Dissociative identity disorder (DID), formerly known as multiple personality disorder, is a complex disorder. Most people with DID require skilled professional help at some point in their lives. A good therapist can help them deal with difficult emotions and learn new coping skills. A good therapist can also help with co-occurring disorders, which are common, like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and addictions. But how do you find a good therapist that knows how to treat dissociative identity disorder? What do you look for?
Beliefs about Dissociative Identity Disorder
While dissociative identity disorder is included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used by mental health care professionals and has long been recognized as a valid psychiatric disorder, some therapists actually don’t believe it exists. Some of them believe that patients pretend to have DID in order to get attention and that therapists that treat the condition simply encourage patients to continue pretending to be sick. Obviously, you don’t want to choose a therapist that doesn’t believe your condition is real.
It’s usually best to choose a therapist with experience treating dissociative identity disorder, if you can. Sometimes financial issues, insurance limitations or other circumstances limit your choice of therapists. If you can’t see a therapist with experience treating DID, make sure you select one that is willing to learn. Ask the therapist with whom she will consult if she needs professional advice regarding your treatment; she should identify a therapist that is experienced in treating DID that she can consult if needed.
Experienced or not, make sure any therapist you consider working with is licensed by the appropriate licensing body. Licensure requires therapists to meet minimum standards, to get continuing education in their field and provides them with a set of ethical standards they must operate under. It also provides you with a way to report any mistreatment by a therapist.
Goal of Treatment
Talk to potential therapists about what they believe the goal of your treatment should be. Ideally, they will tell you the goal is up to you. Some therapists believe integration of all personalities is the proper goal of treatment, but not everyone with DID wants to integrate. Some people just want to develop communication and cooperation between alters. Your therapist should support your goal, not try to push you to work toward her goal.
Perhaps the most important thing is that you feel comfortable with your therapist. You should feel like your therapist listens to you, believes you and cares about you. It can take time to develop a lot of trust in someone and you may not immediately feel comfortable telling your therapist all your secrets, and that’s all right; you should, however, feel like your therapist is someone that you can start to share a little with now, and someone that you might be able to share more with in the future.
Web MD. http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder. Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder).
Haddock, Deborah Bray. Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook. 2001