January 4, 2009
I ended my last post with this paragraph:
Focus first on relationship building with your parts. Get to know them. Talk to them. Learn their names. Overcome your fears of who they are. Appreciate their strengths. Develop friendships with them. I guarantee that your overall stability will greatly improve as you are more connected with your internal system on a genuinely friendly, caring basis.
In my opinion, developing good internal communication is the core of the treatment work for Dissociative Identity Disorder. If you cannot or do not talk well with your other internal parts, you will not be able to complete your healing work effectively, thoroughly or sufficiently.
Imagine going to your place of employment and not being able to speak with any of your co-workers. How well would businesses work with that approach? Have you ever been to a big department store? Imagine if the employees couldn’t speak with each other for days-weeks-years at a time. That store as a whole would find it extremely difficult to manage busy days, or to handle simple, basic operations. It would crumble. Even if all the employees continued doing their own jobs perfectly — if they are not communicating with anyone else in the store, then the store as a whole would be less effective. It would likely go out of business sooner than later.
Dissociative systems cannot function without internal communication any better than large department stores can function without internal communication.
If you don’t talk to your inner people, and if your various insiders do not speak with each other, none of you are going to function as well as you could.
Also, if you run your system with an attitude similar to Hitler’s, that’s not going to work so well either. Approaching your insiders as inferiors or nuisances that you want to kill off, or dispose of, or get rid of in some way will not be helpful. As our real-life example has shown, this type of dictatorship and abuse leads to tragedies like genocide and world wars. Don’t go there with your internal world. Treat your inner people with kindness and respect.
I promise you that every single one of your insiders has value, importance, strengths, and significance. You might not understand who they are at this point in time. And when you don’t know the positive value held by each person inside, that’s a big clue that you have some therapy work to do.
Allowing your system to stay scattered, chaotic, disorganized, and messy will not help your stability or ability to function. Keeping with the store metaphor, who wants to shop in a cluttered, disorganized, messy store? Can you find anything? Does it take twice as long to find the things you need? And are some items just impossible to find without taking huge chunks of extra time?
Permanently blocking your internal system behind walls or curtains or an unexplored blackness is not helpful either. I realize that all DIDer’s have dissociative walls and barriers already — walls that could have easily been there for years. That is the nature of DID/MPD. It’s the initial point of having a dissociative disorder — surviving by using those same dissociative walls to separate yourself from yourself and from the situations and feelings that were too conflictual, too painful, too difficult, etc. In the here and now, the treatment goal is to gradually lower and remove those barriers between your system people, and certainly not to create more walls or to support more distance between everyone.
Internal communication is the key to doing this work.
Doing your system work — meeting each other, getting to know each other, will in itself create a greater sense of order and structure within. More of you will know who can do what, where the other parts are, and how they got there. It won’t feel so strange or unknown to you. Insiders can become friends with each other instead of being strangers separated from each other. Even though there are additional steps to take, start by encouraging everyone in your system to be willing to see, meet, and greet as many others as possible. You all need to know who you have in there.
My next post — Internal Communication, part 2 — will list specific ideas for how to develop communication within your system.
For today, in preparation to do this work, please think about the following:
- How willing are you to speak to your insiders?
- How willing are you to listen to your insiders?
- If you are afraid of some of your inside people, what are you willing to say to them?
- If some of your insiders have experienced a different life than you have, are you willing to listen to them?
- What will you do if someone says something you don’t want to hear?
- What will you do if your insiders squabble and argue with each other?
- How will you handle it if certain insiders hurt others within your system? What if they are hurting child parts? What if they attempt to hurt you?
- What if meeting the others folks inside means learning that you were more hurt and abused than you realized? How will you handle that?
- What are your thoughts and feelings about finding new insiders — ones that you didn’t realize you had?
- Do you know how to speak to child parts? How will your address them if you see that they are hurting emotionally or physically?
You can do this. Your healing depends on your talking with your internal system.
Kathy Broady, LCSW
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