Today, we were joined by Christopher DeFranco, a Clinical Mental Health Counselor. Christopher started out his career by establishing his place in the community and practicing school-based and in-home therapy with low-income individuals. From there, he worked with Inpatient Hospitals for high acuity individuals that struggle with suicidality, personality disorders, psychosis, and chemical dependency. Currently, he works out of private practice with a particular focus on specialized populations that include: developmental and communication disorders, veterans and those who suffer from complex trauma and PTSD, Sexual dysfunctions and paraphilias, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
In Part-One, we cover the identifying traits associated with someone who might be struggling with personality disorders, such as Anti-Social PD (sociopathy) and Borderline PD (narcissism). Like for instance, these individuals might experience patterns of unstable relationships with their families, friends, and loved ones; often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation).
Now, it’s important to remember that personality disorders fall on a spectrum. Even if there is someone who is acting these characteristics out, it’s detrimental to their growth to self-diagnose them with, for example, “sociopathy”; And just because they exhibit this type of behavior, does not mean that they are broken. Phrases, such as, “You’re a [sociopath/psychopath]”, are at best an uneducated, uninformed guess; At worst, it can cause this person to feel attacked and then become defensive. These words could be classified as buzzwords, and are typically used to justify our own decision-making process.
Now, this is a good time to elaborate on Reality-Based Therapy—one of Christopher’s most effective, yet controversial, treatment modalities. You would think that Reality-Based Therapy is practiced amongst most therapists, because if they’re not analyzing the reality of your situation, what are they analyzing? Well, Christopher confronts these questions with the professional discernment of when and how to incorporate this into a session. Essentially, he asks his clients to own their thoughts, decisions, and emotions, empowering them to make the changes necessary to get to a more comfortable place in order for them to thrive more fully.
Please see below for resources available to individuals struggling with anything above:
National Institute of Mental Health: www.nimh.nih.gov
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): www.nami.org
HelpWhenYouNeedIt.Org over 350,000 listings for social services, mental health, substance use, legal and financial assistance.
Psychology Today offers a national directory of therapists, psychiatrists, therapy groups and treatment facility options
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides referrals to support groups and mental health professionals, resources on loss, and suicide prevention information (+1 888-333-2377)
The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides 24/7 crisis intervention, safety planning and information on domestic violence (+1 800-799-7233)
The Suicide Prevention Lifeline connects callers to trained crisis counselors (+1 800-273-8255)