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Avoid, explain, replace

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Avoid, explain, replace

Postby Sarandipity » Tue Nov 05, 2019 6:43 pm

The thread this was on got locked and I don't know if I'm allowed to start a discussion on it but it won't be posted if it's not ok so I suppose I have nothing to worry about.

I'd not heard this until I read it here. Briefly considering it I realised it's exactly the treatment I've had. It's served me well until it's failed.

When in psychotherapy for three years I learnt to avoid my parents (because I knew they triggered my illness I just didn't know fully why). Then the psychotherapist said I needed to learn to mother myself, which I did, I am a mother and did alot of parenting classes on how to parent because I wanted to be different to my parents so that worked. I didn't need to replace her physically because purely the lack of her being around added so much to my life and took the negative impact of her out of it. When doubtful of this choice (which I 100% no longer am now but it did used to happen, I doubt the choose or feel guilty or tell myself she's not so bad) I would remind myself of the effect she has and the neglectful and emotionally abusive things she did to me as a child. My father wasn't so much an issue because I rarely saw him anyway and his psychological impact wasn't that great, his abuse was always more physical (until recently I'd blocked all SA memory).

So this "avoid, explain, replace" works for periods of time but when you have dissociation and the avoiding is a parent after a few years the denial comes in more and more, you get more comfortable, your awareness dips and the boundaries lapse. Then BAM you're overwhelmed by the abuser again and life falls apart.

Also this "avoid, explain, replace" does not go anywhere near to tackling the actual issue of a dissociated psyche. It doesn't help gel you together or deal with underlining issues or integrate. It doesn't solve daily life issues of "where did I park the car" or "who is that" or the terrible relationship issues I have because of long term abuse. Friendship is ok but put me in a romantic relationship and it's always terrible. We all relive our relationships and attachments we form as a child with our partners so this doesn't help. I did domestic abuse course, they did help other than I now recognise when I'm being abused, they don't help to teach you how to bond. And none of this helps you be more unified as a person or psyche or even a system.

Is this standard treatment for DID? because if it is then I don't see the point of me doing it.
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Re: Avoid, explain, replace

Postby salted lipstick » Wed Nov 06, 2019 2:35 pm

Safety is the first and most important step of therapy. If you are around your abuser and they have the opportunity to manipulate and abuse you, then it really makes it very difficult to accomplish much else during your therapy because you either need to constantly work on re-establishing your safety or on working out why you aren't re-establishing your safety. I've never heard this called specifically "avoid, explain, replace" so perhaps your therapist was into some specific method that gives names like this?

It is normal to have periods of denial and have boundaries lapse I think, abusers have a grip on us for a reason... Without having safety from that, it is difficult to think about why you (insert relevant problem here - not finding the car, not remembering people, relationship issues etc)... Without safety from an abuser you are constantly thinking about issues related to the abuser in the present rather than being able to focus on what needs to be healed from the past to help resolve the current issues.
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Re: Avoid, explain, replace

Postby Rive » Wed Nov 06, 2019 3:02 pm

I talked to my therapist about it. It is not a DID treatment but a behavioral type treatment. I can see where it may be helpful for troubles with child alters. She said it's ok to use it though. Like I said my T is not a DID trained though.
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Re: Avoid, explain, replace

Postby Sarandipity » Wed Nov 06, 2019 6:58 pm

salted lipstick wrote:Safety is the first and most important step of therapy. If you are around your abuser and they have the opportunity to manipulate and abuse you, then it really makes it very difficult to accomplish much else during your therapy because you either need to constantly work on re-establishing your safety or on working out why you aren't re-establishing your safety. I've never heard this called specifically "avoid, explain, replace" so perhaps your therapist was into some specific method that gives names like this?

It is normal to have periods of denial and have boundaries lapse I think, abusers have a grip on us for a reason... Without having safety from that, it is difficult to think about why you (insert relevant problem here - not finding the car, not remembering people, relationship issues etc)... Without safety from an abuser you are constantly thinking about issues related to the abuser in the present rather than being able to focus on what needs to be healed from the past to help resolve the current issues.


She didn't use those terms, I saw the term here and thought about what the therapy I had actually did. It makes sense what you're saying that you can't think about anything else properly when you're on edge even if you don't realise you're on edge. Because I do feel much better in the situation of clear no contact. My life is better, I can focus on things better.
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Re: Avoid, explain, replace

Postby MeMyselfMaureen » Wed Nov 06, 2019 8:50 pm

My T is PTSD specialist who has branched out into DID.

Avoid Explain Replace isn't supposed to be the only therapy for DID its just one of the tools to be used in the phase 1 stage. Specifically for moving alters away from behaviors that might endanger you (the whole person) to behaviors that still address the need but are "safe". Sadly I shall not find out what the next stage of therapy is because I have used up my allotted NHS funded sessions and I can't afford any more than a handful of sessions privately. :cry:
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Re: Avoid, explain, replace

Postby Sarandipity » Fri Nov 08, 2019 3:45 pm

MeMyselfMaureen wrote:My T is PTSD specialist who has branched out into DID.

Avoid Explain Replace isn't supposed to be the only therapy for DID its just one of the tools to be used in the phase 1 stage. Specifically for moving alters away from behaviors that might endanger you (the whole person) to behaviors that still address the need but are "safe". Sadly I shall not find out what the next stage of therapy is because I have used up my allotted NHS funded sessions and I can't afford any more than a handful of sessions privately. :cry:


I emailed the place where I'd like to have therapy. Then I looked on their website and watched a video about their therapy and it looked ok. It didn't look like the avoid etc. I can see how it's helpful in behaviour but I can't see it helping the actual DID.

Sorry to hear you're not getting more help.
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Re: Avoid, explain, replace

Postby Floralie » Fri Nov 08, 2019 6:44 pm

I see how this is useful, but the ways to use it are just very limited, and like others have commented, it's just helping with some urges, but it doesn't help with DID.

There's the important part of taking responsibility as a whole and that's why it's not useless, it's very different thing to give littles or traumaparts things they want vs things they need. SOME wants are of course fine, but more complex ones, this doesn't help with them enough. To be safe it's first aid to be able to end the behavior, but finding a real cause if it's in trauma and replacing it with something that would rather cure the trauma than just give a reward really aren't there.

It's pretty basic thing in learning, that the one you're trying to teach new ways to behave, is the one who "decides" what reward is enough, what things they find rewarding. If you can reward with the same thing that you need to take away from from some other place, it's great, but there are lot of things that aren't replaced that easily. Like when little wants their mom back and is gonna go back to abusers. You can't reward them with new, better mom when they don't go back to abusive one. In therapy there's a lot of grieving too, when you realize what you have lost and can't replace.

I think this works with simple things, harmless things like littles eating candies, but is way too hard to try to do alone with behaviors that have their roots in trauma. Then this is the first aid, to end the behavior for safety, but finding the true reasons and reasoning and working with how to understand harmful from safe, it's way harder to see and help yourself with, especially if you blend with the one with the behavior.

DID is about deep emotional stuff, not about behaviors.

I mean even the most basic dog's trick training isn't that simple people used to think. It is about rewarding the right behavior, but how to do that is not that simple. When you reward, you reward way more things than the one you tried to, for example the emotional state. And if you're not aware, you may create more problems than solve them. And it's pretty much like this with dogs too, you can reward right behaviors to teach them how to behave in human world, they don't know that naturally. Trick training still isn't nowhere near enough to help dogs with real problems, like separation anxiety. It's about feelings, not behaviors, correcting behaviors don't cure the reasons, so they're just gonna come up with new behavior if old one is taken away from them, but the anxiety is still there.

In phase one trauma therapy you don't do the trauma work, it's only after you know how to regulate yourself and stay grounded better, so with very limited time it's still better not to look too deep.

It's unfair tho, that people who are traumatized in areas that prevent them from studying and/or working like they would be able without trauma, are the ones that are gonna be left without proper help. And people who are functional enough to work normally can afford good therapies. I struggle with same problem too. Integration would take at least 8 years, but I have 3. It's way more than few months like for MeMyselfMaureen, but still not even half of the required time. But that's why we work a bit differently, more with natural flow and what comes up. Now, after a year there's more trauma stuff coming up and we don't avoid it. It's not trauma memories, just feelings linked with trauma.
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Re: Avoid, explain, replace

Postby Sarandipity » Mon Nov 11, 2019 10:46 pm

Floralie wrote:I see how this is useful, but the ways to use it are just very limited, and like others have commented, it's just helping with some urges, but it doesn't help with DID.

There's the important part of taking responsibility as a whole and that's why it's not useless, it's very different thing to give littles or traumaparts things they want vs things they need. SOME wants are of course fine, but more complex ones, this doesn't help with them enough. To be safe it's first aid to be able to end the behavior, but finding a real cause if it's in trauma and replacing it with something that would rather cure the trauma than just give a reward really aren't there.

It's pretty basic thing in learning, that the one you're trying to teach new ways to behave, is the one who "decides" what reward is enough, what things they find rewarding. If you can reward with the same thing that you need to take away from from some other place, it's great, but there are lot of things that aren't replaced that easily. Like when little wants their mom back and is gonna go back to abusers. You can't reward them with new, better mom when they don't go back to abusive one. In therapy there's a lot of grieving too, when you realize what you have lost and can't replace.

I think this works with simple things, harmless things like littles eating candies, but is way too hard to try to do alone with behaviors that have their roots in trauma. Then this is the first aid, to end the behavior for safety, but finding the true reasons and reasoning and working with how to understand harmful from safe, it's way harder to see and help yourself with, especially if you blend with the one with the behavior.

DID is about deep emotional stuff, not about behaviors.

I mean even the most basic dog's trick training isn't that simple people used to think. It is about rewarding the right behavior, but how to do that is not that simple. When you reward, you reward way more things than the one you tried to, for example the emotional state. And if you're not aware, you may create more problems than solve them. And it's pretty much like this with dogs too, you can reward right behaviors to teach them how to behave in human world, they don't know that naturally. Trick training still isn't nowhere near enough to help dogs with real problems, like separation anxiety. It's about feelings, not behaviors, correcting behaviors don't cure the reasons, so they're just gonna come up with new behavior if old one is taken away from them, but the anxiety is still there.

In phase one trauma therapy you don't do the trauma work, it's only after you know how to regulate yourself and stay grounded better, so with very limited time it's still better not to look too deep.

It's unfair tho, that people who are traumatized in areas that prevent them from studying and/or working like they would be able without trauma, are the ones that are gonna be left without proper help. And people who are functional enough to work normally can afford good therapies. I struggle with same problem too. Integration would take at least 8 years, but I have 3. It's way more than few months like for MeMyselfMaureen, but still not even half of the required time. But that's why we work a bit differently, more with natural flow and what comes up. Now, after a year there's more trauma stuff coming up and we don't avoid it. It's not trauma memories, just feelings linked with trauma.


It's ok untill it all falls down. It's ok to change behaviour and "live normally" it's possible. But when something happens and the system melts down you're back at square one and the old patterns kick in. The patterns learnt by being abused which are harmful patterns. It's not possible to stop it. It has to be ridden out and then at some point you maybe get back to where you can sort out the behaviours again. I'm in the riding out the pattern stage atm. I threw my life in the bin and am starting over. Trying to be kind to myself, trying to give parts time, trying to be self caring. All because I let my gaurd slip and parents started being in my childrens lives to the point I felt it was unsafe and a part of me called and reported past abuse.

Telling is bad, I realised that's what has happened, it's so ingrained that telling is bad that I threw my life in the bin. Now I'm trying to rebuild it but I can't do things I used to do because those parts are now traumatized from the telling because they didn't know about the reported abuse. So when it came to talking to the police it was a waste of time and they said "you could be making it up" I'm not putting myself through hell to be told that so I'm now trying to build a life out of the rubble of my old one - old pattern. It feels neverending and it's enough to make anyone want to give up.
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(Silent Lake : The Overlord/Mr BrightsideThe Whisperers (whisper whats outside), The Lightbringers (shine on parts to front), Martin and Janet (children with tails and wings)).
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