December 22, 2008
Most clients quickly think of the many qualities they want in their therapists. However, are those clients also thinking about whether or not they are presenting themselves as the type of client someone would want to work with? As an experienced psychotherapist, I am proposing that there are many criteria for clients to consider about themselves as well as about their prospective therapists.
Many of the following issues pertain specifically to trauma survivors and those with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID/MPD).
Please consider the following concepts as important guidelines.
- Are you in a constant or repeated state of crisis?
- Are you looking for someone to rescue you immediately?
- Are you repeatedly in a suicidal or self-injurious panic?
- Do you make more than one emergency call every few months?
- Are you frequently in drunken states, or on the verge of over-dosing, or on the verge of self-injury or suicide?
Most therapists are not as interested in taking on heavily crisis-laden clients. The more stable you are, the more therapeutic options you will find.
- Do you show up for every appointment?
- Do you cancel at the last minute?
- Do you pay for your sessions up-front and without issue, irritation, or complication?
- Do you do you keep your word, and follow through with the things you say you will do?
- Do you regularly pass important information between the leaders of your internal system, and not hide behind dissociative amnesia as an excuse?
The same as employers, babysitters, and doctors, therapists want to be able to count on you. They don’t want scheduling nightmares, and they don’t want to have to beg or fight for their pay. Remember, there are a lot of other people involved in each weekly schedule, so keep your time spot precious to you. Show your therapist that your therapy work matters to you.
3. Motivation and Willingness
- Are you willing to do what it takes to get through your healing process?
- Are you open to new ideas?
- Are you resistant to change? Do you react with irritation, anger, frustration, or refusals when you are expected or encouraged to change?
- Do you complete your homework each week?
- Do you bring new issues of needed work to the table? Are you presenting topics that need to be addressed? Or are you waiting for someone else to point the trouble spots out to you?
Coming to therapy typically means you are looking for some type of change in your life. If you are happy with the way things are, or you do not see any areas that need work, or you do not see any changes that you are willing to make, why are you going to therapy in the first place?
- Change and healing require taking new steps – both little steps and big steps. Can you do that? Will you do that?
- Are you too scared or too anxious or too depressed to try anything new?
- Are you willing to venture into difficult, complicated, painful areas of therapy work?
- Are you willing to look at painful memories when it’s therapeutically needed or recommended?
- Are you willing to look at the reality of toxic, abusive, or dangerous relationships, even those with your loved ones or family members?
Therapists can help you address your fears, your problems, and your issues, but only if you are willing to allow that to happen.
5. Personal Responsibility
- Are you willing to look at what you are doing to contribute to the problems you are experiencing?
- Are you willing to face your part of the problem, rather than focusing exclusively on blaming others?
- Are you genuinely open to hearing feedback about your issues?
- Do you retain the things you have learned from session to session, month after month? Will you be able to apply what you learn over time, or will you continue to use dysfunctional responses over and over?
- Even if you are dissociative, are your adult parts in charge of and responsible for your child parts? Are you able to maintain an adult presence when necessary?
The more responsibility you take for your own healing, your feelings, your behavior, etc, the further you will go in your healing process.
(Please come back — the second half of this article will be posted tomorrow.)
Kathy Broady LCSW