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Healing From Narcissistic Abuse: The Role of Therapy
Mental Health

Healing From Narcissistic Abuse: The Role of Therapy

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on January 25, 2023
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9 min

Trauma therapy is one of the best treatments for anyone who has been in narcissistic relationships. Learning about this type of counseling may encourage you to seek further support. We explain the role of therapy when healing from abusive experiences.

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Do you want to find the best therapy for narcissistic abuse recovery?

Speaking to a trained professional about your trauma could be the way to heal. Sometimes, it’s easy to bottle up your emotions when going through something alone. This is why therapy or support groups could stop you from blaming yourself or dealing with more emotional abuse. 

Physical and online therapy could help you identify narcissistic traits in someone. Complex trauma often encourages you to shut out any logical thoughts. So, if you’re curious about how therapy works to improve your mental health, have a look through our guide. 

In this article, you’ll discover the role of therapy for emotionally abusive relationships. 

What Is Narcissistic Abuse?

Narcissistic abuse is a form of emotional manipulation committed by someone who has sociopathic tendencies. They use words and language to put another person down. This is especially common in romantic relationships due to intense control and possession. 

A person who relies on put-downs, accusations, criticism, or threats is usually classed as a narcissist. They might try to gaslight you to make themselves feel better about certain situations. People who go through this emotional abuse may feel pressured to stay in the abuser’s life.

Those with narcissistic personality traits don’t make an effort to change their behavior. Instead, most of them will turn to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse toward others. You might self-blame when your partner acts out domestic violence or gives you the silent treatment. 

However, it’s important to remember that people with narcissistic personality disorder tend to use emotional blackmail. They want to make you feel weak in the relationship. Nothing about their behavior is your fault, so always reach out when suffering from narcissistic abuse. 

What Should I Do if I Am Still in a Relationship With a Narcissist? 

You should constantly remind yourself that you can do much better. Being emotionally abused means the other person doesn’t truly love or appreciate your presence. Consider seeking professional help to determine the best way of breaking up with a narcissist. 

Of course, when you’ve grown to love someone, it can be difficult to end the relationship. Your partner might purposely make you feel unloveable to stop you from leaving. A narcissistic personality disorder is only something that will ruin your mental health in the long term. 

One study found that living with someone who commits narcissistic abuse can ruin feelings of self-importance. This is just another reason to put your own needs first. You can use this change to move on to more comforting, healthier relationships that don’t lower your self-esteem. 

Also, remember that physical abuse is a way of trapping you. Someone who is supposed to love and care for you wouldn’t do anything so damaging. Let a close friend or family member know about their narcissistic personality disorder and how it’s turning into narcissistic abuse. 

The best way to end a relationship with a narcissist is to tell them the truth while having supportive people around. They can’t make attempts to commit verbal or physical abuse. Leaving something so harmful can raise your self-esteem and introduce more fulfilling relationships. 

Is Therapy for Narcissistic Abuse Effective? 

Yes, therapy can help trauma survivors express their feelings about the abuse. You should use this as a chance to improve your mental health while figuring out how to heal. A psychologist will be there to listen and find the best solution for escaping the abuse. 

Dealing with someone who has a narcissistic personality disorder can be draining. There will be times you have low self-esteem and don’t want to do anything. Other times, you might listen to verbal abuse that leaves you in a constant state of despair, sadness, depression, and anxiety. 

Studies have shown that narcissists usually avoid therapy or discussions about personality disorders. Even if they don’t want to seek treatment, you should still get the support you need. A professional can help you live an easier life without suffering from verbal abuse. 

Be aware that a narcissist won’t stop being a narcissist without the right motivation. Therapy is a way of releasing your thoughts and questions about escaping their wrongful behavior. The same goes for people dealing with a narcissistic parent, as this can feel especially damaging. 

Of course, therapy isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth trying. The National Library of Medicine strongly believes that trauma is insidious and destructive. Anyone with narcissistic personality disorder wants you to have low self-esteem and experience emotional self-harm. 

How Does Therapy for Narcissistic Abuse Work? 

There are narcissistic abuse recovery programs that can offer support while you’re healing from abusive relationships. You can sit down with a licensed therapist to discuss boundaries, your recovery journey, coping skills, self-protection, and emotional support.

Booking an appointment with your therapist is the first step. They will most likely ask questions about your trauma and any physical or verbal abuse. Naturally, you may feel more reserved when talking about narcissistic parents or partners, which is normal for the starter session. 

These professionals want you to feel completely comfortable. You could set boundaries in terms of discussions and privacy matters. Online or face-to-face therapy is a way of expressing concerns about a narcissistic partner who shows their true self through verbal abuse. 

Some therapists might use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – a form of psychological treatment that opens your mind to self-compassion and self-love. A study discovered that CBT reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety while you’re in the healing process. 

Narrative exposure therapy (NET) is another form of treatment that supports those with complex trauma. Someone will ask you questions about emotions and sensory details associated with abuse. You can then narrate the whole experience without losing connection to the present. 

10 Tips on How to Heal From Narcissistic Abuse 

Learning how to heal from emotional abuse can help you feel whole again. You don’t need to spend your time thinking about the abusive relationship constantly. Instead, there are ways to recover from the trauma, so it’s important to read through these while going to therapy.

Here are 10 tips on how to heal from a narcissistic relationship:

#1 Practice self-compassion

Sometimes, it might feel easy to blame yourself. This is a mindset that can be incredibly damaging to your physical and mental health. Consider practicing mindfulness to comfort your body and encourage positive thoughts that lift your confidence rather than bring it down. 

#2 Be patient 

Emotional healing isn’t something that will just happen overnight.

People go through trauma in many different ways. Your brain needs to process what happened, which could take weeks, months, and even years. An abusive relationship is one thing that could scar your mental well-being and make you lose trust in everyone else in your life.

To properly heal from abuse, you should try to remain patient. Take time out when you need it, and consider going to a support group throughout the week. It might help to learn about other narcissistic experiences and how those people are currently coping with the trauma.

#3 Gain support from loved ones 

Gaining comfort from loved ones could give you that little push. Close friends and family will always be there to offer support when you need it most. The healing process is slower when you’re alone, so don’t forget to reach out in times of emotional distress or discomfort. 

#4 Set clear boundaries 

You should always set boundaries when it comes to discussing your health.

Some people might accidentally raise questions that are triggering. Enmeshment trauma occurs when you don’t have those boundaries. Aim to create emotional power and control within yourself to heal from the trauma privately while still connecting with others in your life.

#5 Express your feelings 

Bottling your feelings up could do more harm than good. You need to express how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking during the healing process.  A therapist will always insist on the importance of communicating effectively when you are struggling to overcome abuse. 

Consider talking to a family member about your experience with verbal and emotional abuse. They could give you support or motivational advice. Remember that there are people around you who want to listen, so take the time to express your feelings, thoughts, and emotions.

Also, if you have a hard time expressing your feelings and emotions, we would recommend trying mental health apps.

#6 Take time off social media 

Seeing happy relationships on social media could set you back. This is why it’s important to avoid social media platforms while you’re healing from narcissistic abuse. Put down your phone for a certain number of hours each day to clear your mind and focus on being positive.

One study found that social media actually damages your mental health. You can’t escape the false advertisements and posts that claim to care about people. To progress your healing, read a book instead, or take morning walks to clear your mind when things get overwhelming. 

#7 Create healthy habits 

Creating healthy habits could allow you to set firm boundaries in your life. 

You could go for long-distance runs in the morning or take extra time to practice meditation techniques. These small steps may clear your mind and prevent negative thoughts from worsening. It might be worth writing down what you wish to complete in a daily journal. 

Some people also think about the future when building habits. Some common goals might be to ask for more support, take care of your body, manage stress better, and meet with close friends. You can strive to achieve these goals when learning to overcome narcissistic abuse. 

#8 Avoid retaliation

People might feel angry after dealing with narcissistic abuse. This could lead them to fight back or make situations worse. Of course, it’s normal to feel that anger during the healing process, but it’s important to avoid retaliation when your mind and body are still recovering from abuse. 

Here are some ways to avoid retaliation: 

  • Step away from the situation 
  • Create boundaries 
  • Learn to control your emotions
  • Distance yourself 
  • Acknowledge why you left in the first place 

#9 Build a consistent schedule 

Not having a schedule could stop you from getting up in the morning. You need a routine to build motivation and define healthy habits. Being in a relationship with a narcissist could force you into a corner and make you feel like you can’t complete anything you want to do. 

Grab a calendar or journal to document your daily routine. This can act as your burst of encouragement for the day. Studies even show that journaling is a great way of expressing your moods or writing anything down that is important to your long-term health. 

#10 Seek professional help 

There’s nothing wrong with seeking professional help when things feel overwhelming. Some people need that extra support after experiencing abusive behavior. You can consult with your doctor about therapy options and how they might encourage you to communicate effectively. 

When to Seek Professional Advice

You should seek professional advice when things become dangerous. Someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) might start the abusing habit. For anyone who feels unsafe, get immediate help to avoid getting injured by a narcissistic person. 

There is nothing wrong with getting help right away. People with narcissistic tendencies may snap at any time and make you feel isolated. It might feel more challenging when it’s to do with family, but a narcissistic father or mother should not be allowed to threaten your health. 

Here are some signs you should get help:

  • The person becomes aggressive 
  • You feel pressured to stay home
  • They have unexplained behavior changes
  • Other people are worried about your health 
  • They invade your physical privacy 
  • You can’t do anything on your own

A Word From a Psychologist

People who experience narcissistic abuse are bound to have trust issues that stick with them for a long time. They might not feel confident talking with people they know about trauma. Certain therapists are there to listen and not judge your feelings, which is a great form of therapy.

A narcissist will make you have paranoid thoughts and feelings of being a loser. This isn’t something you should deal with when living your life in peace. You might feel worried about abandoning them, but they will drag you down and ruin the relationship you have with yourself.

Just remember that there are always people who can help. Licensed therapists have been trained to support those with trauma. Consider talking to friends and family about potential therapy sessions, as they could guide you through this new chapter of your healing journey.

Conclusion

So, can therapy help you heal from narcissistic abuse? 

Going to in-person or online therapy could help you overcome a toxic relationship. Dealing with narcissistic abuse is bound to take a toll on your body and mind. This is why it’s important to seek further help from a professional, even when you feel like talking isn’t going to help much.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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