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  • Writer's pictureDominic Schmuck, Ph.D.

Therapy for Narcissistic Abuse Victims & Survivors


Sprouting seed

The lingering effects of experiencing abuse from a narcicisst are multifaceted and can affect your personal relationships, views of yourself, and daily functioning. You might not only have difficulties trusting others and their intentions, you might also have difficulties trusting yourself because you've repeatedly been demeaned and made to believe that you are worthless.


Even though overcoming the challenges stemming from your abuse can at times appear insurmountable, there is hope! In therapy for narcissistic abuse survivors—whether you suffered abuse from a parent, sibling, partner, or even a close friend—we can work together to break through your trauma response and help you heal. If you want to know what to expect from therapy and how it could help you, keep reading.



What to Expect from Therapy


When you begin therapy for narcissistic abuse, it's important to know what to expect so you can feel more at ease as you start your healing journey. Here’s a detailed overview of what you can anticipate:


  1. A Safe & Non-Judgmental Space: Broadly speaking, y ou can anticipate a non-judgmental environment where you can express your feelings and experiences openly without any repercussions. You will be met with understanding, empathy, and support. This supportive environment is essential for rebuilding trust and fostering healing. Your therapist will listen, validate your experiences, and help you feel in control.

  2. Intake Appointment - Your First Meeting with Your Therapist: During your first session, you and your therapist will go over your mental health history, current symptoms, and experiences with narcissistic abuse. This session might be difficult for some, but remember that this is only your first meeting with your therapist and you don’t have to provide in-depth details or share anything you’re not ready to discuss. This appointment is different from future sessions as the therapist will want to get a good idea of what you are going through to best help you. You will also address your goals for therapy to ensure you and your therapist are on the same page.

  3. Ongoing Therapy Appointments: Depending on your personal preferences and the severity of your symptoms, therapy might only be necessary for a few appointments (e.g., 4-6 meetings) or might take longer (e.g., up to 18 meetings). Some clients seek long-term support (1 year+). Most clients generally attend therapy 5-15 times until they feel ready to move forward without additional therapeutic help. Therapy sessions will be tailored to your needs. Some clients need help processing their trauma to work PTSD symptoms, others benefit most from learning coping skills, some need to learn how to communicate with others and set boundaries, while others need to gain a better understanding of what happened to increase their insight.

  4. Improving Yourself Between Therapy Sessions: Healing from narcissistic abuse is a journey that extends beyond the therapy room. Meeting once a week for 50 minutes will not heal you on its own. Practicing what you learn in therapy, applying concepts to your everyday life, and focusing on improving your well-being between sessions will make the most difference. Your therapist will review your progress during sessions, but it is up to you to apply what you are learning.

  5. Treatment Termination - Your Last Meeting with Your Therapist: Once you are ready to discontinue therapy, you and your therapist will meet one more time to discuss your progress, review what you have learned, and address what has been most helpful for you. This review session can help ensure that your brain recognizes and remembers the progress you have made long-term, allowing you to continue thriving in life.


Therapy Meeting

Specific Ways Therapy can Help


Therapy can help in many different ways and has to be individualized to your personal needs and experiences. For example, while one individual might experience symptoms that are typically associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), another individual might be largely free from such symptoms while still experiencing major complications because of abuse. That being said, here is a list of the five most common themes therapy can help you with:


  1. Gain Confidence and Self-Esteem: After going through abuse from a narcissistic individual, it is likely that you question yourself and are unsure about your capabilities. Therapy can help you see yourself in a more objective and realistic light and recognizing all you are capable of! Breaking through the mental walls your abuser created that hinder you from seeing yourself as who you truly are is difficult and takes time, but with the help of a professional you can discover your true self.

  2. Create Healthy Boundaries: While suffering abuse, it is likely that your boundaries have repeatedly been violated. Through therapy, you can learn to set and maintain healthy boundaries. This will help you develop healthy relationships that are based on mutual respect and trust.

  3. Develop Healthier Thinking Patterns: Often, narcissistic abuse survivors experience multiple "cognitive distortions" as a result of their abuse. Cognitive distortions are negative thinking patterns that aren't rooted in reality or fact. Examples include 'catastrophizing' or 'disqualifying the positives.' In therapy, you can start recognizing and addressing cognitive distortions, allowing you to develop healthier thought patterns that support your personal growth and mental well-being.

  4. Heal Your Emotions: Narcissistic abuse often leaves you with significant self-doubt, shame, guilt, anxiety, depression, and other emotional challenges. Therapy helps you recognize how your abuser caused these feelings and guides you through the healing process. While it takes time to heal from the emotional toll, therapy can significantly speed up your recovery, allowing you to more fully enjoy life again.

  5. Build Coping Skills: In therapy, you will learn various skills to apply when you feel triggered, out of control, or are struggling in other ways. These skills are tailored to your personal preferences and unique needs. While not every technique will work immediately, trying multiple techniques helps you create a personalized toolbox of coping skills. These tools can support you throughout your life, even beyond your time in therapy, empowering you to manage challenges effectively.


Looking for a Narcissistic Abuse Therapy Specialist?


Finding an experienced therapist who can help you heal from narcissistic abuse can be extremely difficult. If you feel overwhelmed and need support, reaching out for help now might be the best decision you can make. I am a Licensed Psychologist with a Ph.D. in Psychology, specializing in helping individuals navigate narcissistic abuse and healing from relationship trauma. I have guided numerous individuals on their recovery journey.



You can contact me by calling/texting (385) 200-0204 or emailing dominic@truupsychology.com to get started. You can also schedule a free 15-minute consult here. If no timeslot appears through the link, then I likely have a waitlist. Call/text/email instead.


I can work with clients in over 40 PSYPACT participating states.



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