How To Help


One of the biggest challenges in dealing with the effects of dissociation is knowing how to help yourself or the person with dissociative issues. This is still a relatively new and unexplored field of healing, and as such, there is little readily available information.

What I offer here are tidbits of information upon which you can build a foundation for approaching and dealing with dissociation-related issues and situations.


Top 9 How to Help Tips

These tips are useful for anyone dealing with a person experiencing intrusive dissociative symptoms. They are the points I repeat again and again, obvious to me, but welcomed as novel and valuable by other people. So I figure it must be important to share them!
1. Respect Body Space – Ask before touching or moving in close, adjust scents, sounds, etc. as much as possible. Their mind and space are already extra full, so they can be easily overwhelmed.
2. Set and Define Clear Boundaries – It helps not to have to guess where the lines are!
3. Ask About and Help Name Feelings and Perceptions – Dissociated feelings and perceptions are a swirly mess, describing and naming them can help the person gain clarity, which then aids their feeling of being capable of dealing with them.
4. LISTEN – Be caring, courteous, open-minded.
5. VALIDATE – Their feelings and experiences are real for them, regardless of what you believe or what actually occurred.
6. Help Ground in Present Reality – Encourage them to breathe and focus on their present senses. – Get them to feel their feet on the ground, their bottom on the chair, their hands, shoulders, ears then nose. Ask them, what do they smell? What sounds can be heard nearby? What are they feeling? Where is that feeling in their body? Can they describe that feeling, give it a color? Etc…
7. Find Strengths – Re-frame Out-dated Survival Skills Into Skills and Abilities Useful in Present – Can and will the exact opposite of a given skill serve the person better? Can a task be reassigned to a new purpose? For example, can a part taught to keep track of certain dates or numbers in relation to the abuse instead keep track of appointments and things like meal and bed times? Or maybe a guard part can be responsible for making sure the house/apartment/etc. is locked up properly for the night and when the person leaves to go out. Etc…
8. Only Make Promises You Can Keep!Their life has been full of lies and deceit. Be someone they can truly trust, or at least don’t add to their list of betrayers!
9. DON’T RESCUE – Help Them Find Their Own Solutions – They most likely came to believe they are incapable, useless and worthless. If you rescue them, then you reinforce their learned helplessness. Instead choose to brainstorm with them, or otherwise help them discover and use their own inner resourcefulness. Although this resourcefulness was primarily used for survival in the past it is now a strength that can be drawn upon to benefit them in the present.