How to Find a Therapist Who Understands Narcissistic Abuse Recovery & NPD: 10 Powerful Questions

Written by Angela Atkinson

When you’re going through narcissistic abuse recovery, you might want to find a good narcissistic abuse therapist. If so, you’re obviously going to want one who is familiar with the topic of narcissistic abuse and also has a good understanding of narcissistic personality disorder and the extreme effects being involved with this sort of person can have on your entire life. And how do you go about finding a narcissism-informed therapist anyway?

How to Find a Narcissistic Abuse Therapist

In this video, I’ll explain how you can find a narcissistic abuse therapist and give you a list of questions to ask the therapist about narcissism and narcissistic abuse recovery.

Research proves that the most effective therapy happens when the relationship between the client and the therapist is comfortable and where the client feels understood.

This is especially important for narcissistic abuse survivors because so often, we are starved of any personal validation. We need to know that they “feel” us – feel me?

How to Interview Your Potential Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist

Start With a List of Potential Therapist Candidates

The first step to finding a narcissistic abuse recovery therapist is to find a list of therapists covered by your insurance company who specializes in relationships and emotional abuse, if possible. You might also find therapists who specialize in codependency, adult children of abusive parents, or even family therapy.

Schedule the Interview or a Single Session to Evaluate

Don’t commit to a therapist unless you feel comfortable with them. A lot of people don’t know this, but you can do an interview or an introductory session with therapists, in most cases. So, if possible, you can schedule an in-person, online, or telephone interview in advance. Failing that, you could also just schedule a single session to explain your situation and evaluate the therapist and whether he or she will be a good fit for you.

Ask This Question to Figure Out If the Therapist is a Fit for Your Recovery

Maybe you don’t want the therapist to know that you’re sort of “testing them,” so you’d like to kind of tiptoe around the issue, while still figuring out if they can help with narcissistic abuse recovery effectively. If you can only ask one question or you prefer to avoid the more direct approach, here’s a quick way to find out if your therapist is familiar with narcissistic abuse recovery and narcissistic personality disorder.

Ask the therapist “What is your take on gaslighting?” You can also add, “how would you explain gaslighting to someone who hadn’t heard of it before?”

I’ve had a lot of clients tell me that their therapists aren’t familiar with that term, and if they’re not, it’s a really great sign that they don’t know about it. I also suggest, if possible, that you find someone who has at least a bit of personal experience with emotional abuse – and if they have, they’ll generally admit that to you. Visit Our Find a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist Page.

10 Questions to Help Determine if They Can Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

If you’ve got time for a full-on interview, here are some questions to consider asking to figure out if the therapist you’re considering working with will be able to help with your narcissistic abuse recovery and any C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms you might be struggling with.

1. What do you know about emotional abuse? 

You may or may not actually want to mention the term “narcissist” or even “narcissistic personality disorder.” In that case, just say “emotional abuse” or “psychological abuse” and leave the actual diagnosis to the therapist. Here are some examples of things you can say.

  • I have been dealing with someone who has emotionally abused me, and this person appears to demonstrate some of (or all of) the traits of narcissistic personality disorder.
  • I’m hoping to work on recovering from an abusive relationship.
  • How would you go about treating that?
2. What is your approach or your therapy style for narcissistic abuse recovery? 

You might also get specific, saying something like, “Regarding your therapy style, do you lean more toward cognitive behavior therapy or digging into the deep core issues or the root of the problem?” Here are some tips to help you figure out what the right answer for you will be in this case.

  • If you want to start feeling better by treating symptoms and learning coping techniques, you want a therapist who is more CBT-focused.
  • If you want to reach the root of the problem, you will want to dig into it with a psychodynamic-based therapy style.
  • Ideally, you might want both – so a program that starts by treating the immediate pain and that leads to digging into the root causes as you go. A combined approach would probably be best for you as a narcissistic abuse survivor. It’s good to understand how you got there so you won’t be there again.
  • Best Practice: If it fits in your budget, get a narcissistic abuse recovery coach along with your therapist. This way, you can focus on learning coping techniques and getting validation from a coach who understands where you are, as well as traditional therapy.
3. Do you usually act as more of a guide or more of a consultant?

Fact: Some therapists use really harsh “in your face” kinds of therapy and this is usually not good for survivors. It’s often used by practitioners of “Gestalt” therapy which puts all personal responsibility for your circumstances on your own shoulders.  Now, don’t get me wrong. Each of us can shoulder our own responsibility in the relationship – mostly, we are responsible on some level for tolerating as long as we did, for allowing ourselves to be disrespected over and over again. But what many traditional therapists don’t take into account (and won’t recognize) is the extreme amount of psychological warfare we experience at the hands of a narcissist.

So, while none of us is completely without fault in having been in the toxic relationship, we are not to blame for the abuse we endured.  After spending years or even decades being told you are the cause of every single problem on the planet, you don’t need any more blame. You need actual help. In other words, you want to know if they’re going to lead the sessions with a tight, planned structure or if they’ll let you lead with whatever you’re dealing with. I like the idea of a flexible session – so if you want to talk about a specific thing, it’s okay to put your planned goals for the scheduled session on hold.

4. Have you ever helped someone like me before?

For the most part, you don’t have the time or energy to be anyone’s guinea pig in narcissistic abuse recovery. So, ask the therapist if they have done this before. Some clarifying questions you can ask include the following.

  • Are you familiar with domestic violence and/or emotional abuse in relationships?
  • Have you ever helped someone through narcissistic abuse recovery?
  • What is your best piece of advice for recovering from this kind of trauma?
5. Do you offer phone check-ins or text support between sessions?
  • You may or may not wish to check in with your narcissistic abuse recovery therapist between sessions. This is a good time to find out their preference.
  • Be careful to find out the times you are able to check-in (if that’s the case) and how quickly (and how often) you can expect a response.
6. Will you give me advice if I ask for it specifically?

Some therapists absolutely will not give advice or direction under any circumstances, depending on their particular style. If you want to ask for advice and get answers, you need to know ahead of time if that will be an option.

7. What can I expect during our work together? 
  • Will you give me assignments and/or coping techniques I can use between sessions for healing and managing during recovery?
  • What will a session be like?
  • How often will we meet?
8. Who is your ideal client?
9. Is our session completely confidential, or will you disclose details to my insurance company (or employer)?
10. Do you think you can help me?

The Most Important Part: Does it FEEL right?

How to take notes during the interview.

Consider the following points in your notes during the interview.

  • How quickly you were able to feel comfortable with the therapist.
  • Whether you felt rushed or if you were allowed to go at a comfortable pace.
  • Whether the therapist seemed to “get” you from the start, or it took several attempts to help them see your point of view or perspective, or to understand what you were trying to explain.
  • Whether you understood the responses clearly and comfortably.
  • Whether you think you’d feel comfortable sharing your deepest secrets with this person.

My best tip? Go with your gut! Use your intuition! Since you might be an empath, pay attention to how the therapist makes you FEEL. You should feel comfortable and not feel the need to hide who you are in any way from this person. You should not feel “judged,” just safe.

Why Traditional Therapy Doesn’t Always Work for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

It seems counterintuitive, but in some cases, a specific therapist may not be the ideal person to help with your narcissistic abuse recovery.

Therapists are often under-educated when it comes to narcissistic abuse recovery and toxic relationships with people with narcissistic personality disorder. It’s not that therapists are useless, it’s just that they don’t always know the depths of emotional abuse and how to recognize someone with narcissistic personality disorder.

In most cases, when you consult psychologists on love, they are fairly accurate. But when it comes to finding a good narcissistic abuse therapist, it’s often easier said than done. And going to couples therapy with a narcissist will almost definitely set you up for victim-blaming.

In this video, Dana Morningstar and I discuss the possibilities and explain how to find the right therapist for you – whether you’re dealing with CPTSD, narcissistic abuse syndrome, or any other complication of toxic relationships. Plus, we’ll explain why therapy for narcissistic abuse isn’t effective and doesn’t always work. And why you should never go to couples therapy with a narcissis

Evidence That Therapists Aren’t Taught About Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Abuse in School

The video below, entitled Therapist Who Survived Narcissistic Parents & Toxic Childhood on How Therapy Failed Her, is an interview with a therapist who is also a survivor on why therapists don’t always understand what you’ve gone through during narcissistic relationships and how YouTube videos gave her the final piece she needed for healing.

If you’re considering counseling for divorce or going no contact with someone with NPD, this video might help you make more careful choices in your healing.

Visit Our Find a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist Page for Additional Information

Resources That Might Help You

Ways to Get Support

Helpful Related articles

Author

  • Angela Atkinson is a certified trauma counselor and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery, and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships since 2006, she has a popular narcissistic abuse recovery YouTube channel. Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own. Atkinson offers trauma-informed narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and has certifications in trauma counseling, life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation, and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves. Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse here at QueenBeeing.com and at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online.

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