Will Therapy with a Narcissist Help? Why it’s a Bad Idea

By Kim Saeed | Contemplating No Contact

Dec 12
will therapy with a narcissist help

Will therapy with a narcissist help?

After all, you’ve apparently committed some serious grievances against them. According to him or her, it’s a wonder you’re not on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. With their persuasion, you think back to the times you had nuclear meltdowns as you pick up the phone and dial your insurance company to find marriage counselors in your area.

You have been feeling high-strung and confused lately.  Maybe seeing a therapist will help you slip past your toxic partner’s defenses, leading to an improved relationship.

Before you start going down the list of marriage and relationship counselors, it’s important to consider that going to therapy with a Narcissist will accomplish three things: 1) waste time and money, 2) keep you in a relationship that is doomed to fail anyway and 3) likely result in your feeling like more of the “crazy lunatic” your partner keeps claiming you are.

The hard truth is that in my experience working with clients who have been pathologically abused–as well as the hours of research I’ve done–I’ve not come across one success story as it relates to couple’s therapy with a narcissist.

Not one.  (It sure did nothing to help me!)

Sure, your toxic partner might agree to go to counseling with you, but it’s not to make any improvements or lasting change. Narcissists don’t go to therapy because they finally realize they’re selfish and have been mistreating you.  They do it to keep you feeling hopeful (in order to keep you trapped longer) by enhancing their facade of trying to “make it work”.

Narcissists don’t go to therapy with goals in mind (such as improving their relationship with you).  They go to therapy with agendas in mind.

There are many reasons for the lack of counseling/therapy success with a narcissist, including:

  • Narcissists are masters at creating great impressions. Because of this, some naïve therapists side with the narcissist regarding the extreme and despicable claims made against the true victim – the one being emotionally and/or physically abused!
  • Narcissists are creatures of economy.  By the time they agree to go to counseling, they’ve committed numerous relationship crimes, and the easiest way to get you to forgive them is to feign remorse and agree to go to therapy.
  • Because there’s such a lack of applicable experience dealing with narcissists, most therapists have been trained to address subjective perceptions. Due to this, narcissists get away with playing the victim, which puts them in a one-up position in regards to the abuse dynamic that will inevitably get worse at home.
  • On the topic of subjective perceptions, the victim often goes along with what the therapist says, thus working double-time to improve the relationship…all in vain. (This is also due to the victim being co-dependent, which causes him or her to put in more than their fair share, anyway). The narcissist will not appreciate any efforts extended by their victim, and in fact may mock them, causing further emotional damage.
  • It’s not unusual for the narcissist to insist on seeing the therapist first. This gives him or her the opportunity to lay down false accusations and give the therapist a wrong impression of what’s actually going on in the relationship.
  • Many narcissists come into their relationships already “seeing a therapist”. This is a strategic move in order for them to pave the way for forgiveness when they commit relationship crimes, allowing them the perfect opportunity to justify their actions with the comments, “I’m seeing someone for that. Are you going to give up on me? How can you just leave me when I’m down?”…and all variations of guilting to keep their target enmeshed.
  • The victim, feeling safe and encouraged by the therapist, usually expresses their pain, disappointments, and may possibly confess to serious emotional or physical assault. This often makes things much worse for them at home, and strengthens the trauma bond, thus making it harder to leave.
  • Typically, the narcissist goes into the therapist’s office and morphs into a fictional, decent character. Once back at home, they return to their normal, abusive selves.

Please understand that this article is not meant to discourage anyone from seeking individual therapy. This post was written to highlight some of the reasons why therapy with the narcissist is a recipe for disaster.  

There are some very competent therapists who can detect a cluster-B disordered person within minutes of meeting one. Those who are skilled in this area will usually inform the abuse victim of their observations regarding the emotional abuse and exploitation dealt out by the narcissist, usually due to the narcissist’s sense of entitlement and tendency to be self-focused.  They don’t tend to admit to mistakes or be very open to considering another person’s perspective.  

Copyright © 2014 Kim Saeed. All Rights Reserved

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