Question regarding new therapist who works with narcissists aswell as victims

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Last week i went to see a therapist who works with those affected by narccisists ( victims ) but also advertises as being a therapist for and  works with narcissists too.

During our first session she made the comment " we all have to have some narcissistic traits  "

I asked her how she manages to have empathy for and work with both victims of  and narcissists themselves and mentioned to her that i was not aware that narcissists responded positively to therapy, but that i had, in fact heard that they often use therapy to their own advantage.

Her response was that narcissism is on a spectrum ( which i get ) and that in her view, those at the lower end of the narcissistic spectrum do often respond  to therapy.  At the time of her saying this , the way she put it , it seemed to make sense.

I am wondering now though......whether at the lower or at the upper end of the spectrum , does it really make that much difference.  A narcissist at whichever end projects his / her faults onto others and is , as far as i know, incapable of introspection and self improvement by virtue of their firm belief that the problem never lies within them , but  that it's always always  someone elses fault.

I am wondering if others here might be able to share their view on this. Would you trust a therapist who worked with narcissists  as well as victims ?  Does that seem feasable to you ?



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Some questions I'd have, either the therapist could answer, or if I felt comfortable enough to give it a few sessions, maybe I could see for myself how things unfold.  If the T becomes more skilled by dealing with N victims as well as Narcs, then that is a good thing, right? 

I'd ask the therapist what they think they learn or gain from engaging in a T/client relationship with a Narc.  Do they come away with more insight?  Do they see common patterns?  And do they realize when they're being manipulated?  Because if there's a Narc in the room, then someone's ALWAYS being played at some point.

And to your point about the main trait of Narcs (they never believe that they're the problem, it's everyone else that's the problem), I'd ask how a therapist approaches treatment with someone with this attitude.  Is it more of a "life skills" kind of thing, where the Narc learns how to behave more decently in a superficial way, but otherwise remains unchanged? Or....???
“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.”  Oscar Wilde.

"My actions are my true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand."  Thich Nhat Hanh



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Do you feel comfortable working with a therapist who works with narcissists? Are you concerned that they won't witness the trauma and abuse that you have gone through and will empathise too much with the narcissist in your life? I think any therapist working with trauma victims needs to be very sensitive and allow you space to feel any rage and anger that you feel without jumping to trying to get you to understand the narcissist.

I would see how you feel with this person...make sure you are being validated in terms of your experience if that's what you need. If you feel at any point that they it's not going to work for you then I'd find a different therapist...they could do more damage if you feel they don't fully get what you have gone through.



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My T works with people with BPD as well as people with BPD parents/relatives/SO's. I was concerned about this too at first, but I feel that she really understands and recognizes the behaviors, and I don't get the sense that she's sympathetic to the BPD behaviors at all. I think she IS a little sympathetic to the fact that people with PD may lack the ability to change and that many don't want help. But she hasn't used that to justify M's behavior toward me. She's used that more to hammer home the point that "Your M CANNOT change." Which I've found helpful.

I asked her why she sees BPD clients if they cannot change and probably don't want the sort of help they truly need. She says that she teaches them some coping skills to help them feel less distress. So it's not about helping them improve themselves, it's about helping them feel less pain and be more able to function, I guess? She did stress that there have been clients she couldn't help because they just wanted to vent - making her their emotional toilet, I guess.

Thinking about this more, I have to wonder how a T feels at essentially being used as supply. I should ask her about that.

I agree with the others - see whether you feel validated by this T, and don't be afraid to question them if they say something that seems off or like they are siding with the N. It is totally ok to say to a T, "I don't think that is helpful because XYZ" or "When you said X it made me feel worse because Y." I've learned a lot about whether a T is good for me or not by how they respond to my criticisms or boundary-setting with them.



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It might help to read the Pete Walker book as it explains how a lot of people with trauma will react with narcissism until they learn better ways of dealing with their stuff. It's a great book & I won't even try to summarise his points here.
My trauma counsellor worked with people who were narcissists but mostly it was in the context of supporting their families. After I'd spent a lot of time with her & she trusted me, she told me that part of her motivation was that she had a narcissist in the family (her sister) so she knew what it was like for people who are trapped with one and cannot get away from it.
She admitted that the worst narcissists won't get any benefit from therapy but she had seen huge benefits come to the children, siblings & partners of narcissists & that was why she persisted with it.
And for people who have narcissistic traits or defences, they can learn more functional ways of dealing with their anger and it reduces the amount of damage to the family.
I think the other benefit here is that some narcissists can be dangerous.
We had a notorious wife-killer here in my bit of Oz and when it looked like he was going to get away with it, the psychologist's report from the family therapy sessions was introduced as evidence in the trial. She had immediately picked up on his N traits & she had listed them in detail.
A consequence of this is that it was included in the evidence (it was a circumstantial case) and as a result he's in jail on a lifetime sentence, which is a helluva lot better than the alternative, which is to be free to roam the world doing more damage while he raises the three little daughters who were in the house at the time that he murdered their mother.
So yes, I am in the camp of thinking that there is benefit to be had from Ts admitting the most psychopathic and conscienceless individuals into their practices.
They may hoodwink some vulnerable individuals but if it's a T who is wise to their antics, they'll see it. And sometimes seeing it and noting it can make all the difference.



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That's really interesting sandpiper! Thanks for sharing the information.



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I am Surprised by the notion of narcissists seeking therapy of any kind.


Spring Butterfly

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Here's a link that relates to the topic of PD treatment
Every interaction w/ PD persons results in damage-plan accordingly, make time to heal
Individuation is one key to emotional freedom
It's foolish to expect of others what they have no capacity to give
my Empowered Growth,Gentle Boundaries,Emotional Healing blog



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There's a running joke in therapy circles: you don't treat cluster B personality disorders (narcissists, borderlines, histrionics, etc.). They "treat" you, and you need therapy afterwards.  :bigwink:

True Narcs don't feel they need therapy, they're perfect just as they are and think you're the problem.  :roll: That goes for Borderlines, too, but they want you to fill the gaping bottomless wound in their soul and "heal" them (preferably with the sacrifice of your life). My T has a wicked sense of humor, I kind of think you have to in order to be effective.
"Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not a hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A Dark Knight."
-- James Gordon, The Dark Knight



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One of the main NPDs in my life was a practicing therapist for decades. I have a feeling the person was probably a good therapist for quite a few of the clients. I highly recommend George Simon's books - he has counseled both victims and the aggressors.

« Last Edit: June 05, 2017, 08:06:07 PM by SaltwareS »