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#1 April 27, 2009 - 1:25pm
Anonymous (not verified)
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This may sound kind of lame, but I am wondering what I should be getting out of therapy? I've never been until recently, so had no idea what to expect.

It seems okay, but it's mostly me rambling and the therapist commenting, and/or validating. She's a degreed psychologist, and deals with wide range of issues. She's as sweet as can be, and in turn, I feel I'm probably being overly polite...which is typical...ha! I just feel like something's missing.

I'm lucky I have insurance, but providers are limited. I guess I need to shop around and hope to find someone listed who has more experience with narcissism. If not, I may have to spend a bit more for what's been recommended on this site. Unfortunately, without Mr. Wonderful around, expenses are a factor.

In the meantime, any ideas of what the a therapy session should be like in our cases?

April 28, 2009 - 10:19pm
Lisa E. Scott
Lisa E. Scott's picture


Good question. You know, I don't always find psychotherapy or typical talk therapy to be that helpful. This is because at times it causes me to obsess more. Sitting with a psychologist picking apart and analyzing every little thing is not that helpful to me. I don't need encouragement obsessing over things. I do that enough on my own. I found Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to work better. Cognitive therapy teaches us that others do not upset us, we upset and disturb ourselves as a result of negative views we take of things. Much disturbance comes from the belief that we should be able to control others in an attempt to control ourselves. Unfortunately, what we fail to realize is that the only person we can control is ourselves. As I've mentioned before, Eckart Tolle explains that we all have a voice in our head that reminds us of troubles from our past and encourages us to worry about our future. Some individuals listen to this voice more than others. Certain events or experiences can cause this voice in our head to run incessantly. The narcissists in our lives did a number on us, there is no doubt. They are master manipulators and know how to brainwash. As Barbara has said before, the chemical balance in our brain is completely out of whack after enduring the abuse of a narcissist. This is the bad news. The good news is that we can retrain our brain. By focusing on the past or future and denying the reality of your present, you remain stuck in what Tolle calls the "pain body." Identification with your mind causes thought to be compulsive. This mental noise prevents you from finding the realm of inner stillness inside you that is necessary to feel at peace or serene. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a "doing" therapy whereby the therapist takes you through different mental exercises in an effort to help retrain your brain. We easily get stuck in negative patterns of thinking. However, we are fortunate in that we can retrain our brain through behavioral therapy. This type of therapy requires more work on your part. The exercises can be difficult and at times anxiety provoking. However, with the assistance of a trained Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, it is extremely effective and worth every bit of hard work. I'm sure you have heard the expression, "What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger." Well, this has certainly been the case for me. I finally surrendered. What did I surrender? My ego. I stopped lying to myself that everything was okay. I dropped all inner resistance and started being honest with myself. I have learned and strongly believe that it is not what happens to you that matters in life, but how you respond to it that determines your overall happiness and succes. With the help of a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, you will realize you can choose how you want to respond to your narcissist. It is up to us how we allow the narcissist to make us feel. I believe Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps us get to this point much faster than traditional talk therapy. Please don't get me wrong, psychotherapy has its purpose, place and benefits, but I think many of us could benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
April 30, 2009 - 4:19pm (Reply to #14)
fairy wings
fairy wings's picture


Lisa I just want you to know I feel this is an excellent posting. It reminds me how important it is to take responsibility for your own part in your own life. It is not about blaming yourself, it is about knowing you don't want to be stuck in what you call the 'pain body', knowing you don't want to be a victim and that you want to move to survivor and engage with life again. I have been on the receiving end of CBT and although I only had six sessions I found it very helpful as I got homework to do things between sessions. I also had a similar number of sessions with a Brief Solutions Focussed therapist and that worked equally well for me. I use a range of methods in my own work, however have a personal dislike of psychotherapy and traditional talk therapies because I feel they can keep you stuck and actually magnify the problem or issue. I see it a bit like a wound. If you keep picking it, it never heals, however if you carefully look in and gently take out the piece of grit or splinter, or nail or whatver is stuck inside, it can heal, almost as good as new. There will always be a scar, however it fades with time.
May 1, 2009 - 8:17pm (Reply to #16)
Lisa E. Scott
Lisa E. Scott's picture

Fairy Wings

I love your analogy: "I see it a bit like a wound. If you keep picking it, it never heals, however if you carefully look in and gently take out the piece of grit or splinter, or nail or whatver is stuck inside, it can heal, almost as good as new. There will always be a scar, however it fades with time." Love this. So true.
April 30, 2009 - 7:53pm (Reply to #15)
Barbara (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

I have to agree also

CBT is what my late therapist used with me for 15 years - to deal with all sorts of trauma including the Narcs and the last Psychopath. It worked beautifully. It took time but her adage was: "Some things are always with you - you never 'get over' them but you ADAPT - and move on." Adapt is an attainable goal. And now I am trying to pay it forward.
April 29, 2009 - 9:41am (Reply to #13)
quietude (not verified)
Anonymous's picture


Appreciate your thoughts, and to all those giving input on this! My goals right now are to keep my anxiety under control, and to increase my motivation to move forward. I have been feeling a bit 'stuck'. I'm only 2 months out (ha, sounds like prison, hmmm), so I know it'll take time, but there are some practical decisions I need to start making SOON as a result of big time "change of plans"! I've heard of CBT - maybe that is what I need, someone to really break things down in that manner. I may mention it to my therapist and see what she thinks.
April 29, 2009 - 8:19am (Reply to #11)
better off
better off's picture

12 Step programs like Al

12 Step programs like Al Anon are much the same. It's brainwashing yourself! positive thinking patterns and as you said, controlling the only thing you can, which is yourself. I was asked to be the speaker at a meeting for the first time yesterday. I was a little bit nervous, but it went really well.
April 29, 2009 - 7:21pm (Reply to #12)
Lisa E. Scott
Lisa E. Scott's picture


Congrats on being asked to be the speaker at your AlAnon meeting. That's great. Good for you!
April 28, 2009 - 11:11pm (Reply to #10)
malloryforest's picture

So True

I agree with you so much on this point. I find it is important to go through all stages of grief and healing, but it is easy to get trapped in one of the many stages. I have a relative who had gone through a similar experience as my own. It has been ten years for her, and she is still in the same space I am in. I don't want to be the victim the rest of my life. I want to move on and lead a beautiful, full productive life for both my self and my children. One thing I know about therapy, is that you want to find a therapist who promotes your mental health. One who challenges you to think differently and move ahead. One that doesn't let you just sit around in the poison. I know, that right now I need to understand why I got involved with the person in the first place, how to seperate emotionally from my ex, and how to have self love, and ultimately how to have a healthy loving relationship in my future, so that I can model that kind of love for my children. If you have to see a few different therapists to find the right one for you, take the time and do it. You will know when you found the one who is going to move you in the right, healthy direction.
April 27, 2009 - 4:47pm
Barbara (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

look for

concrete experience with pathological relationships. no platitudes or pat answers no telling you to 'get over it' or 'move on' no blaming you If you get WOMEN WHO LOVE PSYCHOPATHS (which you know I strongly suggest; even if you have to go to the library and have them get you a copy to read) give it to the therapist. A good one will be HAPPY to read it. A bad one will continue taking your money and not educate themselves. While this talks about the Institute's therapists - it should give you a good framework of what your THERAPIST should be doing & looking for: ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Free articles & information for abuse victims: Cost-Effective Coaching for Victims of Pathologicals
April 27, 2009 - 7:42pm (Reply to #6)
quietude (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

thanks Barbara

Ya, she's pretty good, she doesn't blame me for anything. She does know some stuff about narcissism, but I think she may have little experience from what I can tell. What she says seems more textbook than actual experience. While I wouldn't mind giving her the book, I kind of at the same time want someone who is already pretty aware. I'll probably just have to shop around a bit more...!
April 27, 2009 - 8:07pm (Reply to #7)
Barbara (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

you know

If you can educate her - you might be doing her other patients a huge favor too. Education about pathologicals is big with me. (can you tell? LOL) ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Free articles & information for abuse victims: Cost-Effective Coaching for Victims of Pathologicals
April 28, 2009 - 12:04pm (Reply to #8)
fairy wings
fairy wings's picture

educating others

When I was living with my first abusive partner (he was also violent) the Police sent a volunteer from Victim Support to talk to me after he was arrested and bailed not to come to the village where I lived. Two hours later she left saying, 'thank you, I have learnt so much about domestic abuse from you'. I felt very proud that my experience may in the long run help her to have a greater understanding which in turn might help someone else. After I left him I contacted an ex-counsellor of mine for a reference for a job. It was a huge step for me to take, I had to think beyond my very low self-esteem at the time to even ask her. She phoned me and said she would be delighted. She went further and said I had given her so much insight in to this type of relationship. I felt so proud given her standing; I had looked up to her as her 'brief solutions focused methods' of counselling had helped me enormously to get 'unstuck' from him. She also asked 'have you still got that lovely pink handbag?'That proved she really remembered me! When I got the job which was in Domestic Violence Services I invited her to my place of work. She was able to meet the other staff and chat about the projects we were developing. I was so proud I had come this far and never could have imagined this would be the outcome. Today she and I still meet a couple of times a year for a meal or a coffee and she tells me she still tells clients about me (this is seven years on). At the time I was referred to her I thought she just thought I was a stupid, pathetic victim. Turns out she learnt a lot from me and no doubt that knowledge has helped her to help others. I would agree with Barbara about the benefits of educating others and it isn't all one sided; as you will see from my experience the benefits to my self-esteem were enormous too.
April 27, 2009 - 2:35pm
GhostBuster's picture


My therapy sessions (I'm a first-timer too) have mostly concentrating on figuring out why I tend to put my needs secondary and what things about me make me a likely target for Ns. My therapist isn't really experienced in Ns and I get the feeling she's not all that appreciative of me "assuming" my two ex's were Ns (or at very least, had substantial N traits). She kind of directs me away from focusing too much on the things he did and more toward myself. She doesn't blame me or point finger at me, but I suppose she does have a point that since the ex's aren't in therapy with me it's hard for her to say whether they are or aren't Ns. She's very sweet too, but I do wish sometimes she had more knowledge about Ns.
April 27, 2009 - 3:59pm (Reply to #2)
quietude (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

thanks GhostBuster

I appreciate your thoughts. I kind of feel like I'm in therapy 'light'. It's helpful, but just feeling like it scratches the surface, if that makes sense. I think I may start asking questions more instead of making statements, and then let her do a lot of the talking and explaining. :)
April 29, 2009 - 4:20am (Reply to #4)
Mariline's picture

Just my two cent

In my opinion, a good therapy is the one that works. If it is good, it works, it makes you feel stronger and better. If not....there is something wrong. It is true that to conquer awareness sometimes we must suffer, but as emotionally abused women we have already suffered enough. We have to recover. In my experience, my therapist used cognitive therapy to get me out of panick attacks and it worked. She used cognitive to help me understand, and it worked too. Recently, I simply feel I do not need her and as I have not that money, decision is already made. Remember: Safe People are people who draw you closer to who you were meant to be spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. They encourage you to be your most loving, growing self. (Emotional Abusers- Heartless Bitches International)
April 28, 2009 - 11:27am (Reply to #3)
cassiemay's picture


Perhaps it would be helpful to ask yourself what is it exactly that you are wanting from therapy? What exactly feels like is "missing"? What is it you feel you are left needing? If you can answer these questions then you could discuss it all with your therapist and see how she responds and you feel about that. A therapist will often sit back and wait for the client to identify her issues and may not push for that until the relationship is better developed. It can be very frustrating to "therapist shop" so it may be worthwile to try discussing this with her first. If you still feel dissatisfied then definitely go elsewhere. CM