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In the last section, we discussed personality histories. The four basic lines of questioning we examined to obtain a personality history are naming each personality, determining physical aspects of the alter, determining perceived function, and chaining.
In this section, we will discuss behavioral contracts. This section will focus on initial stabilization of the dissociative identity disorder client through the use of behavioral contracts to set limits on non productive behavior and to promote more adaptive behavior. Therefore, the purpose of this section is to provide comprehensive methods and goals of initiating a behavioral contract.
Putnam describes three steps for writing a contract. These three steps are specificity as to what is required from each personality, determining the consequences for contract violations, and length and termination of contracts. As you listen to this section, compare my behavioral contract methods with your own. How are they similar? How might they differ?
Putnam's Three Steps for Writing a Behavioral Contract
♦ #1 Specificity As to What is Required from Each Personality
When I made Alan’s contract, I spent some time discussing the contract with as many of his alters as I could get to participate in the process. Do you agree that it can be helpful to invite each alter out one at a time to negotiate, comment on, or contribute to the contract’s format and provisions? When Alan and I agreed that we had arrived at a satisfactory draft, I again invited any holdouts to come out or be bound to the contract.
You may find it helpful to include in the contract that any personality who does not emerge and negotiate will be expected by yourself and the personality system to honor the contract. Could you perhaps meet a new personality at this point?
♦ #2 Determining the Consequences for Contract Violations
For example, when I asked Alan what he thought might be a good solution for Vaughn’s drinking binges, Alan stated, "Let that son of a bitch deal with his own hangovers! And when he brings a strange woman home, let him wake up next to her!" Also, you might find it helpful to specify length of time in the body. So your contract might use limiting that time as a consequence.
In addition, I try to avoid focusing too much on consequences. By rewarding alters for honoring contractual obligations, Alan also benefited in that his alters had incentives for good behavior as well as consequences for undesirable behavior. What reward system might benefit your client?
♦ #3 Length and Termination of Contracts
♦ Common Problems with Contracts
Because contracts should focus on the type and duration of therapy, dangerous behavior, and therapeutic boundaries, I prefer to avoid involvement in personality prohibition. For example, when Vaughn attempted to monopolize Alan’s therapy time, I simply let him burn himself out and later spoke to Alan about how he might control Vaughn during future sessions. Otherwise, I find that it becomes easy to become involved in internal conflicts, which make it harder to foster internal communications. What problems do you experience when negotiating behavioral contracts with your clients whether they are DID clients or not?
In this section, we discussed behavioral contracts. I described three steps to writing a contract. These three steps are specificity as to what is required from each personality, determining the consequences for contract violations, and length and termination of contracts.
In the next section, we will discuss promoting internal communication. Three techniques for promoting internal communication that we will discuss are therapist as a go-between, the bulletin board, and internal conversations.