In general, using a counsellor / psychologists / therapist to work through trauma and life-changing events can be very beneficial. Their role in working through relationship issues in couples therapy in the case of NPD needs the utmost care, however.
Like many others before you, you are fighting for the success of your marriage / partnership. You love them, and you are clinging to the hope that with a few changes on both sides, you partner will be able to strengthen their love for you and vice versa. You are fully committed to the relationship, and between you you both have so much invested in the partnership it would be crazy not to try all avenues. You are decent – you tell the truth, you are compassionate and empathic, you are prepared to listen, learn and change.
Moreover, you seek validation.
If both partners in therapy were broadly of the same view, couples therapy stands a good chance of proving invaluable.
The Narcopath’s Aims
You must understand that a narcopath has a very different agenda to you. They are incapable of love, empathy, compassion – and so what you want is completely irrelevant to them – unless it impacts on the narcissistic supply they are able to derive from you. And in this respect, couples’ therapy can be a veritable treasure trove:
- They derive satisfaction in the pain they cause you – it makes them feel significant and powerful;
- You open up and share your deepest feelings, fears and insecurities – which they will study and use against you later;
- They will seek to play the victim so well that they turn the therapist against you – invalidating your thoughts and thoroughly confusing you, whilst further emboldening the narcopath;
- The secrets about you learnt, and the validation they instead have received, will give the narcopath oodles of material for their smear campaign – which is probably already underway without you even realising it.
Wrong therapy causes immense harm
I had embarked on three separate marriage guidance courses with three different counsellors who specialising in marriage guidance. Not one of them picked up on NPD – and in hindsight, I am not convinced that any of them had any decent experience of the disorder. It is often said that no psychologist understands NPD unless they themselves have had first hand experience of it. It’s a view that I fully subscribe to. Moreover, one of the world’s leading psychologists and abuse recovery coaches, Richard Grannon, was himself ensnared by a narcopath despite an 8 year career practicing as a counsellor – but as a generalist. It was his life-changing experience that pushed him into his new specialist – after spending considerable time and effort sorting himself out.
The fourth counsellor my wife and I went to, after I had stumbled across NPD by accident when googling “I can never be wrong syndrome”, was given the specific brief of sorting us out in the light of NPD being a probability.
Not only was the counselling I then received expensive but worthless, I now believed that it posed considerable danger to my mental health. Why? Because the counsellor was trying to instill in me intuitive reasoning in order to help me deal with a counter-intuitive personality. It wasn’t so much that I was given the wrong tools – I had had the right tools all along. It was that I had the right tools – but for the wrong job. The exercise left me thoroughly confused, emotionally exhausted, demoralised – and with a load of false hope. She was trying to patch up the marriage , where what she should have done was got me to face realities, to help me understand the twisted world of the narcopath, to learn the art of self-care, and to assist me in planning my escape. She did none of these.
What she actually did was to professionally gaslight me. Having myself stumbled across the keys to unlock my perceived insanity, she caused me to doubt once again what it was that I had experienced and why. Where I sought clarity and validation, she gave me confusion and self-doubt.
Rather than go down the route of couples’ therapy, consider instead the route that many survivors advocate – that of keeping your thoughts secret, undertake a process of self-validation, and then plan your escape.
I would still recommend seeking the assistance of a therapist – but only one is a specialist in NPD with a proven track history (which probably means that they must be a NPD abuse survivor themselves), and bear in mind my remarks about couples therapy.
- Self Validation
- Escaping the NPD relationship
Confronting the Narcopath with your suspicions
The hard and fast rule of thumb, recommended by survivors and psychologists alike, is do not ever confront a narc with your suspicions in the hopes that they will work on a programme of self-improvement. The will not change, as they have convinced themselves that they are perfect and are therefore completely closed to any responsibility to becoming a better person or partner.
Moreover, there is considerable danger in alerting the Narcopath that you suspect Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Two things rank top in their list of mortal fears – being abandoned, and being exposed. If they think that you will expose them, they will do all that they possibly can to destroy you. It is as simple as that.