Talk Therapy Ineffective with Narcissistic Abuse

image of room with two chairs represents talk therapy ineffective with narcissistic abuse.

Talk Therapy Ineffective with Narcissistic Abuse

Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine

Written by Randi Fine

Talk therapy is ineffective with narcissistic abuse treatment because it works on the intellectual brain; on rational thought. While survivors may experience rational understanding of what they have endured, what they know intellectually is not what they feel emotionally.

Narcissistic abuse alters the brain on an unconscious level. Targets of this abuse, unaware that their perception is gradually being altered, believe that they are in control of their thoughts. Survivors of narcissistic abuse, believing the same, find it frustrating that while they consciously know what they’ve endured they can not reason their way out of their suffering. 

As a professional coach dedicated to specialized narcissistic abuse recovery I hear the same frustration expressed over and over by clients who in desperation seek me out. Most everyone has first engaged the help of a licensed mental health professional, in some cases for several years, trusting that the person knew how to help them. Achieving no benefit and often feeling worse, many are angry about the incompetent treatment they received and hopeless that they will ever recover.

Working with clients both nationally and internationally, they all seem to have the same complaints.

  • They were encouraged to work things out with their abuser
  • The true problem was glossed over
  • They were encouraged to take responsibility for things they had no responsibility for
  • They were shamed and blamed for not seeing their part in problems they did not cause
  • When they didn’t make progress in the time the therapist thought they should they were told it was time to let go of the past and move on
  • They felt as if their therapist thought they were imagining or exaggerating their experiences
  • The therapist focused on finding and practicing strategies to decrease the patient’s symptoms without addressing the problem that caused them. Unable to accomplish the goal, the patient felt worse about themselves, not better.
  • Their suffering never stopped, and in many cases was intensified
  • They had no effective way to deal with their abuse

Cognitive behavioral talk therapy is ineffective with narcissistic abuse treatment in that it functions under the assumption that once people become conscious of their own thoughts and behaviors they can make positive changes to them. That assumption feels like punishment to narcissistic abuse victims who are already riddled with guilt. After being conditioned to shoulder the blame for everything that has happened to them, they are their own worst enemies.

The suffering that narcissistic abuse causes is completely unrelated to a survivor’s thoughts and behaviors. They are suffering because they have been victimized. Narcissistic abuse is no less a victimization situation than any other crime.

Healing cannot begin until abuse survivors can fully grasp that a predator targeted and victimized them. They must be convinced through compassionate, repeated reinforcement that they hold no responsibility whatsoever for what happened to them and that the abuse had nothing to do with who they are. Until they realize that they didn’t cause it, they couldn’t see what was happening to them, they have no responsibility for it, and they could not have possibly known how to stop it, they will not be receptive to treatment.

And talk therapy is ineffective with narcissistic abuse treatment because survivors do not know if what they experienced was real or imagined. They cannot be released from the frustrating emotional cycle they are trapped in without repeated validation that what they experienced truly happened. Once they receive validation that they are not the crazy ones and understand that they bear no responsibility for what happened to them, they experience a huge relief. Repressed memories start rising to the surface. The fog begins to lift and clarity begins to get restored.

Survivors need patience, compassion, support and understanding. They need to be assured that they did nothing wrong; that the guilt they feel was programmed into them to keep them emotionally held hostage. They need someone to help them distinguish truth from lies, love from abuse, and loyalty from self-preservation.

Unless and until narcissistic abuse syndrome becomes widely accepted as a diagnosis, licensed mental health professionals at large will not be trained to recognize and treat it. Unable to find proper treatment, many survivors will be left to falsely accept that they must endure their suffering.

As a survivor of narcissistic abuse I have lived the experience, suffered its lifetime repercussions, and endured the painful healing process. I have lived through and studied every aspect of narcissistic abuse, and helped hundreds of people around the world heal from it.

No one knows better than I do what a survivor goes through. And no one knows better than I do how to help a narcissistic abuse survivor fully recover from it.

When you are ready, I am available to help you.

Randi Fine is the author of the groundbreaking book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing, the most comprehensive, most well researched, and most up-to-date book on this subject. In addition to helping survivors recognize their abuse and heal from it, this book teaches mental health professionals how to recognize and properly treat the associated abuse syndrome. She is also the author of Cliffedge Road: A Memoir, the first and only book to characterize the life-long progression of complications caused by narcissistic child abuse.

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