Therapy Is Not For Everyone

15. April 2016 Uncategorized 8
Therapy Is Not For Everyone

 

 

Disclaimer: this post is not intended to be construed as medical or psychiatric advice.

 

I know it may sound counter-cultural to say this, but I don’t believe therapy is always the right answer for those with DID. Given what I have learned over the last decade about trauma, dissociation, PTSD, and ritual abuse, the availability of professionals who even know the first thing about these topics is a crap shoot (at best). In that case, it becomes a question of whether bad therapy is better than no therapy – and that’s a hard one to answer. Certainly with trauma survivors it can be helpful to have a place to just talk about anything you need to talk about, even if solutions aren’t forthcoming. Everyone needs a safe place to process life. But if the therapist’s beliefs about you or your situation are contradictory to yours – in a damaging way; not in a challenging, helpful way – it may actually be harmful.

This is a controversial topic, because there are those who believe very strongly in therapy (or counseling) as the primary means to recovering from longstanding debilitating conditions caused by traumatic experiences. There is a certain security to be found in systems, where there is an agreed-upon set of diagnostic criteria and a clear trajectory to follow in terms of prescribed treatment.

I can definitely understand this viewpoint. And I am absolutely not anti-therapy. *Quality* therapy is invaluable. One of the problems is, I have concluded from my own experiences, and from all the stories I’ve heard from others, that those qualified and skilled enough to offer such quality therapy are so few and far between as to be almost nonexistent.

Then there are others – myself included – who have been deeply wounded by the medical/psychiatric treatment model. Rather than being a resource that has helped us cope with crises, I have found myself disempowered and damaged even further by those in positions of power who were supposed to help me. More than once, they claimed that the disempowerment and damage they were doing was helping me – and then told me I was the problem, when I protested or resisted.

So what are the other options?  I have personally chosen to pursue a faith-based model of healing, but I know this is not for everyone, either. And even within that model – just like in the therapy model – there are people more educated, and less educated, on the relevant issues. You have to do your homework on someone you may potentially work with, no matter what type of helper the person claims to be.

There is also peer work, which I engage in quite a lot. Two years ago when I started blogging, I had never really heard the term before, but my friend Sarah gives an excellent overview here. You could call my entire blog an avenue for peer work, since it connects me to people with similar experiences and we have conversations about what works for us and what doesn’t. I get to hear lots of stories from people in both camps, and so I have come to believe that therapy isn’t always THE answer. It can be a tool, if you can find a good therapist who knows what they’re doing and whose beliefs and goals align well with yours. I have written more on this on my pages “Choosing a D.I.D. Therapist” and “Goals for Therapy with D.I.D.” if you would like more thoughts about that.

For me, some of my most empowering realizations did not come from traditional therapy. Many of them came from the person I work with, in the framework of the faith-based model of healing. But I’ve been particularly lucky in this area. The rest have come from talking and listening to people who have gone through similar things.

Don’t be afraid to make your recovery your own. If you believe therapy is a good fit for you, by all means, go for it. There are tools like Find a Therapist (USA), the Psychology Today therapist finder tool (USA and Canada), the ACPA search tool (Australia), and the UKCP search tool (UK). You can also google “find a therapist [location]” for more links.

There are some Christian resources for healing listed on my blog here – and you can also contact me for more info on those.

If you are more interested in going the peer support route, there is a lot of information out there for that as well.  Peers for Progress (USA) has some good basic information, as well as Mind (UK). All sorts of information can be found with a google search on all of these topics.

The important thing to remember is that you’re not locked in. If you try something for awhile and it’s not working, you can change and adjust your process to what is helpful to you. Everyone is unique. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. I believe recovery probably necessitates a combination of different tools. Re-building houses that have been decimated will require different tools depending on what kind of house it was. My tool belt will – and probably should – look different than yours. It’s not about finding the one *right* tool, but about finding as many tools as necessary that you need to build a life that you feel good about – a life that is uniquely yours.

Cheers. ~J8


8 thoughts on “Therapy Is Not For Everyone”

  • 1
    Anonymous on April 16, 2016 Reply

    Jade, you are right on. For 25 years I received traditional therapy & it was a safe place to process & help me function. Faith based healing is what has helped me the most. I am thankful that the Last Psychologist I went to finally admitted he wasn’t equipped to deal with the SRA stuff. I had figured it out that the previous therapist weren’t equpped. My healing, not finished yet, has been a faith based approach, privately & with loving people who know how to deal with DID in a way I feel loved & safe.

  • 2
    Anonymous on April 16, 2016 Reply

    I forgot to sign the above comment. Faye Russell:)

  • 3
    warddj on April 17, 2016 Reply

    Well, I’ve been ridiculed, rejected, mocked and cursed because of the DID/RA issue – and I’m a therapist!

    This brings me to my point: that therapy can sometimes be the difference between life and death, misery and suffering, but trying to find someone who (as Jade has previously said elsewhere) actually believes this reality is so hard to find! So, as someone who does have experience in this area, I say tread carefully. Go with your gut feelings. However, finding someone who is comfortable in speaking to Parts is so rare, and talking to my colleagues about this issue is like talking to a brick wall (or they want to medicate me…)

    Personally, the Parts/internal people I have met over the years have taught me more about dissociation, RA and the importance of relationship than any textbook or professional. It seems to me that until you find someone like that, the Peer model sounds like it has much to offer.
    take care,
    David

  • 4
    talktoj8 on April 17, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for reading & commenting, Faye and David!

  • 5

    I think it’s important to point out that not all therapy is talking therapy, art therapy is particular is a great help to many survivors, including ritual abuse survivors. Art therapy is not the only non-traditional type of therapy that seems to be effective, and it can be particularly helpful in avoiding the “don’t talk” rule that often limits disclosure and disrupts treatment. Art can be abstract, concentrate on representing emotions only, or be interpretive/respresentative rather than just concrete depictions of actual events and seems less open to automatic judgements about accuracy of memories.

    I definitely agree with your comments about professionals working by the medical model rather than seeing the therapy process as a type of colloration or partnership, and also about the risk for invalidation – especially coming from therapists who decade to judge the accuracy of memories and experiences. It’s not therapeutic to do that – people need to have chance to come to their own conclusions and work through their own narratives, reflecting on them as more parts add their contributions. Both therapists who judge either by believing all or limiting what they are prepared to accept/hear are damaging: believing all means that any altering of a narrative means a loss of trust in the therapist (for example, realizing that a particular memory was partly based on deception, eg. screen memories), and being unable to properly discuss self-doubt and denial.

    To state that therapists with knowledge of DID and RA/SRA are almost non-existent I think is to risk falling into the trauma-mode of thinking that ‘nobody can help’ or ‘nobody will help’ – some suitable therapists do exist, although they don’t always advertise that they work with RA/SRA, and a tiny number of therapists without experience do turn out to be capable of good providing long-term therapy for people with DID/DDNOS, including RA survivors.

    For those deciding not to engage in any kind of therapy, then there are not many useful resources available if you have a past including RA/SRA. Chrystine Oskana’s A Safe Passage to Healing, which is survivor-written, and Alison Miller’s Becoming Yourself: Overcoming Ritual Abuse and Mind Control are both good and very comprehensive though. For people with DID and no RA/SRA past there are many self-help books available.

    For those people who are seeking talking therapy, or having doubts about their current therapist, there are some good article online about whether to continue with therapy and ‘what makes a good therapist’. I want to point out that *not judging memories* is part of the official DID treatment guidelines, which anyone can download from the International Society of Trauma and Dissociation – ensuring you have a therapist who is willing to follow these guidelines can reduce problems.
    A therapist with adequate supervision from another therapist with experience of working with RA/SRA survivors is also likely to reduce problems: some supervisors use facetime or skype for supervision, so lack of local support shouldn’t prevent good supervision.
    The article ‘Treating Ritual Abuse Survivors’ by therapist Lynette Danylcuk – from https://survivorship.org/survivorship-articles/ – also covers a lot of issues which can come up, and explains the best ways to work with RA/SRA survivors with DID – including the fact that the medical model replicates the power/authority dynamics of ritual abuse.

    • 6
      Jade on May 12, 2016 Reply

      Good points, thank you. 🙂

  • 7
    sueheffelfingergmailcom on May 18, 2016 Reply

    I appreciate that you were brave enough to talk about this. I also appreciate the other comments. Our experience with “normal” counseling with a therapist and our dealings with psychiatrists was, in fact, so bad – over and over and over – that I’m not sure I would ever recommend therapy for someone with DID and/or SRA unless I specifically knew the professional person or had a direct recommendation from someone I trusted. It’s only by the grace of God and the strength of our mom part who HAD to survive for our kids that we are alive. And we had no idea we were DID all those years. By God’s grace we’ve now had amazing therapy for a decade and are still at it. So we always recommend that desperately hurting individuals who may or may not know that they are multiple get as many recommendations for a therapist as possible. The trauma of those early attempts to get help still haunt us.

    • 8
      Jade on June 8, 2016 Reply

      Thank you for sharing. I’m sorry to hear about the pain you’ve endured, both in general and in the context of trying to get “help.” I can relate to so much of what you said that I feel much the same way. Sorry for the delay in response – I had surgery 2 weeks ago and have been recovering. Thank you for commenting!

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