An Alternative to Working Only Through the Adult Self in DID

There is some current controversy over whether it is necessary to work directly with all dissociative parts or only to work with parts through the “adult self” in clients with DID. This workshop will describe problems that have led some clinicians to emphasize working solely through the adult self, such as dependency of child parts, chaotic switching, and unwillingness of the adult self of the client to engage in treatment. We will explore what we are really trying to achieve by requesting an “adult part” in the room, that is, to ensure the client can engage in a cooperative therapeutic endeavor. An alternative that allows for more flexibility in working directly with part as needed will be offered. We will focus on three main issues: (1) how to access capacities in the client that are required to engage in effective psychotherapy: the ability to be present, to access and regulate emotion, to work cooperatively with the therapist, to share subjective experience, and to reflect; (2) how to decide when it is to the client’s benefit to work through an adult part or more directly with other parts; and (3) how to engage the entire systems of parts in each session.

This session was originally presented as a live conference session in May 2020.

Target Audience


Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this session participants will be able to:

  • Describe rationale for working through the adult self, as well as the pros and cons of this approach
  • List capacities needed for a client to engage in effective psychotherapy
  • Discuss ways to engage the entire system of parts in each session
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 3.00 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 3.00 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
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Presenter: Kathy Steele, MN, CS
Presenter Bio:  Kathy Steele, MN, CS has been in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia for over three decades. She is also an Adjunct Faculty at Emory University. Kathy is a Fellow and a past President of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), and is the recipient of a number of awards for her clinical and published works, including the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from ISSTD. She has authored numerous publications in the field of trauma and dissociation, including three books. She is sought as a consultant and supervisor, and as an international lecturer on topics related to trauma, dissociation, attachment, and psychotherapy.

Available Credit

  • 3.00 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 3.00 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.


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"Your Price" above reflects your final price based on your membership status and career level. 

  • ISSTD defines a student as those enrolled in a program of study leading to a degree or certification in the mental health field and who have an interest in trauma and dissociation. 
  • ISSTD defines an emerging professional as mental health professionals who have completed an advanced degree and are in the first three years of their career (or first three years after graduation for researchers).
  • If you do not fall into one of the above categories please register as Professional/Retired. 

These prices are for Tier I countries. For a list of countries by Tier click here. If you are located in a country that falls into Tier II-VI please contact ISSTD at to receive the appropriate discount code.