Finding a Christian Counselor
Although a good counselor can be extremely valuable, a bad one can significantly set you back. You can even choose a superb Christian therapist / counselor and still end up deeply hurt, if due to unforeseen circumstances (sickness or whatever) the therapist / counselor ends up having to leave you in a year or so before you are fully healed. This is quite a possibility because full healing usually takes several years and counselors are typically so compassionate and needed so much that they are often in danger of over-extending themselves and burning out.|
This is one of several reasons why it is important to try to avoid emotional attachment and/or dependence upon a specific counselor, but despite the best intentions it often happens and if the counselor is forced to leave at a critical time in your healing, it can be quite a blow. So already it is becoming obvious why your choice of counselor should be a matter of much prayer.
It is essential that a counselor not believe that alters are demons. (Ideally the counselor should believe in demons and be willing to cast them out but must strongly believe in caution in this regard).
It is important that the counselor believe in regularly speaking individually to alters and not just addressing the host.
If at all possible, find a counselor who believes in leading each alter to Christ.
I am suspicious of any counselor who thinks healing from D.I.D. might only take a few sessions. A counselor should not be overzealous in seeking quick integration of alters so that they are no longer treated as individual alters. It is tempting for all of us to seek a quick fix but a supposed cure could end up merely forcing alters into hiding. It might seem helpful in the short term but it would actually end up very counterproductive. Each alter has individual issues that needs to be addressed and healed, and each has a will that needs to be respected.
Counselors need to keep a little aloof. Since the reasons for this are not immediately obvious, I need to provide a fuller explanation than for the other points.
It is of critical importance to your healing that every part of you bond with, and become dependent upon, Jesus and each other. Unfortunately, even though it can seem to initially help, getting too close to a counselor, or to anyone else, can detract from this critical bonding or even undermine it.
How awful it would be if someone wanted to heal her marriage and took her husband to a counselor and then her husband fell in love with the counselor! To heal a marriage the goal must be for a husband and wife to bond with each other, and certainly not with a counselor. Likewise, for healing of Dissociative Identity Disorder, the goal is for all of a personís parts to bond with each other, not with a counselor.
You obviously need to bond with any children and/or marriage partner that you have, but not even these relationships must be allowed to detract from your relationship with Jesus and with every part of you.
Counselors should not let little alters call them Dad or Mum or hug them. It is very tempting to break this rule because, in the short term, it seems loving and effective. The serious problem, however, is that it can create too strong a bond that, in addition to the issue already mentioned, would prove devastating if ever the counselor suffered from burnout, illness, needed to move away, or whatever.
Counselors who make the mistake of getting too close usually have a good heart and, even if they have been doing it for years, are too inexperienced to realize the dangers. Not only is it unprofessional to hug counselees, it is often a sign of lacking the training and understanding that professionals have.
Do not presume that the counselorís gender will protect you from inappropriate bonding. Young, love-starved alters can bond exceedingly deeply and very quickly to either gender. Moreover, people with D.I.D. have usually been sexually wounded and often have alters who are unsure of their own gender and/or are attracted to the same gender as their body. You might not be currently aware of any alter within you with such vulnerabilities but you probably have alters you have not yet met.
For more about the very real dangers of getting too close to a counselor, see the first section of Help for People with D.I.D.
The counselor should be someone you feel comfortable with and preferably has an office and waiting room in which you feel comfortable. Ideally you should not always have to leave the premises immediately after the session but should have the opportunity to de-stress in a private room and to ensure that an alter skilled at driving or finding oneís way home is fully present.
There are advantages in having a fully accredited counselor but ideally, the counselor should continually seek Godís guidance rather than trusting his/her experience and training.
Sending Alters to God/Heaven?
Ask if the therapist/counselor Ďsends alters to God.í If the answer is yes, he or she needs to be questioned a little more. If alters are Ďsent to Godí as a very temporary measure, it might be okay, but if it is done in an attempt to be permanently rid of some or all alters, this is not good.
Sometimes, certain alters benefit from being temporarily isolated from earthly concerns and from the rest of the person, and allowed to fellowship exclusively with their divine Healer. As explained in Why You Desperately Need Every Alter, however, alters are a critically important part of you, and you need them down here with you as soon as practical.
Another important consideration is whether alters are Ďsent to Godí in a way that might be misinterpreted either by them, or any alters who might be secretly observing, that some or all alters are not wanted. This would have quite a negative impact.
For a more detailed explanation of all of this, see Could ĎSending Alters to God/Heavení Sometimes be Harmful?
More about Choosing a Therapist/Counselor
Before deciding on a counselor or therapist, I urge you to read thoroughly all the webpages listed at Christian Resources: Index of Help for Dissociative Identity Disorder. This will provide a very solid grounding and give you information that would usually take you months or even years to gain from a counselor, and it is free. Moreover, it will empower you to recognize a misguided counselor, although of course it will take time to get to know the counselor.
If you looking for a counselor in the US, The American Association of Christian Counselors and the Christian Care Network website might be a good place to start. Not even this association, however, is prepared to stand by its counselors. To use this service you must agree to the disclaimer and proceed.
If, like me, you live outside the US, there might be an equivalent association in your country.
You Have Rights and Your Counselor Has Rights
You always have the right to say no and object to anything a counselor says or does. Survivors of child abuse are used to being in a situation where objections were ignored or even increased the abuse. They were also usually repeatedly told they were stupid. Being subjected to this is deeply wounding. Until full healing occurs, it will carry over into adulthood and strongly tempt these people to endure behavior from a counselor that should not be endured. Moreover, what is triggering to one person might not be for someone else. So if a counselor says or does anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, let him/her know.
A good counselor usually has many people clamoring for his/her help. And a compassionate counselor can easily endanger his/her long-term survival as a counselor by giving you more time than he/she is capable of sustaining. This is particularly the case when it comes to calling your counselor out of hours. It is in your own interest not to burn out your counselor, so please ensure it really is an emergency before you contact him/her out of hours
Summary: Questions to Ask a Prospective Counselor
I suggest you introduce yourself roughly like this:
* Do you believe in demons?
* Do you cast out demons?
* Do you believe alters are demons?
* How important do you consider it to speak to individual alters rather than primarily just to the host?
* Do you consider it important to lead each individual alter to Christ?
* How long do you expect it will take to heal from D.I.D.?
* Do you believe in letting little alters call you Dad/Mum?
* Would you regularly hug little alters?
* After counseling sessions, do you provide opportunity to de-stress and ensure that an alter skilled at driving or finding oneís way home is fully present?
* What training have you had?
* What experience have you had in treating people with D.I.D.?
* Is your training and experience enough or do you find yourself regularly needing to pray for discernment?
* Are you a full member of a counselor/therapist association?
* Does the government recognize you as a fully accredited counselor/therapist?
* How frequently could I see you?
* In emergencies, how available after hours are you?
* Is there any charge? If so, how much?
* Add any other questions you consider important.
Therapist sessions and medical consultations (including dental, physical therapy, scans, blood tests, and so on) are occasions when new alters are more likely than usual to unexpectedly take over. Not having had a problem in the past is no guarantee about your next visit. So even if you find a superb therapist, it is still important to read this short webpage: When your Therapist or Health Professional Does Not Understand Dissociative Identity Disorder. It also explains how you can benefit from a therapist who is not skilled with D.I.D.
For much more insight and help, see:
© 2011, 2019 Grantley Morris. May be freely copied in whole or in part provided: it is not altered; this entire paragraph is included; readers are not charged and it is not used in a webpage. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings available free online at www.net-burst.net Freely you have received, freely give. For use outside these limits, consult the author.
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