United Front: Pilot Certification Program FAQ
Why a correspondence-style self-paced course?
Professionals like you are very busy and usually have a practice or client base. Holding live classes at specific times and days would burden everyone and be nearly impossible to run the course when people have an active practice. Also since a week's assignments may be too much for you to complete in one week, a correspondence-style course gives you the flexibility you may need to complete all the course materials.
This also opens up the course to professionals all around the world, with the only limitation being that the course is in English.
The actual materials may be delivered in a variety of ways — we are looking into using a LMS to deliver the materials, which may open up a forum for students to share information with each other. But the attitude will still be that of a correspondence course and not have the same time limitations as a regular college course to allow students with a current practice more flexibility.
What are the course disclaimers or agreements?
Who the course is for…
This group is only for certified, licensed, and trained professionals who are assisting multiples, plurals, those diagnosed with DID/MPD, P-DID, or OSDD/DDNOS, and are willing to accept that a harmonious internal community in a plural system is a positive and necessary outcome. We are happy to accept graduate program candidates, however you're probably too busy already.
Content Advisory: Plural-positive language will be used in this course. For example, residents or members of a plural system are people until proven otherwise, unless your clients prefer different language. If it thinks like a person, has traits like a person, has skills like a person, has feelings like a person, it’s a person. Clients’ system as a whole will be addressed with “they” pronouns in the course (individual clients' preferences may vary). Everyone within the system will be addressed as equals and no preferential treatment given to anyone claiming the identity of “host” or “original” or “core” (why is explained in the course). Note that you do not have one client in the room, even if there’s one body in the room. Within that body, you have many clients. This is a paradigm shift alone that would probably improve your rapport and your ability to negotiate communications and paradigms with your clients. It’s on the house.
Here are some of the course objectives that we will use on CEU or accreditation applications.
How do you advise a multiple or plural system with internal trust issues? What techniques, tools, paradigms, assistance, and support can you give to system members who have trouble getting along? How do you handle system members who are frustrated by having a shared life? What attitudes and ideas should you bring to the table in their consultations or sessions with you?
- Learn the language and paradigms that best support your clients and build rapport
- Foster and support your clients’ internal system trust
- Assist plurals in recognizing unhealthy power dynamics at play
- Facilitate system dynamics that foster internal communication and community
- Transfer lessons from external group dynamics, and healthy social dynamics and help your clients import them to their internal system
- Help your clients recognize and stop unintentional internal bullying, coercion, and mis-application of force in their plural system
We use concepts from group facilitation, organizational theory, systems theory, life coaching, and practical social common sense to look at how plural systems improve internal dynamics and learn to work together.
Please explain the course timing and payment plans better? How does this work…
- Application fee. The application fee is non-refundable, even if you are not admitted into the program or you decide not to continue in the process. It covers the cost of reviewing your application, scheduling and holding an intake interview, checking your license & credentials, and determining whether or not you are a suitable candidate for the program. We want people in the program, so it's not likely we'll turn people away. We don't expect any problems, but this is a vulnerable community; we will reject people who in our opinion have a poor professional reputation or whose application contains serious errors or omissions. Be honest about your reputation or problems you have had in the past, and you might pass.
- After the application is received and reviewed, we will schedule a live interview with you. This will take 30 minutes to an hour and involve checking out any questions on either side regarding the application or how suitable the course is for you. If you are accepted into the program you will be enrolled in the course once your first payment is received.
- You then can complete lessons as you get them (or get access to them). While I expect them to take a week, it is possible to complete the course faster. Each week there are homework assignments, the next week's packet will be sent to you after your homework is reviewed. You will get feedback on your homework assignments. If delivered as a correspondence course, we'll likely use email for the homework assignments.
250 non-refundable application fee. $150 for the pilot program.
followed by 3 tuition payments, spaced as follows:
500due upon acceptance, after intake interview. $250 during pilot program.
500due before week 5 packet will be delivered. $250 during pilot program.
500due before midterm packet will be delivered. $250 during pilot program.
If you choose to pay in installments, then your installments are due before you get the 5th week assignment and before you get the Midterm assignment (between weeks 8 and 9). If you cannot make your payment for some reason, let us know. Not everyone will go through the course at the same pace and we are happy to hold your place in the course for up to 1 year from when you begin. (This is limited to 6 months for pilot program participants: your enrollment discounts represent compensation for timely completion of the course and the extra weekly feedback that we expect from you on course materials. We still understand you're busy, so you get 2x the length of time to complete the course than future enrollees would get.)
I (moved, got married, dissociated, etc.) and didn't finish the course within a year! Can I re-apply to get an extra year?
If you need more than a year to finish the course, you will need to pay the $250 application fee to re-open your work-study files, continue the course for another year, and also complete any remaining payments due from your payment plan per the course schedule.
I have the time, but I don't have the money! What can I do? (scholarships and waivers)
We're not looking to get rich on application fees. We want competent therapists in the world. The fee keeps ill-suited applicants and people looking to rip us off from wasting our time and helps cover the large time expense of enrolling students into the program.
We will happily give a discounted rate to certified peer specialists, students (with proof that you're on a track to a therapy-related license), social workers working for government or non-profits, etc. Basically if you are in a position to work with or on behalf of plural clients or consumers, we want you to be able to work with them from a more supportive position. Please get in touch with us about discounts.
If you are a fully licensed professional but still need financial considerations for the course (for example if you're a plural professional who is not currently in practice due to disability or other issues) then we can determine your suitability for the course and make arrangements for you to be included in the course at a rate that is suitable for you while still respecting our time and efforts to run this course.
Is this course fully accessible?
We will be providing both optional and required video & audio recordings along with written instructions, lectures & articles. We are willing to work hard to make the course materials fully accessible. Please let us know if you have any accessibility needs so we can provide you with transcripts and audio descriptions of audio or video used in this course, or audio recordings of text materials, if needed.
Why isn't (my favorite topic, this troubling issue, etc.) covered in the course?
If you think of something that ought to be covered, but is not, please let us know as soon as possible so we can figure out whether it needs to be in the course, and where to add it to the curriculum.
Why would you take this course through the services of a plural life coach?
- There are many principles of life coaching that therapists are starting to adopt into their therapy practice. These are positive changes to therapy practices such as being client-led, client-driven, client-focused. This is also in alignment with the consumer/survivor/recovery movement principles ("Nothing about us without us." and that your clients should have the autonomy and authority to choose their own recovery, in their own time — not someone else's plan on someone else's schedule).
- Mind you, therapy is still therapy, even when it borrows ideas or methodology from coaching. So client-led therapy is still therapy, even though coaching is inherently a client-led practice. You cannot both be a life coach and a therapist to the same client. There's a big difference in balance of power/control. But there are a lot of practices in coaching that therapists should be more aware of and learn from, which is all around our work on client empowerment for example.
- We are DID experts. We have over 300K hours of experience with dissociative identity disorder, internally and externally. This is not counting the cumulative time of our individual plural system residents, nor counting time with external plural systems twice. We live plurality, and we experience plurality as a third party. We have lived with plurals, had friends who are plural, clients who are plural, family who are plurals, etc. We have lived in plural-safe-spaces, taught plurals, written for plurals, worked as a plural, raised children as a plural, run a business as a plural… We can't escape being plural for a vacation, we go to sleep plural, we wake up plural… We took college courses as a plural, many on psychology (so don't worry about whether we understand industry jargon or can read a scientific research paper).
- Online, we deal with thousands of plural systems. We hear their stories, we lend support, we think about their problems and whether or not we are aware of possible solutions. We write articles and selves-help books for plurals, record podcast for plurals, and run conference sessions for plurals. We spend a lot of time around meeting tables in our internal world, and physical tables in the external world, brainstorming, ruminating, collaborating, and testing out possible ideas, metaphors, techniques, tools and paradigm shifts that other plurals could use to help improve their experience of each other inside, and of life in general by extension.
- Our materials and ideas are well-received by plurals, mainly because they're synthesized from topics and solutions that come up repeatedly in plural communities, 1:1 discussions with plurals, and things that work for us and other plurals. We're good at putting words to concepts that sometimes are elusive, and describing internal methodologies in ways that are accessible to plurals and the singulars who work with them. We have done small group workshops and coaching with dozens of plurals over the years testing out our ideas and we've helped many plural systems in a way that is exceptionally helpful for their healing and making progress in therapy.
- The overwhelming majority of training materials, books on DID, courses that touch on or concentrate on DID, DDs, trauma, PTSD, C-PTSD are written and framed from a singular-centric point of view. These materials are unsympathetic, full of hurtful paradigms and language that ostracizes clients, as well as rife with assumptions, misdirection, mistakes, and professional bias.
- Often the professional literature contains concepts without scientific documentation or evidence to back up these frameworks, and then they are propagated from the originating opinion or anecdotal materials to subsequent materials without subsequent authors asking whether or not there is any substantial evidence to back up the source's claims.
- Often clients work hard to re-train clinicians on framing and understanding their internal paradigms and perspectives, even to the point of guiding them to literature and studies on how to work with DID clients. This wastes precious paid time in therapy, and is both emotional labor, and quite likely medicaid fraud if it ever came to light. A client should not have to do this, certainly not on taxpayer's money. At minimum the plural client should be paid for this service to the professional, rather than the other way around. Imagine someone with major depression having to train their therapist on how to treat major depression. It doesn't fly. However most plurals can only speak to their own experiences, paradigms and perspectives, thus it's very possible this clinician's next DID client may have to re-train the therapist all over again. It's better to address a range of perceptions and ideas and paradigms with more generic models and ideas, to learn to have an open mind towards a range of plural experiences, to understand the underpinnings of internal worlds, internal relationships, and to change your expectations to be prepared for the scope of potential so it's easier to focus on where within that continuum of potential your particular clients are. It's our belief that you can only truly study this stuff with a plural system who has been steeped in plurality for many years, and for whom studying and working with plural systems is their life's work.
- Sometimes therapy is stalled or cancelled due to a lack of communication or even resistance to communication in the plural's system that stems from a lack of perspective coming from the professional, who can alienate or even anger people in their system. Preferential treatment of specific individual clients within the overall system can create rifts in trust, wreck rapport, create resentment between individuals within the clients' system. It's vital to address this and put this into practice so that sessions aren't undermined by the myths and stigma attached to plurality that filter into the therapeutic relationship.
- There are alternatives to attachment to the therapist that should be encouraged and will definitely be addressed in this program as an internal community dynamic. We understand internal dynamics in a unique way, and how to speak with your clients about how to achieve healthy attachments.
Why not wait for empirical research-based therapies?
- Science breaks all systems (as in systems theory) down to component parts and attempts to isolate them from their environment. It's actually not very good at working with whole systems, interactions between sub-systems, communication between the various component systems, and commerce between them. Then it attempts to build outward from the separated parts to the whole again — awkwardly. It will be decades if not full centuries before science can give you the answers to the issues we present in this course — if it even can (see other reasons below).
- Science focuses on empirical data and is still struggling to prove consciousness exists. It has not even gotten to addressing an entirely subjective people-problem within the plural system (internal community). If it can't deal with consciousness issues, how can it deal with plurality, which is (other than the underlying brain functions) all about consciousness?
- Research for DID and related issues is still often too busy working on whether or not DID really exists, and how to tell who is telling the truth. Thankfully it has moved on to studying underlying brain features such as the effects of PTSD and C-PTSD on brain structures, and issues such as polyvagal theory and so on which are the types of things science is more suited for. Yet still the conclusions are often framed as being helpful for debunking the resistance to our even existing (If you're interested in this course, we assume you already know that DID exists and don't need more proof.). Research is still lagging behind other culture's medical systems and even often common sense. For example it took until 2011 for science to finally "prove" that mindfulness and meditation are beneficial. Do you really want to wait for science to catch on to the interpersonal dynamics in a plural's subjective reality?
- Science spends pitifully little time or research money on improving our treatment options or honing the techniques practitioners in the field can employ to shorten the length of therapy or help the plural system deescalate distressing inner battles so they can work together (that's our life's work) and how plurals can be supported internally and less distracted or derailed during the work of healing from trauma (that's your job). It's time to make progress and cut down the treatment times so you can help more people.
- Research studies utilize very small N-groups, all DID subjects are hand-picked picked from therapy environments (often from "trusted therapist's offices"), all having already gone through the misdiagnosis and under-diagnosis period common for plurals with DID. It's impossible to know whether the results of any research or studies applies only to plurals who seek out and submit to therapy and have already passed the gatekeepers' perceptions of and willingness to apply this diagnosis. What about the rest of the 1-3% of the population that could qualify for a DID diagnosis, and all the other plurals who may have other mental health needs?
- Science knows nothing about plurals who are sub-clinical or simply do not qualify for a DID diagnosis. Example: a short-term plural client& who is working on grief. Most clinicians will attempt to dig to "catch" the client having DID problems, or label them OSDD, in denial, or hunt for issues of memory loss to "justify" slapping a label on them, consider them faking their plurality, etc. Humans exist on continuums, and not all plurals are disordered. Needing occasional therapeutic assistance is a normal part of existence. Not everything needs a pathology to want or need assistance with mental health (or other) issues.
What about the treatment standards?
- If you want clinical treatment standards please seek out the Blue Knot Foundation's standards from Australia. They're the current best-in-show. We have yet to fully review them, but have assurances from licensed plurals that they are a definite improvement.
- The ISSTD 2011 standards were the former best-in-show, but are currently being rewritten as the organization recognizes that they are dated, biased and incomplete given significant new findings in the field. In our opinion, the ISSTD standards further impart stigma to therapists regarding their clients. We suggest that if you have read them, you reconsider what you have learned from them.
- The latest work referenced in the 2011 standards is 2009, over a decade ago. There's much progress in research and in the field since 2009.
- There are significant concepts in the ISSTD guidelines that prevent internal community and set up conflict in a plural system and erode rapport between the plural system and their therapist. Notably, most of these concepts are unresearched, unproven, and unethical. They're simply carried forward by singular bias from previous works in the field without question.
- In 2019 we corresponded with the ISSTD on behalf of the plural community asking them to revise their treatment guidelines. They decided to rewrite them instead. In their letter back they said their task force will take about 2 years to rewrite them. I believe they have plural professionals who are members of the ISSTD on the task force — but the ISSTD board made no guarantees they would seek out or ensure plural community representation, review or involvement.
While no 2 systems are alike, there are definitely common experiences, and definable ranges of experience, that can be discussed as well as paradigms, lenses, techniques, understandings and advice that are helpful for working with plural systems. There are also milestones in internal group interactions and growth together as a whole that can generally be gauged and guided, inspiring the plural system to evolve in a healthy direction, and put a halt to any devolving and breaking down of trust and communication or a sense of community within the plural's system. Being familiar with these milestones, a practitioner can gauge and help their client correct any deficits in their plural system.
To be plural-friendly and plural-centric, a professional needs to be informed in the language plurals respond to, subjective experiences, identity issues, and common questions that plurals have that they may bring to therapy. Unfortunately, psychology-centric studies, documentation, books, manuals and guidelines are overwhelmingly created from a singular-centric lens and can create a great deal of cognitive dissonance for the plural client.
Why is this? If someone walked into your office but had a deeply subjective religious belief system that was different from your own, you would not (if you are an ethical therapist) try to change what they had experienced or try to convince them that their beliefs are not real. You may have your own deeply-held religious beliefs and religious experiences, but you know it's not your place to tell someone their religion is wrong and your own is right. The science of psychology has not yet asked the right questions or gathered proof regarding plural experiences, and its own beliefs in singular experience being "right" and plural experience being "wrong" are rooted only in theory and the biases of people in the industry, not experimentation and evidence.
A clinician should also be sensitive to clients who are exacerbating their dysfunction through denial, resistance, internalized oppression, internalized singular expectations they're attempting to cram their system into, and other issues that create friction, fighting, insecurities, panic, etc. for headmates and thus jeopardize any stability for the plural system.
This course comes from the point of view that it's not the therapist's job to change a client's deeply held beliefs, to reinforce their denial, or to heap on additional or encourage ill-fitting expectations. It's the therapist's job to help the client achieve the level of mental and emotional health and ability that they are seeking by helping them acknowledge, embrace and change their internal circumstances to suit their goals. Essentially — it is a good therapist's job to hand a client back their own power and help them get out of their own way so they may lead a productive life and make the changes they want to make via intrinsic motivations and a collection of tools the client and therapist collect and build together.
Furthermore, a good therapist will work within the client's belief system, not try to change their belief system. If progress causes the client to change their beliefs, it's the therapist's job to support them through that shift, and help them find anchors and stability even while their beliefs and paradigms are rearranging. But it's not the therapist's job to convince, pressure, cajole, preach, or push conflicting belief systems onto their clients.
How did you develop this program?
The materials are inspired by the successes of United Front Boot Camp, United Front self-help trilogy: Recruits, Rebels & Adventurers (still in active development), and the United Front Group Coaching pilot programs. We basically asked ourselves what licensed or certified singular folk would need to learn, and what competencies would they need to develop, in order to understand and guide plurals through the United Front materials, adapt materials to fit individual plural systems, and do less harm to any type of plural system during therapy overall.
United Front is specifically a progressive course of skills and competencies that plural systems develop to improve internal community. It take them from system anarchy through community governance by way of finding headmates, building trust, and building co-awareness and other competencies in a fairly structured way.
As such we are packaging & sharing the cumulative knowledge of 50+ years of living as a plural system with DID, having an undiagnosed DID parent, being friends, co-workers, and colleagues with myriad other plural & DID systems, over 25 years of self-help and recovery work both alone and with other plural systems, 20+ years of collaboration with plural systems on developing documentation to assist plurals in recovery, over 10 years and many hours of individual and group coaching practice with plurals, and myriad presentations, support groups, podcast materials, articles, self-help material development, etc. that has years of positive feedback from a variety of plural systems, etc.
We also have studied psychology, both in school and in independent study. We hear what our peers say about their therapists, we read what the industry has to say about trauma survivors, people with DID, treatment standards, and we review the peer-reviewed research. While we are not licensed and do not have a degree in psychology, we are a lifelong student of the art & science, and may very well have the equivalent amount of experience as many folk in active practice. When it comes to subjective experiences of plurality, however, we are definitely a subject-matter-expert, and that's where every training program or psychology book on plurality falls short.
We are in a unique position to assemble this program and bring it to you, and we will continue to develop and update the materials as needed.
Why now, why not wait until everything else is "done"?
We see active harm against plural & DID systems in the current methods used by therapists and in order to work more on other things we really need therapists we trust to take great care of plurals to refer to. We cannot wait for science to catch up to our knowledge and expertise, we have to share it with licensed and certified folk to help more plurals. This is an act of sharing and leverage to help as many other plurals as possible in as short a time as possible.
What we mean by active harm: practitioner malingering via misdiagnosis of clients, protracted therapy, active harm by way of boundary violations, power-control struggles during the therapeutic process, active abuse & retraumatization of clients, and worse. We think it's a crime that most plurals can look forward to 20 years of therapy to make significant progress towards a better life. Add to this that there's a whole majority of ignorant therapists sucking up time during therapeutic sessions being trained by their clients. We're not blaming you — the system is broken. Your educators have failed you.
We don't see any concentrated study correcting this final glaring flaw. Just some CEUs here and there on dissociation & trauma work. Nothing plural-centric, nothing deep and thorough, no training programs, etc. I don't think you'll find anything as immersive and complete as this anywhere else. It won't eliminate the need for further study of the latest methods of trauma work, as that is not our place nor our expertise, but you can leave this program armed with how to evaluate those other classes and programs, and how to reframe future study so that it's plural-positive and will actually work more effectively.