Having moved a few times along our journey to recovery, we have needed to interview and find a new T. We typically request a list of T’s in our area who are members of the International Society for the Study of Dissociation. Although, believe it or not, we found that some of the therapists on the list we received did not even know what Dissociative Identity Disorder was. Yeah, we were shocked, too. Another good idea is how we found our current T. We just so happened to be in a trauma unit in a hospital specializing in DID and they gave us a referral to her. I’m not suggesting you go inpatient, but rather call the nearest hospital that specializes in DID because they are likely to have a list of T’s in your area. We lived 2 1/2 hours away from the hospital we went to and they had a great one for us!
We typically start by calling different therapists and ask them a key question: Do you have any experience in working with Dissociative Identity Disorder? I always say DID rather than MPD because while lots of people know what MPD is, we’ve found that if a T says, “What??” then they don’t know enough about DID to work with us and we say, “Thank you.” and hang up!
We prefer someone who has previously treated DID, though it is not an absolute requirement. I mean, everyone has to start somewhere, but the sad reality of it is there are too many therapists out there that have no clue or worse they believe it doesn’t exist. Period. Those kinds of therapists, I simply don’t have the patience or the time for.
After we weed out the list of T’s with phone calls, we usually ask the ones who know about DID and maybe have even treated it if we can meet them for 15 minutes or so in their office to ask them a few questions (interview). This also gives everyone in my system time to check out the office space and the person (do they have any super triggering features that we can’t deal with?) and see if we are a good fit. Below are a list of questions we like to ask. Some of them we found online and some we added.
Here are some sample questions we usually ask:
- Are they a member is the International Society for the Study of Dissociation?
- Are they supervised? If so, by who?
- What is their fee and how long are sessions? Do they have extended sessions ever for DID clients?
- What types of insurance do they accept? Do they file for you or would you need to file? (this isn’t always a bad thing. We are extremely happy with our current T even though we have to file claims ourselves.)
- How many MPD/DID clients have they treated?
- To Cooperation?
- To Integration?
- Do they believe that Integration is the only true way to be totally healed? Or do they believe that integration is an inside families/system’s choice and will they support you whether you decide to integrate or live in cooperation?
- How many years of experience have they had?
- How many years experience have they had treating DID clients?
- How do they work with child alters? (talk, play therapy, etc.)
- Do they have toys, etc. for child alters?
- Do they believe writing and drawing helpful?
- How would they feel about you participating in a survivors’ group?
- Could you schedule extra sessions or call them in time of crisis? Also, do they email?
- How would they handle it if you came to them and said there was a “problem” in therapy? (we added this question because we had a T that was quite defensive when I brought up issues with how she handled something in session)
After your meeting with the potential therapist, it is helpful to have a system meeting and find out how your system felt about it. Here are some questions you can ask yourselves:
- Did I feel respected and listened to?
- Why or why not?
- What did I like about the session?
- What didn’t I like?
- How did I feel during and after the session (disappointed, hopeful, excited, scared)?
- Could I imagine ever trusting this person?
- Why or why not?
- What, if anything, do I still need to find out?
- Do I want to see this counselor again?
We made Microsoft Word documents with the above questions on them and enough space to make notes when we went for our introductory session/meeting. Also, the post-meeting questions, we put on a separate paper along with the therapist’s name, phone number, fee per session, and insurance they accept. This helped us to be organized in the process of finding a new therapist. It is stressful enough trying to find a new T, this just makes it a bit easier to make sure you can find the right one for you!