NARCISSISTIC SPECTRUM or NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER?
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is difficult to diagnose and in many cases a diagnosis serves no purpose. The very nature of a narcissist is to deny they are flawed in any way and therefore they will also dismiss a diagnosis. Current thinking considers that there is no 'cure' or 'treatment' for this disorder. In my therapeutic approach I prefer to think of the condition as a spectrum rather than a disorder
Narcissism is a term that is currently overused and has become a throw away label to describe undiagnosed people who are may display traits of the disorder and so I approach this issue with sensitivity. Traits of narcissism - egocentric behaviour, manipulations, outrage, grandiosity or self importance etc are all normal behaviours in small children and babies and serve as survival mechanisms to ensure our basic human needs are met. If basic needs are not responded to appropriately in early life some of these natural behaviours can become embedded as personality traits or the response behaviours develop into survival behaviours which in turn become defence mechanisms and then go on to impact future relationships.
Many adults therefore, do display some narcissistic traits and this may not be problematic. However, those traits may emerge as a dominating force in some relationships and cause harm in several ways.
The harm manifests in the partner (victim) feeling fragile, crazy, like a failure, unworthy of love, unsure of themselves, increasingly isolated and often afraid. As the person tries to meet the increasingly difficult and unpredictable demands of their partner, they are met with more manipulation, coercion, threats and ultimatums (mental and emotional abuse).
For the victims, the realisation that the person you fell in love with is not quite who they seemed is a slow and painful dawning of realisation and youmight be very shocked at finding themselves in what amounts to an abusive situation. This is where therapy can help.
One of the biggest challenges for clients exiting relationships with narcissists is that each contact with the ex triggers them in some way. Having 'no contact' is not always possible especially if children are involved and even more so if court proceedings are dragging out. Notably court proceedings are often prolonged by the actions of the party with narcissistic traits because the process and the drama it provides is like nectar for them.
Text messages and emails from the ex may be emotionally draining, abusive, coersive and ultimately undermine the clients determination to uphold their boundaries leaving them feeling fragile, hopeless and alone. Being able to separate the nonsense from the relevant detail is a skill which needs to be aquired.
It can be exceptionally difficult to set new boundaries with a person who has trampled all over them over a period of many years. Your view of all the words can become skewed,undermining what you believe and what you are learning about yourself in therapy, until you learn to become less emotionally attached to the drama and confusion they love to create.
I offer a specialised therapy style for clients affected by problematic narcissism. This therapy is gentle and paced to avoid additional distress. My role as your therapist is to guide you to your own understanding, to accompany you on your journey of healing, to help you make sense of the past, to learn to love yourself and to see a future in which your happiness, safety and heartfelt dreams become reality.
The work for you, the client is to understand why you became attracted to this person, in order to avoid repeating patterns in future relationships, and more importantly how and why you permitted certain unacceptable behaviours early on in the relationship, setting the tone for further disregard of boundaries down the line. In therapy we often talk about how the 'blinkers are on' or how the lens through which an individual perceives the world allows you to make allowances for unacceptable behaviours early in relationships. Understanding your attachment style also contributes to you gaining insight into why you respond the way you do and how this might have allowed a narcissistic individual to become involved with you.
Invariably the clients I work with come with fragile self esteem, strong feelings of self doubt and struggle to set and uphold their own boundaries. By the end of the work they will have overcome these barriers and be growing into confident individuals with a strong sense of their beliefs and a clear set of boundaries which can not be crossed. Their self respect is restored and their ability to recognise their own process in interactions with others has become clear.
Eleanor offered counseling to me at one of the lowest points in my entire life, and after a year of sessions with her, I'm arguably the best me I've ever been. Potential patients will be hard-pressed to find a more empathetic counselor who listens to what you have to say and provides you with the insight that will allow you to grow in the direction that is best for you. Though I no longer need regular sessions, I will be a lifelong customer of Eleanor as the need arises, and I will be quick to recommend her to anyone in need of counseling in any way, shape, or form.
COMMUNICATION BRIDGING SERVICE
I offer a standalone service to help clients communicate effectively and objectively with their NARCISSISTIC ex. This service does not provide 1-2-1 counselling but does manage and in turn help you to manage your interactions in an appropriate way which does not encourage the narcissists behaviour but does move things forwards towards a solution.
The service is designed to help clients exiting a narcissistic relationship to manage their interactions better and change the historical basis of the relationship. It is a stand alone service for clients who perhaps can not afford or are not ready for the depth of therapeutic work and can be an invaluable tool for dealing with the narcissist and retraining the client's brain to reduce instances of emotional triggering. It is not suitable for clients who are still living with a narcissistic partner or parent.
I have received excellent ad hoc coaching advice from Eleanor for managing conflicts during my divorce from a narcissist as well as with narcissistic professional peers.
Her guidance has incrementally helped me to develop resilience and the ability to react less and respond more calmly when exposed to the triggers narcissistic behaviour generates in me.
Professionally, the support has help me to communicate more safely in person and over the telephone, which has helped me to achieve what I set out to do, rather than be tripped up by narcissistic patterns.
Matt August 2020
RECOVERING FROM DIVORCE/SEPARATION
Divorce and Separation can be an especially stressful experience, where both parties are often left emotionally bruised and with a sense of 'matters unresolved'. People can continue to experience the loss of what was and what might have been for quite some time. You are experiencing the grieving process.
At the end of a relationship you might want to work on rebuilding your self-esteem and developing new found confidence. You may also want to understand your role in the breakdown of the relationship so that you can approach future relationships differently and with a greater understanding of your self and your relational needs. We can do this collaboratively in therapy. Once you have a greater understanding of yourself it is helpful for us to work on establishing clear values and boundaries as a framework for setting goals and planning for the future.
DEALING WITH ANXIETY or DEPRESSION
Everyone is likely to feel anxiety at some time in their lives, however, for some people it becomes an all-consuming problem which can be debilitating.
In day to day life stressful situations trigger the sympathetic nervous system into action. Your brain is alert to a percieved danger and your fight or flight response is triggered.
Problematic anxiety arises when you are unable to switch back to allow the sympathetic nervous system to relax and allow the parasympathetic nervous system to govern your day by day experiences. You become overly concerned, perhaps afraid of the future and in this state you are often unable to refer to and detach from events in the past. The historic events continue to inform your responses and thus your decisions, often undermining your ability to manage the situation from the position of now.The more this occurs the more embedded the responses become.
Depression conversely is a deeply overwhelming sadness caused by an inability to move forward, to leave behind the past with acceptance. An inability to look to the future with any sense of joy, optimism or hope. Depression interferes with your motivation, your capacity to make healthy decisions and colours your perception of everything. You are likely to withdraw from human connection and you feel alone and isolated but unable to reconnect. When your whole outlook on life becomes bathed in the essence of 'nothing is worth my time and effort and nobody cares anyway' it can be very difficult to make sense of or shift out of this mindset.
Counselling can help you to rationalise these difficult feelings and begin to build a broader perspective of your world, ultimately alleviating the pain experienced within. I provide a safe place to explore uncomfortable feelings and help you understand where they come from, to make sense of them and to create new processes and practises which help you to experience life from a more optimistic and involved way. Understanding that you have the power to choose your responses and practising choosing different ways of thinking is key to your healing journey. In our work together I will help you reflect on your reactions to situations, to notice the thoughts, feelings and actions and how they do or do not help and in turn to identify ways of changing your patterns of behaviour to help you ove into a different way of dealing with life on a daily basis.
LOSS & GRIEF WORK
Dealing with loss can be a challenging experience for most people which can, if not fully processed, leave the individual feeling hopeless, helpless and unable to perceive a future worth living.
Bereavement is not always the result of the death of a loved one, but can be the end of a relationship, retirement from a long work career, significant changes to health, loss of support structures due to relocation etc.
Anticipated end of life can create difficulties for many people whether it is anticipating their own death or the death of a loved one. Periods of serious illness or the diagnosis of a terminal/incurable condition force us to confront our mortality and often there is no opportunity to explore feelings about these issues.
Counselling offers a safe place to bring these topics into the open and together we will navigate our way through the complex and unique emotional responses which arise for you when confronted with loss, mortality etc.
IF clients are unable to visit me due to illness by agreement I can come to your home or Hospice/hospital.
CONFIDENCE & SELF ESTEEM
Self Esteem and self-confidence are natural to everyone - you are born with a strong sense of your importance and are not afraid to make your needs known. For all sorts of reasons as you grew and learned to moderate your demands from others you might have developed the sense that none of your needs are important, that your wishes need not be valued. In order to adapt you learn to deny these unmet needs and you may have a strong sense of being ignored, dismissed, unheard and so on. Without the attunement of a significant carer affirming your validity your confidence in having your needs met dminishes. You might end up falling into behaviour patterns which serve to devalue you further- negative self-talk, self-criticism, unexpressed anger and an overwhelming sense of failure may pervade your lives and impact on overall wellbeing and your capacity to fulfill your purpose in life.
Counselling work for low self-esteem/worth focusses on identifying your strengths, finding reasons to self-affirm and developing self-compassion enabling you to grow in confidence. Together we will discover and challenge some of the beliefs you have formed about yourself and creatively explore if you want to continue to hold these beliefs or if you wish to replace them. You will learn to be curious with yourself and to feel safe questioning old longheld beliefs which you may have adopted or accepted as true. You will grow in confidence and you will discover that the most satisfying affirmation of self comes from within. When internal validation becomes the mirror for all external validation you will know you are living authentically and your confidence will soar. The work is tailored to you and we work at a gentle enquiring pace, allowing you to achieve your goals in a way which is comfortable and safe.
WALKEASE© is an excellent approach for many clients with varied therapeutic needs. Therapy begins with a face to face consultation in the counselling room or online. WALKEASE© may be introduced early in the process, or later when a relationship is firmly established. It is not a requirement of being in counselling.
When WALKEASE© therapy has been included as part of the counselling process I have noticed significant changes. I have observed the healing process accelerating, physical health improving, self esteem climbing and mood calming. The idea of filling an hour talking one to one in a small space can be daunting and off putting for some. The idea of talking and walking one to one has less intensity and may feel more comfortable.
Please contact me and we can talk about starting safe Socially Distanced WALKEASE therapy.
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