PARTS WORK FOR SYSTEMS
Having a dissociative disorder can be frightening and confusing. Navigating the ins-and-outs of daily life feels so much more complicated for you than it seems to be for other people. Sometimes you genuinely want to keep going, but other times you're completely exhausted at the end of the day and unsure if you actually can. Relationships feel fraught with danger, even though you might long for closeness and connection. You're scared and alone, keeping secrets not just from other people but also from yourself. Plurality can feel alienating and shameful. It's hard to find others like you who really get it, at least in real life.
Depending on where you're at in your process of understanding yourself, you might have moments where you think to yourself: Maybe this isn't actually real. But then there are other moments when the truth feels undeniable. You find yourself wondering: How am I supposed to trust myself when what's happening inside of me feels like chaos? You're constantly grappling with the way you see yourself and struggle to understand what's happening internally.
If you're further along in your journey, you can recognize some of your parts or have relationships with them; but others are less well known. You want to know them but it's also scary to think about what you might uncover, even when you know this isn't something you can avoid indefinitely. More than anything, you want your parts to get along and work together, instead of being so diametrically opposed. You're sick of all the fighting and you need their help.
And then there's the way other people see you.
Even though it's natural for the mind to be multiple – in fact, our brains are designed to be able to split under conditions of extreme stress and trauma in order to protect us – there is a tremendous lack of societal understanding and acceptance when it comes to dissociation. People generally want to think of themselves as one, whole person. Very often, folks who are fragmented are stigmatized, pathologized, portrayed as dangerous, invalidated, or outright accused of "making it up."
The reaction of the outside world can be retraumatizing and leave one feeling misunderstood, ashamed or isolated. Some might worry that others will see them as "crazy" or feel as though the truth of who they are must be harbored as a shameful secret that others can never know - if it's possible for you to be truly known, that is. Others have had horrible experiences within the mental health system itself and end up feeling hopeless, defective, or even "unfixable."
You're not. I know it's real and I can help.
I want to share some information about the way I work with dissociation so that you can get a better sense of me and hopefully feel a little more comfortable reaching out. Something I'd like to note is that I use the words “part” and "parts" throughout this description, but recognize that many folks have their own terminology that feels right for them. In our sessions, I will use the words that you're comfortable with. I will also honor your expertise in the way you conceptualize your internal world and the goals you'd like to accomplish in therapy.
A SPACE WHERE ALL PARTS ARE WELCOME
My practice is a space where all parts are welcome. I don’t see integration as the goal of therapy, nor do I impose this on my clients. My intention is not to "make parts go away." I believe that all parts are inherently valuable and every part represents a complex set of needs that are important to your system. Another way of saying this is that each part serves an important function and they complement one another to achieve a kind of balance. The system might not be perfect, but the intention of each part is to create a sense of balance within the system. In my view, conflict tends to arise from the collision of different world views and different needs bumping up against one another. Our work is to understand the set of needs that each part represents, the role that they play in your system, and the value they have within the self. Part of what this entails is trying to stay open to the possibility that there is a duality held by each part. There are no "all good" or "all bad" parts – every part is shadow and savior, an amalgam of light and dark.
HOW THERAPY CAN HELP
I mentioned earlier that I have no intention of trying to "make parts go away." This isn't just my personal take on therapy. The standard of care in working with plural systems is to form trusting relationships with all parts in order to depolarize the system and increase co-consciousness – or an internal sense of harmony within the self. I see my role in this process as serving as a bridge between parts in order to open up a dialogue between them, build trust, and help them relate to one another in new ways. Our work together can help you to feel a sense of internal balance and harmony within yourself, so that you can communicate with your parts, create a shared understanding between them, and foster collaborative relationships where all parts are on the same team. If that seems like a wild concept right now, I get that. I also very much believe it's in the realm of possibilities.
If you'd like to know more about my practice, I encourage you to reach out to me by phone, text, or email. I'm available at 415.841.3338 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also fill out the form below, and I will respond as soon as I'm able.
I offer a 20-minute phone consultation that is free of charge. This is an opportunity to talk about the things you're struggling with and how I can help.