Choosing a Counselor For Dissociation

Dissociation | Borderline Personality | Anxiety | Depression | Addiction

Has coping with life become difficult? Do you struggle with radical mood changes? 

Are you ready to take that courageous step?

What is Dissociation?

"My name is Sarah. I am on Eric Groh's website. It is Thursday night January 5th 2014. Things in my life have gotten really bad. I've been having panic attacks all week. I got home from work about two hours ago and began searching for help and Eric appeared on the first page of Google. So here I am...

I have a really heavy work week and need to have a project completed by next week. I'm so confused. I can become completely disoriented at times. I'm going to call Eric. I'm frightened because it seems to be getting worse. But I'm also excited because I think he can help me finally work through my painful past."

The above is an example of someone who is not dissociating-- 'I know who I am, where I am, have a consciousness of past present and future. I am aware.' But she is also aware that sometimes she dissociates.

Dissociation occurs when there is a disruption in time, space, place, consciousness and awareness, memory, and identity--none of it is working together. What is happening in the present, you believe is a past event ("flashbacks"). And so on.

Also, everyone dissociates. "Highway hypnosis" occurs when you drive from home to work and don't remember the drive.

Diagnosing Dissociative Disorders

In order to treat dissociative disorders, the mental health professional needs to know how to diagnose them. This is important since there are many symptoms that overlap with other mental health disorders. Panic attacks, depression and anxiety, psychotic symptoms and radical changes in mood can all be other disorders.

Of the many dissociative clients I have treated, if they have been previously diagnosed by a psychiatrist roughly 75% have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Also, psychotic depression and schizophrenia are sometimes mistaken for dissociative disorders--and vice-versa.

Maybe your psychiatrist has suggested that compulsive sexual behavior is a symptom of bipolar disorder. It can be, but not necessarily. Compulsive sexual behavior can also be related to trauma and dissociation. It's important to understand that psychiatrists treat symptoms. This is why medications for all of the above symptoms can still be helpful. 

Still, if you have a dissociative disorder it must be diagnosed properly or it can't be treated.

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If you are committed to your therapy, we will work together to resolve acute distress. This can often happen in only a few weeks. We will target panic anxiety, difficulty sleeping and nightmares, episodes of "darkness", serious thoughts of suicide. We will discuss your experiences with psychiatric medication. We will also work together to help you "stay in the present" more often and for longer periods of time. As a result you will begin to feel a sense of control in your life.

I look forward to speaking with you. All of my clients are unique. Like snowflakes. Including you.

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and other Dissociation

DID is often missed. Primarily because a therapist or psychiatrist may not know the signs of it so they won't ask you the right questions. On the other hand, sometimes individuals have been mistakenly told they are DID. Or you may have a milder version. It's equally important that your therapist can help you know the difference.

Other Types of Dissociation

The vast majority of people who dissociate are not DID. A characteristic disruption in memory is one of the most telling signs that a clinician should ask about other dissociative symptoms. You may have out-of-body experiences, not recognizing yourself in a mirror and feel your surroundings are unreal. There are many many facets, types, forms and manifestations of dissociative symptoms. I will help you sort through these so you can begin to piece together your experience and recover.

Substance Use

Be prepared to discuss this. It can be critical to your recovery from trauma.

Painful Unhealthy Relationships

You have it all together. You work for a public relations firm. It is a well paying job. You travel and negotiation and relationship building is an important part of your work. Your accounts are prominent firms and individuals. You excel. You have a large social network. You seemingly have it all together...except intimate relationships. Self destructive and self-defeating relationship patterns are likely a struggle if you have a dissociative disorder. We will work together to help you find peace, tranquility and stability in your relationships. 

Borderline Personality Disorder

"Cluster B" Personality disorders commonly co-occur with dissociative disorders. In fact, it is a bit rare that one with borderline personality disorder doesn't have some dissociative symptoms. Borderline personality is challenging to diagnose and it is important to know there are many varying degrees and manifestations of it. Also common with borderline personality is self harming or 'cutting' behavior. I can help you manage symptoms related to borderline personality disorder.

Do I need to label my diagnosis?

Sometimes. Sometimes not. You may personally find it helpful to put a name to your symptoms. Sometimes labeling is either not very useful, can put yourself in a box, or can stand in the way of normalizing your struggles. After all, dissociative symptoms are normal. They are not healthy to have as an adult, but they were at one time a beautiful way of surviving overwhelming psychological experiences.

Do I need to tell my loved ones and friends my diagnosis?

Again, sometimes. Sometimes not. I can help you determine when, what and how, and how much you need to share with others. Sharing on a need-to-know basis will become easier as you gain a better understanding of yourself.