Dissociative Disorder Treatment for Teens and Young Adults
Charlie Health is on a mission to connect the world to life-saving mental health treatment. Our virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) combines the accessibility of virtual care with the rigor of trauma-informed, evidence-based therapeutic modalities.
Dissociative disorders are just one category of complex mental health issues we support. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of dissociative disorders, their signs and symptoms, and how they’re diagnosed and treated at Charlie Health.
Treating dissociative disorders
Therapies that promote emotional regulation and address trauma-related symptoms are the primary approach to treating dissociative disorders, given their classification as trauma-related conditions. The following therapies are typically part of the treatment process:
Internal family systems (IFS) therapy
IFS therapy focuses on understanding and working with different parts of an individual’s personality and inner experience. This approach can help individuals with dissociative disorders by addressing internal conflicts between these parts and establishing a strong and centered self. Through internal dialogue and healing, IFS aims to resolve conflicts between parts and process traumatic memories. Creating a safe and nonjudgmental environment is essential, along with teaching self-soothing and grounding techniques to manage distress.
Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT)
TF-CBT is a specific therapy designed to help people who have experienced traumatic events cope with trauma-related symptoms. While not typically the primary treatment for dissociative disorders, TF-CBT can still help address certain symptoms and co-occurring mental health issues. Specifically, TF-CBT helps those with dissociative disorders learn about trauma, manage emotions, change negative thoughts, stay grounded, and understand their experiences.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills
DBT skills, initially developed for borderline personality disorder, are adaptable for various complex mental health conditions, including dissociative disorders. While not the primary treatment for dissociative disorders, DBT skills can complement specialized therapies. For those with dissociative disorders, DBT skills can improve mindfulness, emotion and crisis management, and identity perception.
In their words
Client & family testimonials
“This program saved my life.”
I came to CH with so much trauma and undiagnosed mental health issues. I couldn’t see how things could possibly get better for me, but Charlie Health gave me reason to keep going, to keep trying. This program saved my life.
“After my first group session, I left smiling.”
When I got to Charlie Health, I was in a place where I did not want to accept any more help. I was fresh out of the hospital and had seen my fair share of therapists and psychiatrists. I was put in Charlie Health by hospital staff because it was the one thing I was sort of open to. After my first group session, I left smiling. That was the first time I showed a genuine smile in 7 months. It wasn’t overnight or in one Zoom meeting that I felt better, but over the weeks in Charlie Health, I connected and shared with people in ways I had been very closed off to just weeks before. I loved my time here, and I looked forward to group every day. Even if I didn’t share, I still enjoyed it. I love Charlie Health and thank them for getting me out of place I never thought I could.
“Charlie Health helped me feel again.”
I was numb to all emotions for nearly a decade, but Charlie Health helped me feel again. I learned that it’s okay to feel differently than what society might think.
How does Charlie Health treat dissociative disorders?
Charlie Health takes an affirming approach to treating dissociative disorders, emphasizing respect, belief, and individualized care for every client.
We help clients feel more secure and stable by increasing co-communication between various parts of the host system, identifying triggers, and teaching ways to cope with past traumas.
At Charlie Health, we prioritize a trauma-informed clinical framework, as well, because dissociative disorders are often trauma-based. We are committed to integrating cutting-edge, trauma-informed methods into treatment to best support clients with dissociative disorders.
What are the challenges of treating dissociative disorders?
Treating dissociative disorders poses several significant challenges.
First, diagnosis is complex since dissociative disorder symptoms overlap with other mental health conditions, and people may be hesitant to disclose symptoms due to stigma or a lack of awareness. Once the condition is diagnosed, the treatment itself can be challenging, usually requiring the skills of specialized mental health professionals, a variety of therapeutic methods, and revisiting past traumas. These disorders can be most challenging to diagnose in young people since adolescence is a time of significant psychological development, which can affect how dissociative symptoms present.
Patience, persistence, and a commitment to providing a safe and supportive therapeutic environment are essential for addressing the unique challenges of dissociative disorders effectively.
FAQs on dissociative disorders
What’s the definition of dissociative disorders?
Dissociative disorders are a group of mental health conditions characterized by a disconnection or fragmentation of one’s consciousness, identity, memory, or perception of reality. These disruptions in normal psychological functioning can lead to symptoms such as amnesia, identity confusion, and a sense of detachment from oneself or one’s surroundings.
What are the main signs and symptoms of dissociative disorders?
- Depersonalization: Feeling disconnected or detached from one’s own body, thoughts, emotions, or experiences.
- Derealization: Experiencing the external world as unreal, dreamlike, or distorted.
- Amnesia: Significant gaps in memory, which may be related to personal information, events, or periods of time.
- Identity confusion: A sense of not knowing who one is or having multiple, distinct identities or personality states.
- Emotional disturbances: Intense and often rapid changes in mood.
What are the main types of dissociative disorders?
- Dissociative identity disorder (DID): Formerly known as multiple personality disorder, DID is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct identity states that control a person’s behavior, consciousness, and memory. Each identity state may have its own unique traits, memories, and behaviors.
- Dissociative amnesia: This involves significant gaps in memory not explained by other medical conditions, often related to traumatic events or stressors.
- Depersonalization-derealization disorder: This disorder is marked by recurrent experiences of depersonalization (feeling detached from oneself) and derealization (feeling disconnected from or that the world is unreal or distorted).
- Other specified dissociative disorder (OSDD): This category includes dissociative disorders that don’t fully meet the criteria for the above three disorders but still involve significant dissociative symptoms.
- Unspecified dissociative disorder: This category is used when the symptoms and experiences of dissociation are present but do not fit the criteria for any specific dissociative disorder. It can be used for atypical dissociative disorder cases or for people who have dissociative symptoms but not to the extent required for a formal diagnosis.
How common are dissociative disorders?
Compared to many other mental health conditions, dissociative disorders are generally considered rare. Dissociative identity disorder (DID) and depersonalization-derealization disorder each affect around 1% of the population, at most. However, the conditions are likely underdiagnosed since the symptoms overlap with other mental health conditions.
What are the main causes of dissociative disorders?
- Trauma and abuse, including a history of severe trauma, childhood abuse, physical or sexual abuse, emotional neglect, or witnessing violence
- Disruptions in childhood attachment and development or a lack of a secure emotional bond with caregivers
- Genetics and family history
- Certain personality traits, such as a tendency to be highly suggestible or to engage in dissociative coping strategies, may increase vulnerability to dissociative disorders
- High levels of chronic stress or exposure to multiple stressors
Dissociative disorder treatment at Charlie Health
We specialize in helping people with complex mental health issues – including dissociative disorders – find healing within a personalized treatment program.
Our virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is designed for teens and young adults who require more than once-weekly therapy and who are looking to connect with peers facing similar mental health struggles. We employ the leading evidence-based clinical practices along with mindfulness, creative arts, and experiential therapies to create curated treatment plans that foster long-term healing.
Virtual IOP at Charlie Health is where you’ll find your group and grow together. We can’t wait to connect with you. Get started today.