Counselling for narcissistic abuse

Narcissistic abuse is shown in many different ways by someone who has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).


Anyone can be a victim of narcissistic abuse from a parent, friend, work colleague or family member. The abuse they inflict on their victims can be emotional, physical, financial and/or sexual.

Focusing on narcissistic partners, from the moment someone meets a narcissist, especially in a romantic form, the abuse starts – this is the love bombing stage. This stage is where the narcissist grooms their victim into making them believe they have met their soulmate by portraying themselves as everything the victim has ever wanted, using techniques such as mirroring and future faking. 

Once the narcissist sees the victim falling for their fake charm and manipulation, they start to push the victim’s boundaries to see how much they can get away with and how easy it’s going to be to manipulate and control them. Over time, the mask slips, and the victim starts to see their true identity which is nothing like who they first met. The person the victim fell in love with was a ghost which is why it’s so hard to break away from a narcissist as a trauma bond had been formed. This is where the victim has become so dependent on the narcissist to give them the love and affection which they see little and little of as time goes by. But, they can’t imagine their life without them. 

The narcissist often isolates their victims from family and family as it makes it easier for them to abuse their victims without outsiders’ interference. As time goes by the victim starts to lose their identity as gaslighting is one of the most common techniques a narcissist uses to make the victim feel they are losing their mind and everything that goes wrong is their fault. 

It’s very common for the victim to go into the trauma response ‘fawn’ and can very often develop complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Experiencing narcissistic abuse can be deadly with many victims turning to self-harm, substance abuse or an eating disorder to try and cope with the horrific abuse they are enduring every day. It takes on average seven attempts of leaving a narcissist as the partner uses clever tactics to hoover their victim back in by making empty promises and pleading for forgiveness. The reason for this is that the narcissist hasn’t finished abusing their victim and it’s their worst nightmare is to be discarded first; they normally need another supply/victim ready before they discard the one they are with. 

Validating your story is extremely important in therapy, and ensuring you’re believed. 

A narcissist often uses smear campaigns to manipulate others around them to make them believe the victim is actually the abuser and everyone should feel sorry for them. This is also a very damaging part of the abuse to a victim and it makes them feel everyone is against them and feel more isolated. The narcissist will feel no remorse or guilt as they have very little to no empathy. They feel very entitled and display a very God-like persona. They lie continually and will do anything to get their own way.

How counselling for narcissistic abuse works

If you have experienced narcissistic abuse, you may struggle with a lot of self-doubt and have very little self-worth. Firstly, it’s important you’re given the opportunity to get your story out in therapy. You likely will have been silenced for years, either by fear of not being believed or embarrassment that you got into this position.

Validating your story is extremely important in therapy, and ensuring you’re believed. 

There are many parts of therapy. You may have experienced a lot of trauma which needs to be worked through as well as understanding what narcissistic abuse is as it is still relatively unknown. You will learn about gaslighting, as well as many other forms of manipulation and control you may have experienced. 

Addiction therapy is also used as the trauma bond needs to be broken, which is the same type of addiction as drugs and alcohol. Therapy helps you to change your mindset by building your self-worth and self-love so that you understand you deserve better.

It’s common that you may also experience anxiety and depression, so techniques to help with this and flashbacks will be worked through in therapy. 

The question that gets asked a lot is, "Why did I fall for this abuse? " In my clinic, this is where I talk about the client’s past and childhood as, in many cases, I have found they may have experienced narcissistic abuse as a child from a parent or family member. This then forms a pattern of abuse that the client is so used to seeing. A therapist’s job here is to ensure they break this pattern. It’s up to your therapist to teach you the red flags to look out for and how to deal with them by having strong boundaries, which are vital in recovery.  

Why talking therapy is part of a successful recovery plan

Talking therapy is successful because many victims haven’t been able to talk to anyone during or after the abuse. You may have felt you weren’t able to open up to friends or family in the fear of being judged or not believed. Talking to a therapist that is empathic, warm, validating and understanding is just what a victim of narcissistic abuse needs. It gives you the opportunity to be honest with the therapist and yourself.

When you talk about what you have been through, you then realise the trauma you’ve experienced. Because narcissistic abuse is very subtle, it’s not always so apparent what is happening but when a client talks about it all in one go, they recognise for themselves the pain and awful treatment they have experienced.  

What can you expect from a session?

You can expect to be listened to, believed, validated and educated. Like any addiction recovery programme, you must want to be free from your abuser and heal. If you are still not ready to give up the narcissist, your therapist must understand this and allow you to make your own choices.

There is no happy ending with a narcissist, but you have to find that out for yourself and to know your therapist is there for you wherever you need them to help work through the trauma and pain you’re experiencing. There is no judgement in sessions, only support and therapy techniques that work. If you're feeling ready to talk to a therapist, you can email me or use our search tool to find a counsellor.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Rayleigh SS6 & Sevenoaks TN14
Written by Emma Davey, MBACP Counsellor / Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Specialist
Rayleigh SS6 & Sevenoaks TN14

I am a qualified Trauma Informed Counsellor and a ICF Somatic Trauma Informed Recovery Coach for victims that have suffered from Narcissistic Abuse, Domestic Abuse and Coercive Control. I'm the Founder of MyNARA (My Narcissistic Abuse Recovery App) -, can also be found in the App Stor...

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