Secondary Trauma Issues for Psychiatrists Treating Dissociative Identity Disorder

Trauma therapists have a difficult job and I respect them for their attempts to help people suffering the fallout from the past.

In my experience, those with multiple personalities and the subsequent treatment for Dissociative Identity Disorder are needy and require attention and intervention on a constant basis. In addition to regular therapy sessions, there are often emergencies that again require the attention of a mental health care provider quickly.

The pressure on therapists to provide constant oversight of their patients must be tremendously stressful. Thankfully, most therapists who diagnose and treat Dissociative Identity Disorder have a light case load.



Secondary Trauma Issues for Psychiatrists
By Joseph A. Boscarino, PhD, MPH, Richard E. Adams, PhD, and Charles R. Figley, PhD

Psychiatric Times. Vol. 27 No. 11, 2010

“Psychiatrists face growing challenges both as health practitioners and as sources of reassurance and empathy for their patients. But what if the effort to understand and help patients itself becomes a burden? The purpose of this article is to provide a brief overview of what we know about secondary trauma—frequently called compassion fatigue or vicarious trauma. …

Secondary traumatization also affects other health care professionals, including
those who work with patients with AIDS or cancer or who are involved in
critical care or hospice care. …it has been suggested that providing
therapy to patients who have experienced a traumatic event can be especially emotionally difficult.

Specifically, therapists who work with traumatized patients often show signs of psychological distress, including symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which appears to result from “vicarious” traumatization. Thus, it appears that providing psychotherapy to traumatized patients puts therapists at risk for mental health problems.”

Retrieved 21/22/11. Full PDF

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  1. Yes it is emotionally draining to help my wife heal, and I’m called upon by the needs of the little girls to sacrifice my own personal needs over and over just like a GOOD parent is called upon to sacrifice their needs at times for their children. Unfortunately the professionals think they can help trauma victims but “keep their hands from getting dirty.” But when they take this “aloof” approach the trauma victims recognize it for what it is: they are still alone in the fight to overcome the trauma and it significantly slows the healing process (imo).



    • Hi Sam, How are you doing? Is your wife making progress? Hope so. Best,


      • Hey Jeanette,

        my wife is making phenomenal progress. She’s largely outgrown her d.i.d. boards because she and the little girls are so far past where most of the other ladies are that she doesn’t fit anymore. And she and 5 of the little girls are working together very well now. We only have 2 girls left to bring outside and then I hope we will be done. No drugs, no mental breakdowns, no suicide issues, hardly any self-injury issues (which we are long past at this point) and hardly any depression other than it’s very hard on me and Karen as we focus on healing the little girls. But it’s worth it to see them heal and grow and to miss all the crap that the ISSTD group thinks is “normal” for the healing process.

        Take care.



        • Good for you! Thanks for sharing your family updates. I am very please to know that Karen is beyond the DID boards. Not fitting in at those chat rooms is progress for sure – in my book.

          I am quite impressed. Hoping 2012 sees you closer to your goals. Be well. JB



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