can be this good to you deserves the VERY best you’ve got in return.
I wish you AND your therapist the very best in your healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2018 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
S or d or i don't know what says
i’ve only just started reading and i’m up to the B’s. but here is a feeling that needs telling right away. i find DID so hard to believe. and right at exactly the same time i fill up with tears and emotion that there is something so wrong. so how could DID possibly not be real? and i happen to be one of those who cannot find an appropriate therapist. i’ve only had therapists who to me seem very superficial. i just keep getting older to the point where i’m getting resigned to never getting anywhere. i spent most of my life totally absent from the body and when i woke up i believe i started screaming for help and the only ones who listened were the ones who want me to take meds and shut up. or think i have assorted disorders that are not treatable. i’m feeling desperate and i don t know what to do.
I have really appreciated reading the comments here. I am in a committed therapeutic relationship with a great T but I have been struggling with the fact that she takes a lot of time off for herself and another group that she is involved in that provides weekly therapeutic workshops that means that she is away. All good reasons for her to be away and I support that (i.e., her self-care and other work) but … I sure do miss her when she is gone.
I struggled with what to do and was set a bit off kilter last month when I found out that she would be away for eight sessions over a three-month period. I felt rudderless and there was a big panic with my insiders. Some friends suggested that I look for a new therapist but I do not want to do that. My T checks all of my boxes and I feel very thankful to have her working with me. And, we do great work together.
Well, I went to see another friend I have done equine experiential learning with on and off for the past seven years. She is a therapist in her own right although we are friends so we do not feel that it is suitable for her to be my principal T. She does some great work with me, however, with the equine twist added in. I laid out my issue with her.
She asked me what my goal was for therapy and what qualities I wanted in a therapist. Well, all of the things that have been discussed here. And, did my current T have those qualities? Yes and some more that I had never thought about before.
So, where was the disconnect?
The time away (those no therapy weeks) from my T. Several years ago, I finally realized why my then T had me seeing her just once a week. It was to give me time to explore and integrate what we were working on. It was also an opportunity to find resources for myself to deal with what I was learning and struggling with … to become more self-reliant and able to give myself the tools and care that I needed all those long days between sessions.
So, that is what I set out to do … find a way to resource myself for those off weeks. I chose to do other kinds of work with my friend and the herd. We have also set the agenda of doing some art therapy and creative writing. All things that I do not do with my primary T but are helpful in my work overall. I also get a weekly connection with someone that I trust and who always has valuable insights and challenges to offer me.
Okay … so maybe this is a bit off topic and … in some ways not. The perfect therapist may not exist because, quite frankly, our needs are often far greater than what one person can possibly provide for us. So, it may be a case of finding the best possible fit not the imagined ideal.
I am also thinking that it calls upon us to look at ourselves and how we can be the ideal therapist for ourselves. I believe in the idea that therapy is a 10%/90% ratio of work. Every week you do 10% of your work in therapy and 90% outside of the therapist’s office. So how then can you best resources yourself? What qualities do you need to work on to be up to the task of that 90% of the week where you are doing your own work.
Oh, and I just wanted to say that I really liked your list of important qualities Warrior-Healer. I especially resonate with point 10. Sometimes it is hard, if not impossible, to find a trauma expert to work with let alone someone experienced with DID. But if the T is not afraid to ask for help and learn, I think that the work can be very successful. As I recall from reading here at the DD website, that is how Kathy started … asking for help and learning along the way with her first DD client.
Oh and My/selves+Me, my old T hugged me as well. I think that it was just a spontaneous gesture of compassion at the end of our first session together that became our norm. I took it as an opportunity to learn safe touch and accepting a hug. There was a boundary to touch in every other part of our sessions so it felt safe and reassuring as the final send off to the week.
Wow! I like reading all the comments. For me, the first time one of my therapists hugged me, I was flabbergasted and I had to brace myself each time I went knowing she was going to hug me! But in time, I learned to return her hug and appreciate that … for me… it was a good thing, although I know that not everyone would like being hugged.
Recently I went to a few appointments with another female therapist, and when I asked did she give hugs… she instantly said it would not be appropriate. Well, needless to say, due to some of her stipulations, I did not continue with her. And to think that because of all I’ve been through in my life, I wanted to be a therapist someday… well, now … NO WAY. I have too much stuff on my own plate to try to help somebody else!
This list is great but it’s super hard to find all these qualities. Especially when you add that most of us don’t have consistent great income.
I believe the most important qualities are:
1) Ability to handle anger.
2) Understand attachment issues.
3) Don’t take things personal.
4) Practice their own #SelfCare.
5) Has healthy attachment personally.
6) Doesn’t have an insecure attachment style.
7) Willing to learn and Grow.
8) Sees values in ALL parts.
9) Makes a crisis plan before diving into trauma.
10) Isn’t afraid to seek help & education.
Hi my name is Ana and I’m 18.
I like this list.
Does anyone like this actually exist though?
I need a therapist kinda. I would love someone like this.
2 years ago I was forced to see a therapist after I was hospitalized with anorexia.
The guy was a dud and after 2 sessions he said he couldnt help,So he switched me to this lady. She didnt know anything either, and dropped me after 2 sessions.
Also she had to meet with my mom at the end of every session for 10 minutes, i may be dumb but Im not THAT dumb— there was absolutely no way I was going to tell her anything, knowing she would just tell my mom later.
This dopey lady said I could trust her, so I tried to at the first session. And she went STRAIGHT to telling my mom. So I learned my lesson— no telling adults secrets.
But now I am 18, and I am pretty sure that if I talked to a therapist at this age they wouldnt HAVE to talk to my parents.
I have kind of been noticing sometimes that in my heart I sort of have this…. Heaviness, sorta. It feels like my heart aches I guess; it spreads to my chest. Almost like the weight of holding everything in it for so many years is making it crack a little.i dont know if that makes sense.
It sort of makes talking to a therapist feel like an option. I read this page and it makes having a therapist kind of feel like a dream. I dont know where this list came from. It sort of sounds like they’re trying to describe a perfect person though; no perfect people exist, however.I suspect you could not even pay someone to be like this because its just too much to ask of someone.
In my mind I try to imagine a therapist coming to sit with me in my room here (I cant seem to leave my room.) I try to imagine myself being honest and opening up to them, I saw this movie called Sybil once and the therapist in that movie seemed really nice and patient and caring, so the person in my imagination looks like her. I try to imagine talking… but the words dont come out my throat. They get stuck there even in my imagination. And the therapist nods and says she understands and that its ok and then she just asks me questions so i can nod or shake my head. I wouldnt even have to say yes or no, because thats still telling. That way I havent REALLY told her the things Im not allowed to say.
I wonder what that would be like. Like if you have someone believe you does that make your heart feel any lighter? Do you feel like maybe your worth something if someone listens to you and believes you? Does it provide a sense of relief? I kind of wish I could experience that.
Thank you for reading, whoemever reads this.
Yes … there are therapists like this that do exist. Proof … Kathy and Laura here at the DD website! And, such a therapist is worth the work to find. Now, sometimes that is not easy. I have had a lot of not-so-great therapists in the past. Not that some were not trying but they did not have the appropriate skills and knowledge to help me. I gave up on therapy as a result. A traumatic experience had me looking for a therapist again and yes, I found one who ticked all of my boxes — knowledgeable, smart (in the street sense not just book learning), experienced, compassionate, intuitive, funny, a clear set of professional boundaries, a willingness to work with my insiders and broad range of tools to help me. When she retired last year, she helped me to find someone that was equally suited to me.
Those were the things that I was looking for Ana. I encourage you to make your own list of what you want in a therapist and to do your research on potential therapists. Then don’t be afraid to ask them questions of relevance to your needs understanding that they may have a professional perspective that you will have to learn to work with. The therapeutic bond is powerful when it works!
Now, to answer your questions:
“I wonder what that would be like.”
When you find that right person to work with, the bond is intense and the work deep and meaningful. Remember that there is a whole bunch of transference issues that can come up in therapy and sometimes that means that your relationship can hit some bumps as your therapist helps you to explore your issues and challenge your old ways of thinking. But, in the end, you will hopefully feel a strong heart connection with your therapist.
“Like if you have someone believe you does that make your heart feel any lighter? Do you feel like maybe your worth something if someone listens to you and believes you? Does it provide a sense of relief?”
Yes, yes and yes!!! So many of us have lived in silence and have not been seen, in a caring way, or believed by others. To have someone who is there just for you, who listens, believes you and supports your work is an incredible feeling and experience. It is also hard because as you begin to trust, you start to open up to the dark places that you had to hide away all of your life. That is a hard place to go but a good therapist will help gently guide and support you in that work.
Best of luck in finding a therapist Ana. I personally believe that having professional help is key to my work and healing.
They need to be sumbody who dont hide spiders in the sandbox
Our therapist is a very nice lady, she doesn’t mind when we can’t look at her. We take Duffy bear with us too, which is okay too.
She helps us talk to the inside
She is very gentle with us. She knows loud noises scare us and she let us check her closet for monsters there weren’t any!
She lets us cry when we’re sad or upset. She tells us to look around her office I think to remind us where we are because we can sometimes forget.
Sometimes we get so upset we can only hold Duffy and we can’t talk but she doesn’t mind
She is good at making us talk about hard things, she doesn’t really MAKE us talk she let’s us try to talk to understand things which can be hard to do
She never lets us leave before making sure we’re ok and safe
Lots of times we’ve gone over the time when she says we need to
She lets us message her if we need to
She is very gentle
a talker lady that be a little bit crazy and can make you laff also be very helpfol. becus some times you need a break from all the heavy talk.
My therapist has ALL these qualities. I feel very lucky to have finally found someone like her. I had a lot of therapists that were the opposite of this list. Those were hard years. I am very grateful these days. So yes. It’s not an unreasonable list at all. Every survivor deserves a great therapist like this. You’ve been through enough crap already.
Deborah Jones says
I have to say that my therapist has many of these qualities. She is a perfect fit for me. I still have much to work through and I know that she will be there. I feel lucky to have her.
Shirley Davis says
I had a Therapist who had all these qualities. She was also professional and was extremely careful to not allow me to become so dependent on her that I could not carry on should something happen to her and when my therapy with her ended. She retired two years ago and I miss her horribly, but I am able to move forward without her because of this carefully orchestrated and professional treatment. Don’t get me wrong, we formed a very strong bond and we both found it heartwrenching when we had to say goodbye, but she knew she had prepared me well for that day, and I knew I would be okay. Thank you for the hard work put in on this list. I feel it is very important for those of us who seek therapy for DID have therapists who can help us and not do us harm by not doing the things you’ve listed. And yes, Paula had days when she didn’t do some of the things on this list, but I grew to understand it wasn’t because she didn’t care, it was because she is human.
I think a characteristic that I like is the therapist is humble. They admit what they need to learn, admit and learn from mistakes, and realize that the client often knows more than they do about what the client needs to do to heal past hurts.
Another trait I like is a therapist has a good heart and is treating me like a human being instead of a client.
It helps me learn to trust a therapist to not be treated so formally at times. They have and need boundaries, but the boundaries are flexible when needed and not written in cement when a client is in crisis. They have a willingness to learn new skills and to get supervision when they need help.
I also like a therapist who knows how to balance my feelings of dependency with the need to feel strong and independent as an adult. Yes, I have parts of me that are internally very young, but I don’t want to be treated like a child. I’m an independent, intelligent, competent person, but at the same time have very young parts that don’t realize this. Having an understanding that the younger parts want to attach but that I fear attachment helps me know my therapist will understand why I push him away one session, and feel the need to go twice a week the next.
I also like a therapist who is intuitive and can make connections between abuses in my past to issues I have in the present. They ask good questions that help me connect the dots between what happened and how it affects my life now and how I view myself. I need to understand my internal world and having someone with a good intuitive spirit helps me put the puzzle pieces together.
I also like someone who is good at fostering internal communication skills. Someone who can help bring down the amnesiac barriers by teaching me how to communicate with and soothe parts of me that are upset and in crisis.
I also think it’s important that a therapist be consistently emotionally stable and the same every week. They dont get up when I’m up or down when I’m down. In other words, they keep their personal feelings from affecting mine.
I dont think a trauma specialist should touch or hug clients who have an abusive background, so I also want a therapist who realizes this and doesn’t cross boundaries and induce issues with transference. We all need a hug, but a therapist isn’t the place to get it in my experiences in therapy. It can mess with a sexual abuse survivors head, and I want a therapist who knows this and doesn’t cross physical boundaries.
These are a few things I’m looking for in a “good enough” therapist. I haven’t found anyone even close.
Kathy Broady MSW says
Nancy, hello !
Welcome to Discussing Dissociation. 🙂
First my apologies for being slow to post your comment (sometimes I mess things up unintentionally, and being slow to post this was an accidental oversight, sorry!) Believe me, there is nothing wrong with this comment. It’s a FABULOUS comment, and thank you for writing that. Because wow — yes, your thoughts and ideas for trauma therapists are wonderful. Really really good.
What you’ve written is a really good guideline for anyone getting to know someone with DID. You’ve explained so many important concepts in there — thank you. Very well said.
I appreciate your participation here, and I certainly hope that you keep writing. Hopefully, I’ll be quicker next time!
Well … I am sorry to have to say this Kathy but it sounds like you had a dissociative moment here. I think that you have been hanging out too long with us all. You are starting to take on our charcteristics … hum … loosing time … hahahaha!
All kidding aside, great to meet you and to have you on board here Nancy. I really resonate to the characteristics that you have discussed here. I especially like the one about intuition. I have experienced many different therapists in my life and there is a huge difference between someone who is competent and well trained in therapy practice and one who has the “gift”. I really appreciate a therapist who trusts their gut and heart as well as their head and can help me “flow” with my process rather than just follow a textbook diagnosis and solution.
Hope to hear your voice more here Nancy if you feel comfortable to do so. It is always exciting and insightful to hear new voices.
she help me talk about things even if someones hurt me and tells me to keep quite. today she helped to stop that person from hurting my arm. she was not afraid to take his hand away from me so he wouldn’t keep pinching Belinda is mostly good at her job. but she does have a memory foam problem. she say she needs more because sometime she forgets things. so we made her a pillow with foam in hopes that it will help. she still trust me and what advice i have . even if i was bad she understands why i did what i did im glad Belinda is my therapist.. when Belinda is away we have Darcy .she work with Belinda .Belinda set it up so we can see Darcy once a mouth. that way Darcy can keep up yo date . this makes her a good one
WE DO HAVE A EXCELLENT THERAPIST! I WAS ABLE TO SHARE WITH HER , WITHOUT HER BEING JUDGMENTAL . I FELT SHE WAS BEING TRUTHFUL IN HER RESPONSES TO MY SELF PAIN AND SELF HATRED. WHEN REDING THIS ARTICLEI IT HELPED TO APPRECIATE HER EVEN MORE. WE HAVE BEEN LUCKY TO HAVE HAD THERAPIST WITH THESE QUALITIES. I GOT MY FIRST EVER HUG. SHE ASK IF I WANTED ONE. I ASKED IF IT WOULD HURT. SHE SAID NO AND IF DOES.IM TO TELL HER. TO MY SURPRISE IT DID NOT.
P.S I WAS HAPPY TO SEE YOUR POST HERE ALSO
This list made me miss one of my counselors. I don’t think they can or should be perfect and I tried not to contact her too often outside of our sessions. I felt guilty for that. I also think she had to put up with me so I should be able to handle mistakes that were not intentional. What was it like to work with me? I can’t possibly know if it was a confusing mess but she would always tell me she could follow what was happening in sessions. I think she was a special person who really understood DID and it was luck finding her. Also the honesty of another counselor who introduced me to her was key. She told me she knew someone who specialized in childhood trauma. So I appreciate that someone was educated enough to direct me to her care. She made a lot of effort to fit me into her schedule too so I suppose that my point is no, they should not be expected to not make mistakes. We learn from them.
I do think this whole list is really representative of what is needed for us. It is a long list but it gets so complicated with all the different feelings, memories, parts, life stress and it is so slow to trust anyone. That does not mean all will always go perfectly. That is not possible with DID. I do think some counselors go the extra mile for clients. That is something that is a gift to us.
In thinking about another counselor who did not match a lot of qualities on this list, I realize I was not always safe. I think this T helped me in so many ways and she knew my life at that time prevented me from doing some of the harder work internally. She made me look at the present circumstances, which were really awful at that time, in a way that made me question the power I gave to others to determine how I felt. She made me think a lot about how I was always questioning my own judgment while giving everyone else the power to judge me. So I feel confused. I found her after leaving an office where someone thanked me on the first visit for not going on disability. She was loud, accusatory and ignored how severe my symptoms were. I reported her and called a hotline which found me a day hospitalization program where I was taken seriously. I was severely dissociated and they got me the help I needed even though it was not an easy process. I will say her office was also very low lighting, comforting and quiet. So sometimes a counselor can be who you need in a different way. I think sometimes we have to be open to some things on this list not being there when someone has other ways of helping. I know now I won’t go unless most of what is on the list is there but had I not seen this T I may not have realized a lot about ways I give my power away. For example, she taught me that I speed up my talking when I wanted to make sure I was believed or understood. I still work on that but can catch it 🙂 And even if a good counselor does not see parts as well as someone experienced, they might still understand the meaning of what is being communicated. So I just wrote too much but it feels good to talk about it all.
So that said I have come to this site a lot over the years and was scared to post. I am grateful this section was made although I am still scared that the public reads it. I have to hide a lot more than I used to. This site makes me feel that I am allowed to have DID. Without a counselor there is no one willing to talk about it so I go through it alone. There is so much richness that comes from healing that seems gone. It is so horribly painful to remember but being numb or scared into silence is worse. WE are all here communicating no matter what anyone else likes. It is also tough because it seems unfair for parts to not be understood because people in my life deal with them. Why not get to know them? So I go back and read so many of these articles over and over to help remember how to deal with things I learned in counseling. It is also nice to not be told I am selfish for saying all this. It helps reading other people’s posts and know we all need to get a lot out.
Kathy Broady MSW says
Hey Me !
I’m so glad you had the courage to post! I’d say “Welcome to Discussing Dissociation”, but you’ve BEEN here, lol. It’s really nice to hear from the folks who have been out there reading all this time. Waving a big friendly hi your way… 🙂
Thanks so much for reading, and your comment is helpful, and I hope you feel comfortable posting again.
There really is so very much richness in healing — that’s very well said. I’m truly glad to hear this blog has been helpful for you, and supporting your counseling through the years. Really good news!
Hold tight, please take care, and thanks again for peeking in with a hello. 🙂
one of the first clues that your counselor doesnt knoe mpd/did should be when they asks “how is your day?” – we dread that questions and never know how to answer. recently we figured out why – its cause we live in minutes or switches not days. a better understanding would help so we cod get questions like how is the switching or how is the air feeling now
This article has really been mulling over and over in my head, something’s just not sitting quite right for us… Not sure why, but i think it’s cos you hit the nail on the head when you said its unreasonable and unfair to expect 1 person to encompass all of these things.
I think we as surivors want and need almost all of these items on this list but its unfair as a client to go into therapy and place those expectations on someone. Moreover, to expect more and more of them if they do meet some or most of these things.. Some of these are bordering on unmet needs within the system that yes, do take positive role models to instill but shouldn’t be coming from a professional relationship. Some of the items on this list are transference.
My hubby used to get so angry at us when we would fly off the wall for our T not giving us a heads up on her taking a 3m holiday, or not getting back to us when we called her in crisis… But upon looking back and really sitting with what he’s said, he’s actually right, it’s not her job to keep us afloat and or to parent us. That’s OUR job! We are someone at her work, just the same as a dentist/dr/childcarer etc’s job entails caring for clients/patients.
Therapy is a professional relationship. They’re not there to be your friend or your carer. They’re not there to be the mum/carer/dad etc that you never had. Its a professional role and although it demands that you be vulnerable and personal its up to YOU as the client to be self aware enough to learn about and recognize transference. That said, we are all human and we all do have limits and it is vital that any DID T is at least half of the things on this list. Practical things like staying up to date with current treatment best practices; allowing the system to guide the goals and pushing without probing in sessions and respecting/recognizing every alter is different and has different ways of existing.
But i think whats sticking out to me most is that from a general overview of this list, it appears that the perfect therapist is at least 40 yrs old (cos really, you want them to be an expert in sexual abuse; child abuse and trauma; and DID with a proven clinical record in each- that doesn’t come by age 30 even!); is warm and compassionate, open with boundaries but have very few, there for you whenever you need them; gives step by step instructions with check ins regularly (eg at the end of every session) Hugs you, offers you candy, is into nature and moved by art, and is attentive, validating and accepting to every alters needs and accommodating/mind reading to how those needs play out or would best be worked through…
From my limited experience, that in a nice neat little bundle basically sums up the perfect mother that every little kid wants. And in the DID world, is very often exactly the type of mother that we never got. Granted, it is EXTREMELY easy to fall into this trap when the T is older than you. And this is exactly why i will not ever work with someone like that. Its a transference trap; its unreasonable and its not in their job description.
hmmm… i dunno, its mulling over and i can’t find the right words to put my gut and mind at ease here with this, but it just seems to me to be a TON of transference mixed in with some very good, practical sound requirements of a good psychologist/therapist.
I give merit to this list, its very good, and very helpful i’m sure to people looking for that one good therapist. But I’m also wary of the implications of this “perfect T”. To be all of this for 1 DID client would be utterly exhausting let alone many in a clinical setting. Its just not fair to place so much unrealistic expectations on one person who, (obviously lol) has a family and a life outside of work. It must suck them dry! And yes self care is on this list but lets be clear here, how much self care would it actually take out of your home life to get to a place where you have all the time, energy and emotional strength to give on this level to your own kids, and husband/wife and then say what? 6 or so DID clients every single day for yrs on end? Nobody can be everything on this list. And no, i don’t feel like its fair to expect it….
Course, i could be filtering thru someone else’s stuff here LOL. Who knows…That’s just my systems thoughts on it. 🙂 Pray to god this doesn’t get taken the wrong way again but whatever. It needs to be said if only to be out of my head LOL.
I think you make some great comments and ask some interesting questions. I can see that this list has really gotten you thinking and that’s great. Isn’t that the point of this blog? I agree with what you’re saying in part but I see it a bit differently. While my therapist cannot be and is not a parent to me or my insiders, she does provide many reparative experiences. The process of therapy reflects the relationship between a parent and child. When very young, a child is completely dependent on their parent(s) and gradually, over the years, learns to do things for themself. It’s the same in therapy, starting off needing lots of support, reassurance and over time that lessens when we learn how to self-soothe and ground, for example. I see attachment as really important. It is helping me and my insiders learn to trust when that hasn’t been possible before. I don’t see attachment and transference as the same thing. We have a good relationship with our therapist, which is boundaried but there’s also genuine caring. That is attachment. If we constantly wanted her to be a parent to us or viewed her in the same way as we see…the biological mother (still not sure what word to use), that would be transference. Sorry, this has become a bit of a ramble but I hope it makes some sense.
Thank you for making me think, astrie.
Thank you SeekingOurFreedom for replying you do have a very good point and it’s got my cogs turning again hahaha. I agree, when starting out in T you do require much more help and support and things do (hopefully) change and grow as you change and grow. I guess I hadn’t really thought of it that way much at all. I do see exactly what you mean and will think it over a lot more. Thanks for that 😀
Have a great day.
I’m always happy to get your (or anyone else’s) cogs turning, lol. That’s why I love it here. Being able to ask questions and discuss with others is really helpful. I’m so glad you commented because it got me thinking, and in responding to you, it’s helped me work out something I was getting stuck on in therapy sessions. So, thank you for helping me. 🙂
Have a great day too.
This Shaking says
Thank you for this list, Kathy. Just one niggle from a retired lawyer (with DID, of course!) It’s not HIPPA, it is HIPAA.
(Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is United States legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information.
Kathy Broady MSW says
Hey to This Shaking,
LOL — great first comment, LOL. I’ve fixed that now. And thanks for that explanation too, as not everyone who reads here is familiar with American legislation.
It’s also good to point out that dissociative folks can have very professional jobs too. Because that’s very true — some of my clients, through the years, have been doctors, or lawyers, or business managers, etc.
Glad you’re reading!
We be very blest to have our talker lady.
We tell Jesus thank you for her every night.
Interesting that this article was in my email box today. I just fired my T yesterday. Should of a long time ago. Had anxiety attach every session. Parts did not want to go and would not let her in. I have had this problem with another T as well. It was worse for us to be in Therapy and just want to be our own T which she hated. I am just a consultant to you guys and won’t let me in!!!! Both T’s always upset and very frustrated how we do therapy. Its both and hard to find a good fit. Plus I can not afford the help very often. Glad there is good help online today and parts and I do our own work. Therapist try but some day maybe there will be a DID school for the hosts and my Therapist inside that can learn to help the T outside of sessions.
Oh I wish I would of listen to my parts in the beginning (4 years ago) but I felt that was normal, IT’S NOT! Learned to Trust my parts. Happy, oh so HAPPY to be free of her! We learned a lot and can do it by ourselves. Education! I blamed myself for therapy not working. Just not a good fit. Hate to stop therapy but its just not available but not worth staying with someone for that reason. We are STRONG!!!!
Thanks Kathy and community .!
I think it would be very hard to find a T that fits this list. My current T doesn’t fit all of these but probably 90%. The biggest missed area is the trauma/DID specialist part. But that’s fine with me. I tried some specialist and they were not for me. None of them met 50% of this list. for me it’s so very important to have the connection and trust, without that I could not operate. Therapy is hard work and a compassionate person is a must.
Kathy – thank you so much for this blog. An article like this is so important to serve as a guide for us. I followed DD for a year+ before I was willing to admit to having DID. I’m not even 6 months in yet, I still struggle with denial. I value you and the DD crew so much.
Oh I do look forward to the member area. Is it possible to make it so we’re notified of follow up comments? I follow another blog on WordPress that I can do that with. I love it because I don’t necessarily make it back to the post after commenting. It gets lost in the abyss of my dissociative mind. Thanks!
Thank you for sharing this list. WOW, that is a LONG list!!! I agree with almost everything on the list but that is okay. I think it is a great list but not everything on the list will work for all people. I’m pretty sure most things will. I think this list is a great tool because if a person doesn’t know what good therapy looks like for DID, then this list is a great resource. I think it is important that a person finds a therapist(s) that can meet them where they are, that fulfills the needs they have in an ethical manner, and that the therapist(s) is doing self-care because after all, working through someone’s trauma history can be intense. I’ve had therapists that didn’t have the experience but wanted to learn; other therapists who claimed to be experts but actually caused more harm than good; some therapists who were constantly going on vacation or to conferences for their CEUs; and some therapist who had no business working with a DID client.
I’ve been in therapy now since 2011 and have had 13 therapists. That is a lot of different therapists! The reason being is because, by the 3rd one, I began interviewing the therapists because the 1st two were disasters (of course, I was not aware there was a name to my problem). The 3rd one didn’t have experience working with DID but met a lot of what is on the list. She actually gave me hope that there can be good therapists out there. The next 2 were trial therapists because #3 was going to a different practice and I wasn’t following her. One of those was too ecentric and did some unethical things; the other one claimed to be an DID expert having success with DID clients. Well after the 2nd session she asked me to not come back because what I did not know at first, was one of my alters was telling her off through emails/text where to put her paper degree–lets just say she was told to use it for more than just toilet paper. I requested a 3rd appointment with her and the woman was terrified of me. I gave her some sound advice that she had no business working with dissociative disorders if she was not able to handle a mouthy alter. The 6th therapist was good for a while (saw her for 9-mo) until she allowed her personal feelings to be expressed vehemently in session over a situation in my personal life and was making all sorts of accusations. She also was constantly late and would double book clients. The 7th therapist did not have experience but was an absolute trooper. She would be late from time to time because she overran her last appointment with clients. I saw her 1.5-yrs and then we just came to a place we were no longer making progress.
The 8th therapist did not have experience working with DID clients either but has been a trooper as well, I’m still with her and it’s been at least 3 years now. She is also wise enough to know what she doesn’t have experience in and has allowed me to work with other therapists in addition to her who have experience in certain forms of treatment (e.g., EMDR, art therapy, hypnosis, group, etc.) That is why there is more than 8 therapists. She has been a huge encouragement and I have watched her practice grow from a closet (yes, she had her office in a large closet at one point) to now a thriving practice with 6 or 7 therapists that work out of her office. So right now in addition to her, I currently see someone for grief because my mother died in July (also my main perpetrator) and it has effected the progress with #8 because it felt like she was just doing maintanence with me each and every week. I see a therapist that uses art that has experienced working with DID. I go to her because I wanted to use art to help process things that come up not only in my personal life but also as I begin seeing clients (I’m in grad school to be a therapist). AND this week, I am meeting with another therapist that has experience working with DID clients who does EMDR, which I have found EMDR effective in the past. I’ve been in a stuck place (which happens from time to time) and my hope is the EMDR will help resolve that stuckness. The therapist that uses art and the EMDR therapist I only see once a month.
So yes that is a lot of therapists, but I’m a complex person with DID and I came to the conclussion a long time ago (during therapist #7) that sometimes a single therapist can’t meet all my needs due to being complex. My psychiatrist has also encouraged me to seek out other forms of treatment. I have been on a journey of healing. I have also been fulfilling my life long dream which is to be a therapist that specialize with DID (I think I get it just a tad). I have done an intense and extensive amount of therapy because I knew I would be at a place one day where I was seeing clients of my own, and wanted to be in a healthier place. So yes, therapy for me at one point meant doing 5-hrs per week (that usually was two 2-hr sessions with an extra 1-hr session thrown in from time to time when I was in crisis mode. I am no longer doing 5-hrs of therapy per week because I’m not constantly going in crisis mode and because things are becoming more settled as I’ve worked on things. I also have had the opportunity to assist therapists with their DID clients which I absoltuly loved doing. Again, probably because I understood what the DID client was experiencing. As I look back over my course of therapy, although I’ve had some negative experiences with therapists, I think those experiences will help me be a better therapist.
The state where I live ranks #49 with #50 being the worst for mental health care. There is not one single trauma treatment center here (which is my goal of opening one when I finish school–yes my dream). The eating disorder treatment centers here are a joke because they claim they can help with complex trauma, (uhhh no they can’t) and they do not have any idea how to work with a DID client. The psych units of the hospital have no idea what to do with a DID patient, they think giving anti-psychotics will solve the problem (uhhh, nope it won’t make the voices in my head go away). The only way I made any progress in the psych unit was my psychiatrist was wise enough to allow my outside therapist come to provide individual therapy, I was also doing group, and art therapy. Thankfully I have not had to go to the psych unit in 4-yrs. One professor in grad school where I attend has openly declared during a class that he does not believe in DID and doesn’t even know why it is even in the DSM. So yes, these are motivations for me to finish grad school and open up a treatment center for trauma because of awful care.
Sorry for this being so long.
Shirley J. Davis says
This is a marvelous resource! I also think a list of what to expect and not to expect from a therapist and therapy would be great too. I know I have expected these things and much more from my therapists and was disappointed when they couldn’t do the Superman things I had set up about them in my mind. Thank you so much for all you do for the DID community!!!
Whoah very longwinded and most of those points are repeating themselves but holy wow there are some really golden ones in there. My last T was absolutely NONE of those things LOL. But the one before her was every single one bar the teddies and hugging (no need for them anyway, we brought our own in our handbag LOL and have our husband to hug if we need to) Its a very special person who can stand up to the requirements of a DID T and i loved how the list specified that they’d take someone who was a newb to DID but a great counsellor in general cos thats what my best one was. She had no idea about DID before i walked into her office but boy did she go home and research! Everything was trial and error but it was actually the most helpful therapy i had ever had. Achieved more in 18 months with her than anyone ever before or since.
I esp liked the point about the T who talks too much ahahah my last one was exactly that. She loved the sound of her own voice and i would start saying something, she would interrupt or just misunderstand me and then go off on a 10 min long tangent. By the end of it we were all just eyerolling her and going about our day while she ranted at us (it was phone therapy). Total waste of my time. Oh and of course, like most, she considered herself a trauma and DID specialist. lmfao.
The most important thing ive learned over the yrs of therapy is that theres no shame in shopping around and when you know, you know. The “click” is real, its near instant and you don’t come away from a session feeling shaky, like you’ve been probed or like you should’nt have said anything.
I always left T feeling like i had just had a big chat with a really good trusted friend and like there was a plan for the future. Even if it meant i just had to sit with the suicidalness for a while.
We loved her so very much. Took yrs to get over her abruptly leaving with 1 weeks notice but looking back i’m so so incredibly thankful to her for the time, effort and energy she poored into us. We were def at our worst then but wouldn’t be where we are now without her.
A really good, thorough list but perhaps hard to find. Am lucky to have a therapist who does much of this and for me what is important is clear boundaries as have had the opposite with significant people in my life and therapists. Thanks so much Kathy.
Thank you so much for this comprehensive list. My Psychologist is incredibly awesome. I think where she falls short on this list though is that she has very strict boundaries when it comes to out of session contact and extra time. If I email her during a crisis we will get no reply. She is a very busy lady and she has a family as well, so I really get it. It’s really hard to find therapists as good as the one I have where I live so I am grateful for the one I have, and the fact she ticks mostly all of the boxes of this list is fabulous. I might have to show this to her at some stage. 🙂
D K says
I think this a great list. I know no one can meet this list all of the time. We are getting to know our new T right now and we can only hope we will meet many of these things.
I enjoy this site, and it is helping us to get better, one day at a time. Ups and downs and all.
good list but i think all counselors should be knowledgeable about traum it is just more with did because we are so hypervigilant we dont miss anything and then we start taking care of them – no good
Oh wow … That is so very true. We can tend to see other’s needs and respond to them out of habitual need to please (more often then not to avoid abuse). If your T is super needy (i.e., is not just having a bad day or short bad spell) then that is not good. If your T cannot see how their stuff is getting in the way then probably time to go looking for a new T.
Kathy Broady MSW says
Good to hear from you. It’s certainly a good thing to be on the same team as a therapist, but it is not at all your job to “take care of them”. So yikes… you don’t gotta do that. They are supposed to be taking care of themselves, and helping you how to figure out what you need to do to take care of you. Therapy time is about YOUR healing, not theirs. You can keep that boundary for yourself, but yeah, the therapist is supposed to already be doing that. Yeeesh!
Hold tight, and be very very good to yourselves…
Thanks for writing.
Amen to that! Kathy.
Gerri Bird says
This blog is really an excellent resourse. I do find the list laughable though. In northern BC I was lucky to escape a 48 hour psych hold for what amounted to a particularly bad PTSD experience. This isn’t escapable here. The only safe place to be is at home working hard to recover as much of your wholeness with integrety as you are physically able, in the most effective and efficient ways possible. Self led healing becomes the life or death choice in places where there is little help. I would change the article to read:Things you need to feel for yourself before you allow an untrained, easily frightented, potentionally harmful medical “professional” into your head. Thank you again for the excellent resource, glad to have found it, and know it is places like these that make people like me survive. Much respect.
That sounds like a horrendous experience. I have a few horror stories at the hands of so- called professionals. Awful especially so because of the power that they have and how powerless folks with mental health issues are. I am so sorry to hear not just the bad experience that you had but that there are few if no options for you where you live. I am in urban Canada and it is hard to find competent therapists. I can only imagine you dilemma.
I found this website a source of excellent information and compassionate understanding. I also value the opportunity to talk with other DID folks who know what I am dealing with in a way that singletons can never understand fully. I hope that you can see this place as a life line to help.
Also, I am not sure if you saw on the website but Kathy does telephone consultation and Laura does email consultation. That could be another resource for you.
Hang in there Gerri. We are here to listen and offer help when we can even if that is an understanding ear.
Gerri Bird says
Tears of understanding. Thank you. I had to learn it for myself, and self led learning is truly some of the most helpful when it comes to unravelling any mystery. I am not sure if I’m ready to do anything but start understanding myself better. I have been away from wordpress for several years. When I get too close to understanding, I step away. this is excruciating but also completely understandable and easily helped with the right resources. I am beyond ready to figure out what needs to be done to create better understanding and resources for dissociation. I believe it is so widespread today that nearly EVERYONE does it to some degree to avoid unpleasantness. It was not in being dissociated that I had trouble. I was very, very good at functioning at it because so many people around me demanded it. The real trauma began when I had to give up my favorite coping skills to start to manage my psychiatric conditions responsibly. My last 6 years have been in the growing discomfort that there was always something seriously amiss. It’s easier and harder to be unified, funnily enough. Thank you for the understanding, which as you well know, is sore to come by in these extremely misunderstood manifestations of trauma.
Oh how I hear you. There are days when I long for the bliss of ignorance that fueled a highly competent, reasonable, responsible, professional and personally successful life on the outside. But, the dysfunction that gnawed away at my mind, heart and soul soon became too much for me to ignore. That took me over five decades to come to light and a crisis that took me back to therapy. I vowed to pull back the veil of who the world wanted me to be and show my true self in therapy if I was ever to find growth, understanding and peace. In the process, I found out that I had no idea about the layers of trauma that made up the real me or the wondrous collection of alters that had shared my life with me and protected me along the way. I knowingly thrust myself into the abyss of a world that had been hidden from me because of the pain that it contained. And, while I still struggle to find my way through the thicket of traumatic thorns and bramble that tear me down, I see the light of hope in each step that I take.
We are here Gerri to speak our truths; to help each other find a new “normal” with friends who share our kind of multiple being; to vent, scream, cry and giggle at our collective way of being; to support each other as we stumble down our paths to healing; to be heard and understood without judgment or expectation; to be cared for, respected and honoured for who we are in all of our shades of self; and to offer that sacred essence of being that we have been long denied – hope.
With compassionate respect,
Kathy Broady MSW says
Hi Gerri, and thank you !
Welcome to Discussing Dissociation, and I am so glad you found us here. Your story is EXACTLY why I started this blog in the first place. I first started learning about DID when I lived in Saskatchewan, and for goodness sakes, talk about being in a remote area with next to no resources! It was rough for me as a brand new and clueless professional, but you know… I completely agree with what you’re saying — it’s sooooo much rougher on the folks who need to heal from the trauma and just don’t have anyone around who can be a genuine source of help and support. OUCH !
Unfortunately, I’ve heard far too many horror stories about untrained and unhelpful “professionals” and I’m really sorry you went through that. It’s not okay.
The good news is…. since you are already aware that self-led healing is possible, you can truly learn a lot about how to help your system by learning and applying all the piles and piles of stuff that is here. And honestly… the people that do the very best in their healing process ARE doing heaps and heaps of self-led healing anyway. So, in that sense, the more you can do for yourself and your inside people, the better.
I do hope that you find this resource to be helpful, and yes, Laura and I are available for Consultations if that ever is a necessary option for you. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of articles and thousands of comments all packed full of helpful information. You can be very very busy for quite awhile just reading everything now available for you.
I wish you the very best in your healing journey, and welcome to the community here at Discussing Dissociation!
WOW … that was a ton of work organizing and putting this list together Kathy! Thank you so much. I greatly admire your hard work and dedication to our community. So, I need to start here and say – you are a “beautiful, beautiful therapist”, Kathy and I want you to know how much I appreciate and respect you with the kindest regard. You have been an inspirational, thoughtful and generous guide to me on my journey to healing and I feel genuinely blessed to have you in my life. Mere thanks seem so wanting to the task of expressing the depth of my gratitude for you but that is all that I have to humbly offer here.
SeekingOurFreedom really spoke my heart and mind here. I offer my own experience below.
My therapist is simply incredible and I tell her so as much as is appropriate. When we end each session with a hug, I ALWAYS thank her and tell her how much I appreciate her. I never let a session go by without expressing my sincere regard for her. She has a darn hard job and I tell her often how thankful I am to her for being willing to do the remarkable work that she does and to do it with such wisdom, compassion, humour and creativity. She continually tells me that she simply loves her work and welcomes all of me. No part of me is too much, too difficult, too scary, too anything for her not to welcome them with compassion, understanding and respect. How beautiful is that?
I am not saying that my T does not challenge me. WOW does she challenge me.
But she does so with such gentle kindness that I find the courage to go into the scary places with her light of understanding illuminating my way. And, she models behaviour and offers her own truths (in very modest measure) to show me a different way of seeing and being. Actually, when I leave my sessions with her, I know that I have done good work if I am feeling some discomfort. That means that we have cut into the deep stuff. Discomfort is good. But, in going there, I never feel unheard, attacked or disrespected. She has a gentle yet firm touch to comfort and challenge. How beautiful is that?
Now, my T does not tick all of the boxes on this list. But, then again, some of those boxes really do not speak to my needs. There is not a “one-size-fits-all’ therapist for us. We are all wonderfully unique under this umbrella of DID. And, while I would secretly wish for some of these empty boxes to be ticked, it is not my T’s way, how she works, where she sees her boundaries or what she considers healthy, reasonable access and engagement. I am just fine with that. Actually, I value and respect her professionalism and mode of treatment. It is sound and reasonable. It is not hard to accept when it is counterbalanced with such wisdom, compassion and sincere understanding.
Kathy asks, “Is it truly possible for your therapist to be all of these things, consistently, for years of time, without messing up, even a little?” I would respond with a resounding, “NO”! Our Ts are people with lives, histories, strengths, flaws and frailties. For me, it is not an issue of my T messing up, it is how she responds when she does. This is where the true strength of character of a T comes shining through in my eyes. My T has made mistakes on occasion and I have utmost respect for her that she is willing to listen, to own her mistakes, embrace her frailties and apologize when that is appropriate. Human relationships have bumps, mistakes and misunderstandings. That is okay. If you work through these issues with mutual respect and ownership for your part in the relationship, the bond only gets stronger.
Thank you for this blog Kathy and an opportunity for us to thank you and our Ts for the incredible jobs you all do.
BTW – my husband thinks that I am just lucky that my T does not charge me group rates! Hahahaha!
Kathy Broady MSW says
Thank you, Me+We — I genuinely appreciate that. I was *given* this road to follow for my career, and for whatever reason, it deeply resonated with me as a person, so I’ve stayed on the path. But you know… as far as I’m concerned, we are all on this journey together. What I’ve learned, I learned from DID survivors, and I’m just sharing back what I’ve been taught. So you know, it’s a big circle of help and healing here. :).
I’m far from perfect, and I have my grumpy days for sure, but my heart is pure. And I’m definitely opposed to the depths of my core re: people being abused and traumatized and hurt and destroyed by others. That’s just not okay. Really really not okay. Someone has to do something about that, and I am doing what I can. I wish I could do more!
Me+We, thanks for all the support you are offering folks here. Your kindnesses are greatly appreciated!
Thank you for your kind comments. It is obvious that your dedication to this field of work is more than just a professional one, it is a calling. And, I do believe that we all learn as much as we teach in life. I share here and I get back a hundred fold in my own journey to healing.
I am glad that you do not see yourself as perfect Kathy. I would not have the same depth of trust in you if you thought that way. You are a “real” person with your own stuff. I honour and respect that. And, I do not see anything but pure heart in what you do here. Never would I question the sincerity of your heart or your dedication to folks who have been traumatized. I have always told folks here that this was a safe, compassionate and informative place.
I also trust your judgment in the professional colleagues that you choose to work with as you have seen the need to speak of here. I have never questioned that point. In that regard, this can be viewed as a vote of support for Laura from ME as well (as I have done so on numerous occasions in the past).
With sincere regard,
first therapist was none of these.
second therapist is almost all of them.
its a good list.
So many tears right now.
This list is really good and thorough. It is a lot to ask and expect of someone but… This list is a very accurate description of our therapist. There have been times (not many) when mistakes have been made, either by us or herself, and she always owns those mistakes that are hers. Therapists are human, like anyone is, and ours has the most beautiful heart. She is boundaried, professional, continues to read and learn, uses a variety of approaches to help us, and on top of all that, she genuinely cares. She accepts us. She sees us, who we really are, rather than simply seeing issues to fix. Therapists like this do exist.
I’m going to show this list to our therapist and tell her exactly why we are so grateful to have her in our lives. I have told her before, several times, but I want to tell her again. People can never be told too much, too often, how appreciated they are. With that in mind, I really want to thank you, Kathy. We may not have written very much until recently but you have helped us so much for a long time now. Your words always reach us in some way and make us think, learn, grow. Your words have often helped us in times when we have felt stuck. I’m so grateful for everything you do. You are one of those beautiful therapists,
With much gratitude
Kathy Broady MSW says
Waving hi to Seeking Our Freedom,
Thank you. And thank you for being here, especially because it’s a long time now! I’m glad you’re around!
And I’m really, really glad you have a T that steps up to this list. It’s beautiful to hear how much that means to you, and thank you for sharing that. It sounds to me like you’re getting a whole lot of healing accomplished, and it’s super wonderful that your system feels safe with your T, and feels safe to be here as well. Healing is a difficult road, but you are very much on a good path with some very solid support. That’s such good news. It can make all the difference for you.
Thank you for your many kindnesses, and please keep up the good work!!!
Little Jj says
Am i wrong for wanting my T to just be direct with me?
She went round and round in circles with me, and wouldn’t give me a straight answer when I asked what she meant, other than to say it would click soon. I was clearly distressed, upset and detached, visibly disassociating from the stress of not understanding why she wouldn’t just say what she meant.
I feel like I’ve done something wrong because she proceeded to tell me that she cares about me. This made me leave my seat and put my hands over my ears to not hear her. This being said to me after being made confused from going round and round with her riddle talking.
I know you probably can’t answer this for me, I’m not expecting you too be able to either. I guess it just feels a little better venting.
I guess you could add for a DID trauma T to be direct with what they say and mean.
Seeking Our Freedom,
I too, have this type of therapist! There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for her! She has been in practice for about 25yrs and has many of her own difficult life experiences. All of which have been extremely helpful to draw from to us. She is honest, kind, compassionate and trustworthy and will even say at times she’s not sure where a session is headed or what the specific plan is that day. She let’s the Spirit lead her and it’s ALWAYS the best path.
I write her notes and cards, but it seems I run out of ways to thank her for all she’s done for each one of us. You’re right, we can never say enough just how grateful we are for how much she’s done, is doing and will continue to do.
Thank you again, Kathy, for posting this list. I am sadly aware as I read it, that many do not have a therapist that fits these categories. It is a difficult area to understand and I’m sure emotionally and physically taxing on most. My hope is for those who need a therapist to “get it and them” will find that unique and special one.