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Shades of Gray: When a therapist and her client are survivors of child abuse

Shades of Gray: When a therapist and her client are survivors of child abuse

by Lisa Cassidy

When are we far enough down the path of our own healing that we can safely go back and help someone else along? A therapist shares the story of confronting this urgent question with a traumatized client suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder.
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Not a case to wow you with

This story is about humanness, grayness, and uncertainty in practicing psychotherapy. It's not about the times I've wowed a client with my perceptiveness and incisive interpretations. Neither will I focus on times when I've made a clear misstep, like mixing up two clients' stories. This is about intentionally making an imperfect decision to accept a college student as a client who was suffering from the effects of severe childhood sexual and physical abuse, while I at the same time was dealing with my own similar past. In the case I will present, it later became clear that Callie was living with significant dissociation and identity confusion.
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The author is a licensed clinical psychologist who works in a small university counseling center in a rural section of the United States. She requested that her name be changed to protect the confidentiality of the client and her own privacy.
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CE credits: 1
Learning objectives:

• Recognize complex ethical and clinical dilemmas facing therapists with traumatic pasts when they take on clients with similar histories.
• Describe some of the author?s personal reactions to working with a sexually abused client suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder.
• Explain potential benefits of clinical supervision and consultation for experienced/licensed psychotherapists. 
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