Dissociative Disorders

The goals of treatment for dissociative disorders are to help the patient safely recall and process painful memories, develop coping skills, and, in the case of dissociative identity disorder, to integrate the different identities into one functional person. It is important to note that there is no drug that deals directly with treating dissociation itself. Rather, medications are used to combat additional symptoms that commonly occur with dissociative disorders.

Psychotherapy

Different psychotherapies are used to treat dissociative episodes to decrease symptom frequency and improve coping strategies for the experience of dissociation. Some of the more common therapies include: 

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps change the negative thinking and behavior associated with depression. The goal of this therapy is to recognize negative thoughts and to teach coping strategies.
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) focuses on teaching coping skills to combat destructive urges, regulate emotions and improve relationships while adding validation. Involving individual and group work, DBT encourages practicing mindfulness techniques such as meditation, regulated breathing and self-soothing.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. It combines the CBT techniques of re-learning thought patterns with visual stimulation exercises to access traumatic memories and replace the associated negative beliefs with positive ones.