I’ve got 20 minutes to talk at the World Hearing Voices Congress about supporting someone through a dissociative crisis. It’s happening in a couple of weeks so I’ve been working on it recently. I met up with Bridges co-facilitator Ben, and we nutted through some ideas until it coalesced into a coherent framework. I love that process. I tend to need to bounce off someone else to think clearly and plan something like this. There’s such a sense of satisfaction about taking the amorphous and ephemeral and being able to find some kind of underlying theme or order to them.
When I asked other people about what they find helpful or not helpful when they have been in a dissociative crisis, I got exactly the answers I was expecting – which is to say, a very high level of contradictory responses. At first this seems hopeless – it’s so much easier to be able to give a straightforward answer – if A, do B. This is the medical model – if infection, give antibiotics. The nature of what helps with dissociative crisis is highly individual, so much so that what will be of great help to one person will make another drastically worse.
But it isn’t hopeless. Many people who have these kinds of experiences are able to be very articulate about what will and won’t work for them. One of the simplest things you can do is just to ask and invite information. If the person is a stranger to you and not able to give you any of that information, there are still many things you can try, within a framework of useful principles such as those of Trauma Informed Care. Having a broad understanding of the kinds of things that people may find useful gives you a bit of focus for a trial-and-error approach with someone in crisis, so I’ll be going into those.
I’m giving this talk free here in SA next week for everyone who can’t attend the conference. Here’s a link to the flyer with all the details. Feel free to share it around, it’s aimed at everyone, staff, people with dissociation, family and friends. You’re welcome to come along. 🙂
Edit: Update, this talk has been postponed due to illness – new dates will be provided soon.