personality disordersMeeting Your… | Counseling | Therapy

personality disordersMeeting Your System

Alex Robboy , CAS, MSW, ACSW, LCSW — Founder & executive director


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personality disordersMeeting Your System image

Meeting Your System is designed for people who have Dissociative Identity Disorder and have a basic understanding of their alters. One way to develop this understanding is by completing a DID Role/Roll Call Sheet. Once you have a basic understanding of your alters, the next step is to introduce them to each other. It is likely that some alters are aware of all of the others, while others may not know everyone. Getting your alters to know each other is the first step to having your system (all of your parts) work cooperatively with each other.

Planning the Meeting

In many ways planning a meeting between all of your alters and yourself is like planning any other social event. Use the steps below to help plan the meeting.

1) Create a Guest List: Refer to your Role/Roll Call Sheet. You will want to invite all of your alters, even the ones you might perceive as “bad.” You still need to know your “bad” alters because they are a part of you. In addition, it is important that everyone be invited so that everyone can have an opportunity to meet one another.

2) Pick a Venue: Decide where your system will meet. Consider where your alters currently live and what would be convenient to them. Many systems “live” in the host, in a house. If this is the case, consider building a “meeting room” in the house that will serve as a safe space where every one can meet each other. In the future you can use this room for additional meetings.

3) Decide a Date & Time: Consider when a good time for you and everyone would be to meet. To decide this, examine what roles and responsibilities your alters have. Write to each alter asking what day and time would be best for them to meet. Do child alters take naps in the afternoon? If so it might be a good idea to pick a time after their nap so they can be well rested.

4) Send Invitations: You need to make sure each of your guests hears about the meeting and knows they are invited. One way might be to write each alter in your journal or meet with them individually. Make sure to specify that the purpose of the meeting is to meet each other. Like any time you plan a social event, make sure to put a positive spin on the event. Describe it as a fun, casual meet and greet. It might be a good idea to have some snacks for people to enjoy. In the invitations make sure to include the ground rules of the meeting: respect the other guests, understand that the “meeting room” is a safe space, and participate in the meeting.

5) Wait for RSVPs: Make sure to specify in your invitations when you need to hear back about attending. Make sure the RSVP date is at least a week before the event. This will allow you enough time to talk to alters who may be resistant or fearful about their concerns about attending. Its likely that you will have at least one or two alters who will be hesitant about attending.

6) Reach out to the Nervous or Resistant Guests: Like any person, some of your alters may be nervous in social situations. Some of your alters might be scared about meeting new people. Others might resist the idea of meeting everyone if they have previously thought they were the only one living in your body. The idea that there are many of you could be quite shocking. In order to get everyone on board about attending the meeting, take time to meet with these alters individually to discuss their fears. If they are close with another alter who is attending the meeting, have them encourage the resistant alter to attend. Another way to reach out to a resistant or fearful alter is to journal to them. For some people it is easier to write about their fears or concerns rather than discuss them face to face. Make sure to emphasize that in order for the meeting to be successful and productive that ALL alters must attend.

Having the Meeting

1) Arrive Early to Set Up: All good hosts arrive early to their event to set up. Have snacks, drinks or maybe even some balloons. A welcome sign might be a nice gesture as well. Make sure the meeting room space looks warm and inviting. Remember, you want alters to feel positively about this space so that they use it in the future to meet with one another.

2) Introduce Your Guests To One Another: Use the beginning of your meeting as a time for people to mingle as others arrive. As your guests arrive make sure to introduce them to one another. If you see someone alone, try to pair that alter with another guest. Try and get them talking about something they have in common before you move on.

3) Set Aside Time to do Formal Introductions: About midway through your event, announce that you would like everyone to take a seat so you can welcome everyone. State your name and identify yourself as the host. Thank everyone for coming and making the meeting possible. Share that you hope this meeting will help everyone get to know one another and help you all work more effectively together. Next ask each guest to state their name, age and something unique about themselves.

4) Plan For Regular Meetings: After everyone is formally introduced, explain that you would like to hold daily meetings in which every alter should attend. Make sure to highlight that the purpose of the daily meetings would be for alters to discuss ongoing events and concerns they might have. This meeting time should also be used as a time for the group to problem solve. Have the group decide what time daily works best for meeting. Tell the alters that if they have concerns about the meetings to journal them to you or come and talk to you about them in person. Also explain that once the meetings get established you would like the leader to be a rotating role, so that each alter can experience leading and organizing a daily meeting.

5) End on a Positive Note: After the more serious discussion about daily meetings, allow your guests to casually talk amongst each other. Make sure to say goodbye to each alter as they leave and thank them again for attending.

After the Meeting

1) Say Thanks: Send a casual thank you note to each alter either via your journal or in person about how much you appreciate their attending.

2) Check In: Find time to touch base with each alter about how they thought the meeting went. Talk to them about their concerns about having daily meetings.

3) Reassure the Resistant Ones: You will likely need to spend more time with certain alters to get them on board about the idea of a daily meeting. Make sure to listen to their concerns. Validate their feelings about being nervous about starting this new tradition. Use this opportunity again to emphasize the benefits about having a daily meeting.

Moving forward…Understand that it may take some time for everyone to agree to meeting daily. It takes time for a new tradition to be established even if it is a positive tradition. Once everyone has met each other you can encourage other alters to reach out to the resistant alters. After meeting everyone you might also have a better sense of each alter’s personality traits, strengths and weaknesses. Record this new information and use it to help your system function more effectively.

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