Finding or Choosing a Therapist
Choosing a therapist is a tough decision, but sometimes you feel you have to do it. How to choose a therapist is another story. It has traditionally been challenging to find the right therapist for a neglected and supposedly rare condition — but post-pandemic burnout & trauma has led to trauma survivors having a surge in symptoms and seeking treatment when they may have been able to coast along much longer, and there's new trauma for front-line, hospital & emergency workers, who would likely not have had PTSD had there been no pandemic but — well, now they do.
New therapists cannot be trained fast enough to fill the need. So trauma specialists have waiting lists and it's very challenging to find an opening.
Please don't despair, just plan for it to take longer & even more effort and know that y'all are definitely worth it. Get on some wait lists — in the meantime, y'all can continue work on making progress before getting in to an appropriate therapist. See the Self-Help Indexes New & https://pluralityresource.org for some of the available options (many folk start out with the United Front System Safety Plan course which is free). You also may want to check out the United Front Boot Camp (free), and the United Front book series.
Y'all can also refer to the No Therapist page for advice on going without a therapist while y'all are still looking.
Ask for referrals
If you have the ability to be picky, it's probably best to go to a professional association whose beliefs are not anethma to your own, and ask for referrals in your area. If you choose just any therapist, it's possible they don't believe in multiiples. If you choose someone who belongs to a professional organization dedicated to education and research on multiples, at least you're unlikely to end up with a member of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF) -- a group who deny the existence of multiplicity, childhood abuse, ritual abuse, and similar on the claim that therapists hypnotize their patients and thus it's all made up.
Ask for Documentation
When you are about to make the appointment, ask for the therapist's CV or curriculum vitae. This is a long resume type of document that should list all schooling, supervision, continuing education, residencies, papers written, research done, special trainings attended, etc.
We are INTERVIEWING them. They ought to have this ready and kept up-to-date in the first place, otherwise they're just stuck in their office all the time and not ever actually doing anything (like presentations) in the world. And it's not a private document or something rude to ask for.
Heck, I'm thinking of asking my therapist whom I've been with for a couple years for hers. Why not.
What you're looking for: their training above and beyond getting their degree (degree programs rarely have any useful information about DID), continuing education that shows an actual interest or specialty or training in trauma, whether they trained under or were supervised with a known trauma or DID specialist, whether they did their dissertation or any papers on trauma or related issues, participated in any studies on trauma or treatment appropriate for trauma, membership in associations related to trauma — but that's not sufficient — participation in sub-committees, conferences on trauma, any lectures or presentations they have done about trauma or attended on trauma, where they may have done a residency, agencies they worked for, etc.
It should be pretty apparent whether or not they have any real interest or experience in trauma & DID, and whether or not they've just checked a box on a form claiming they have such experience, or hung out a shingle with no experience other than maybe reading the ISST-D guidelines.
Things to Look For: Be Observant
Your first time in the office, you're there to interview the therapist. Make sure you bring some questions with you. If you're going to tell the person that you're multiple right off the bat, you ought to ask something like "How do you feel about integration? Is that a suitable goal for treatment?" And make sure you agree with their stance on that pivotal issue.
If you're going to spend time feeling the person out and not come out as multiple right away, you may have other questions, as to length of the sessions, and questions about whatever your excuse is for being there -- say it's anxiety issues, you could ask: "For every 10 patients you have that seem to have an anxiety issue, how many have you put on medication?" "How would you treat anxiety without medication?"
Look around the therapist's workplace. Do you feel comfortable there? Listen to all the instincts/voices, and pay attention to your anxiety level -- if the pit of your stomach is responsive to questions (some people's are) you can play litmus test or twenty questions with it: are you just anxious because you're meeting someone for the first time? Or is it the environment? Do you think you can work with this person? Do you like them? What's your initial impression?
If something about them makes you uncomfortable right away -- whether it's the color of their nailpolish or hair, or you can't put a finger on it, you might want to find someone else. You really need to feel comfortable with the therapist and you might miss clues consciously that other people in your head are trying to give to you.
Also, you probably don't want a therapist that you could be sexually attracted to. Keep that in mind.
Therapist Interview Questions
Contributed by Hodgepodge (unless otherwise noted)
Here are the questions I mentioned that I asked when interviewing the therapist during the first session:
- How many clients with DID have you worked with? And for how long? [made sure they used the word "client" and not "patient" when answering]
- What kind of training and/or experience have you had with DID?
- What is your approach to trauma work?
- Do you believe integration or fusion is necessary?
- Are you aware of the concept of functional plurality?
- Are you comfortable working with younger parts if they want to speak to you in therapy?
- How do you respond when a client tells you graphic trauma? [This was a very important open ended question that can't be a yes/no or fact based type answer. For example: the therapist answered that they "listen closely with attention and compassion.")
- What happens if one of us doesn't show up anymore? (will they check in with you, cancel your appointments, send you bills, etc.) [Suggested by Stronghold System]
Crisses suggestions (non-leading questions)
- "What do you think about integration or unification?"
- "How would you deal with a client who has already been in therapy for a decade?" (however long if you're changing therapists and already have begun serious treatment in the past)
- "How do you address members of a DID system?"
- "What are some successes you've had with DID clients?"