Self-Help For DID
We Crisses offer life coaching services to help folk move through the stabilization phase, help folk with accountability, empowerment, help them feel seen and heard as plurals in a culturally plural safe space, etc. while they're working with a therapist, or if they cannot work with a therapist for any reason.
While we work with issues other than trauma, we did work on a significant amount of our own trauma using self-help and recovery materials.
We don’t recommend doing trauma work without licensed professional help. However we recognize that not everyone can get a therapist. So then what?
Most of what we can help out with directly is the process for getting ready to work on trauma. Usually we recommend folk do these things while still having a therapist, in the hopes that it shortens the amount of time needed to get to trauma work safely. That’s where we put a lot of our time and energy — so here’s some tips (with links for additional resources on each step for what we’re talking about) not intended to replace professional advice or assistance.
This process mimics the stabilization & trauma phase of conventional treatment, but from a plural cultural point of view, this is a lot of community wisdom around recovery. This article outlines the overall conventional treatment process with some notes for therapists.
These suggestions mimic or complement the stabilization phase of conventional therapy. They can be done as complementary to therapy services, homework between sessions, or bolster work with a therapist who is not familiar with DID, etc.
- Make sure you’re safe in your external life — as safe as possible. Also work on a System Safety Plan — this is a personalized living document you can keep going back to and updating that outlines ways to take care of yourselves and prevent crisis issues.
- Work on trust internally — y’all are all in this together, you’ve had each other’s backs before, and a strong internal team can definitely help with the trauma recovery process (to the point we’d say it’s not optional, unfortunately many therapists rush past this). This includes working with system rebels.
- Adjunct to that - teamwork, community, and ways of handling, taking care of and comforting system kids (and by extension other traumaholders).
- That also means finding and helping headmates to get unstuck — at least the easier ones — so that they can be part of the team and their skills are available for the recovery process. This may require returning to steps above again and again for a while or returning to this process while doing trauma work if new folk are uncovered.
By the time you get past all the preliminary preparation, you might not need to dive into the deep trauma work as much anymore. You can spend long stretches in phases of “healthy multiplicity” and only tackle trauma work when a specific trauma issue comes up, rather than chasing down every trauma actively.
Again, we suggest doing the work under the guidance of a licensed professional.
It's important to note is that trauma work is work. If you choose to do trauma work, it may monopolize your life just like any other full-time job does. So if you’re working while doing trauma work, remember you have 2 full-time jobs and up your self-care while reducing other obligations accordingly.
- If you don’t have a professional to help you, perhaps consider learning a desensitization tool such as EFT first, but it needs modifications very similar to how EMDR needs modification to work with DID systems. Gary Craig’s book EFT for PTSD (Amazon, affiliate link) includes those modifications for C-PTSD/complex trauma in the book. We’d suggest using EFT on other lighter things and work your way towards working on trauma.
- We don’t recommend doing trauma work alone. If you don’t have or can’t get a therapist, then work while someone is in another room, a trusted partner can be in the same room, or a highly trusted person could help online. We did some of our trauma work with an experienced partner system online. It will help with time-sense, coming back to the present, making sure you get self-care, accountability, and knowing someone cares — etc.
- Now you can use EFT along with other trauma recovery books or methods (usually intended for singular folk) for working with your system. Y’all will have to modify any workbook to work within plural paradigms — then build a pillow fort and dive into some deep recovery books.
It’s likely y’all will need to lean on headmates and externals for support, trade off fronting and comforting internals, return to stabilization tasks frequently, make sure you’re using and tweaking your safety plan, and maybe be in a few support groups — even a very small trusted group where folk can share deeper more sensitive stuff.
The 3rd phase of conventional therapy is where the client either is doing unification work or the client will continue on while still being plural or multiple, but the other aspects of this phase are the same either way. This is a transition phase from working on trauma to working on external supports, shoring up coping mechanisms, and making sure that the client(s) are able to adjust to post-trauma-work life. Generally intensive therapy sessions are ramped downwards at this point in conventional therapy. In terms of self-help work, one would employ self-help work towards how to live as a multiple at large.
Some folk skip over trauma work, live as functionally as possible while multiple in society, and only deal with traumas as needed.