Healing From Narcissistic Abuse:
What You Know Intellectually is Not What You Feel Emotionally
Are you feeling frustrated with the narcissistic abuse healing process because what you know intellectually is not what you feel emotionally?
By now you have likely read and listened to everything you could find on narcissistic abuse. You consider yourself fully educated on all things NPD. Still, you feel frustrated because you can’t seem to free yourself from the pain you feel.
Believing, with all you have learned, that you should be feeling better by now, you have grown impatient with yourself. It makes no sense to you that, try as you might, you cannot seem to meld the intellectual and emotional together and you cannot stop the suffering.
There are ten general steps to healing from narcissistic abuse:
- Recognizing that you have indeed been abused.
- Gaining a complete understanding of the tactics that have been used to confuse, manipulate and control you.
- Learning how to set healthy emotional boundaries with your abuser and in every area of your life.
- Accepting that everything you experienced, no matter the particulars, can be summed up under the umbrella of narcissistic abuse. Let go of the nonsensical details that keep you stuck in a loop of confusion.
- Grieving the loss of the love you thought you had and the future that you had envisioned for yourself.
- Learning how to love and accept every aspect of yourself.
- Becoming fiercely protective of yourself against all toxic influences, no matter the nature of the relationship.
- Deciding how to proceed with the relationship you have with your abuser; contact, limited contact, or no contact at all.
- Reclaiming your personal power
- Rebuilding your new life completely on your own terms
Still, under the insidious spell of behavioral, emotional, and psychological programming, a survivor cannot possibly accomplish the complete healing process on his or her own. That is why the validation, support, and guidance given by a qualified mental health professional are invaluable.
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 since it may not reveal or address the core issue; narcissistic victim syndrome.
It is imperative to pre-qualify any mental health professional whose guidance you wish to seek, prior to beginning treatment. Look for professionals specializing in NPD abuse, not just those with degrees or licenses. Be sure the person is trained to recognize narcissistic abuse or has experience with narcissistic abuse syndrome. If not, you are wasting your time and money, and your problem is likely to get worse.
Personal or professional referrals are best, but you can also search online. Telephone consultations are the best way to assess someone if you aren’t familiar with the person’s expertise. Most mental health professionals do not charge for these screenings.
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
Stop seeing any mental health professional who:
- Encourages the reparation or reunification of your relationship with your abuser
- Makes you feel guilty or responsible for what has happened to you
- Shames or blames you
- Talks about your symptoms but has not gotten to your core issue
- Invalidates your experience
- Judges you
- Gets frustrated with your lack of progress
- Sides with your abuser
Working with the right practitioner on a weekly basis, you should experience some relief within a month or two. If you don’t feel that 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. Just find someone who is better equipped to help you.
Be sure to see the process through to the end. Continue working with your counselor, coach or therapist until you feel strong enough and stable enough to manage on your own.
You have suffered enough. Now it is time to heal.
A big THANK YOU to Randi Fine for this comprehensive article!
Randi Fine is an internationally renowned narcissistic abuse expert and coach, and 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.