Written by Randi G. Fine
Excerpt from my book, Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing and Recovery
You have suffered enough. You deserve to be free of the painful burdens that have been unfairly placed upon you.
Life is not easy for anyone. There is a great deal of suffering in life, but life is not supposed to be about suffering. Life is about facing challenges, triumphing over them, and growing from them.
Overcoming narcissistic abuse is one such challenge; a complicated one that takes tremendous inner strength. You have only been challenged this way because you have the strength to rise above it.
Throughout this book I have given you many tools to help you succeed. But there is one invaluable thing I cannot offer you through the written word. That is the one on one support of a competent mental health professional. I cannot stress strongly enough how essential that is to your healing process.
Your brain has been conditioned to accept abuse. You can greatly increase your awareness of what happened to you, but you will never be able to apply logic to it. You may make progress in healing on your own, but you will not fully overcome what happened to you. And failing to thoroughly understand what you endured puts you at a greater risk of returning to your abuser, or becoming vulnerable to new predators with similar or worse agendas.
In Chapter Twenty I explained the importance of pre-qualifying the professional whose guidance you wish to seek, prior to seeing him or her. Look for professionals with NPD abuse experience, not just education or degrees. Be sure the person is trained to recognize narcissistic abuse or has experience with narcissistic abuse syndrome. If they do not you are wasting your time and your problem could get worse.
Avoid therapists who use a “humanistic” or “existential” approach. These clinicians hold both perpetrators and victims in equally positive regard.
Humanistic psychologists believe that people are basically good—that all human beings share characteristics such as love, caring and self-worth, and have an inherent need to make themselves and the world better. This philosophy in no way addresses the distorted thinking of the personality disordered therefore is the wrong approach to use with individuals abused by narcissists.
The most popular approach used by mental health clinicians today is cognitive-behavioral therapy. There are aspects of cognitive-behavioral therapy that are very beneficial to the process of narcissistic abuse recovery, but it should not be the first or only approach used. It may not reveal or address your core issues.
Cognitive behavioral therapy may be beneficial in helping you shift the disrupted thinking patterns upsetting your life from negative to positive. I have given you some cognitive-behavioral therapy type exercises in Part Five of this book for that reason. However, I have strategically placed them near the end of the book; to be used after you have learned all there is to know about the nature of your abuse and abuser.
I believe that to heal from narcissistic abuse you must first understand the tactics used to confuse and control you; therefore insight-oriented (psychodynamic) therapy should be the initial approach. The focus of insight-oriented therapy, in a nutshell, is to guide you towards the awareness and understanding of how your past dysfunctional relationships relate to the unresolved conflicts you are presently having. In my opinion, without that fundamental understanding you may be able to temporarily alleviate some symptoms, but you cannot possibly recover from this type of emotional trauma.
Telephone consultations are the best way to pre-qualify someone if you aren’t familiar with the person’s expertise. Most mental health professionals do not charge for these screenings.
Personal or professional referrals are best, but you can also search online.
Mental health professionals include:
- Psychiatrists (the only ones who can prescribe medication)
- Licensed Social Workers
- Mental Health Counselors
- Life Coaches
A good mental health professional can help:
- Sort out your confusing thoughts and feelings
- Reinforce the truth
- Separate reality from fantasy, truth from lies
- Affirm that you are not the problem
- Validate your experiences and feelings
- Keep you focused in the direction of healing
- Prevent you from falling into manipulative traps
- Build your self-esteem
- Develop and reinforce your healthy boundary system
- Make decisions about how to proceed with your relationship
- Monitor your progress
- Evaluate your decisions
- Make you feel better and empower you
- Suggest ways to stay safe in your relationship or when leaving it
- Be there when you need someone to listen and understand
Working with the right therapist on a weekly basis, you should experience some relief within a month or two. If you don’t feel like the person you are seeing is the right fit for you or you are not progressing, stop seeing him or her. But please don’t give up on the process—find someone who is better equipped to help you.
Do not set a time limit for your treatment. Everyone responds differently. Continue working with your counselor or therapist until you feel strong enough and stable enough to manage on your own.