Peeking into the complexities of the narcissistic client can arouse our curiosity. Treating them individually or in the context of couple’s work can arouse our sense of inadequacy and sheer frustration. Maintaining a firm and flexible posture, understanding our own personal triggers along with the narcissist’s makeup – helps us to bypass obstacles when dealing with them, promoting a sturdy stance for (empathically) holding the narcissist accountable. In so doing, we can sustain the necessary leverage for healing, and for meaningful, sustainable, change. But how can we summon up the courage, maintain an empathically attuned state of mind, and effectively engage these clients when they’re more likely to defend, deny, demean, devalue attack, distract, and charm us rather than cooperate with us and comply with treatment? Exploring the critical content related to early life experience and unmet needs is essential to the formulation of a robust conceptualization and the implementation of treatment but can be a triggering endeavor for many therapists when facing the belligerence, self-righteous entitlement, denial, neurotic victimization, and arrogance, of a narcissistic client. Treating the narcissistic client – overt and covert – involves meeting early unmet needs such as, unconditional love and acceptance, empathy, and tolerance for frustration and limits. This comes with the challenge of confronting bullying, critical, passive-aggressive, detached, martyrish, and approval-seeking modes. These clients sometimes default into hypersexual activity such as pornography, cyber-sexual relationships, prostitutes, affairs, or other erotic preoccupation. Intimacy is fractured and the refurbishing of trust is challenging due to the “betrayal trauma” of offended partners and the entitled stance of the narcissist. Healing is possible when leverage is high enough and partners are willing to engage in the treatment process individually and together. At the heart of schema therapy, we have an approach capable of weakening narcissistic coping modes, and internal demanding critic modes. Adaptive responses replace unhelpful ones as schemas heal. Using effective strategies grounded in emotional engagement and the therapy relationship, therapists are poised to correct the biased early emotional experiences typically linked with high demands for extraordinary performance, confusing messages of over-indulgence alongside inferiority and insecure attachments, devalued emotional experiences, and poor limit setting.
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This training will provide participants clinical knowledge and tools to:
a). Describe the Schema Therapy model and how to comprehensively conceptualize Narcissism and NPD in formulating treatment strategies.
b). Acquire the use of a highly effective strategy known as empathic confrontation to gain and maintain leverage and avoid power struggles, address entitlement and lack of reciprocity, access reasonable responsibility, and set limits with the narcissist.
c). Learn and observe how to apply specific strategies such as replacing self-defeating patterns and coping modes with healthy and adaptive modes via the moment-to-moment encounters in the therapy relationship.
d). Develop a sturdy self in the chair by identifying and stabilizing the therapist’s personal challenges—our own schemas—a major obstacle to treatment effectiveness.
e). Create customized dialogues that maintain leverage and enhance opportunities to access client vulnerability and emotion.
f). Learn how to facilitate treatment with offended partners; the recovery and fortifying of a voice of advocacy; setting limits, cultivating leverage for accountability; identifying the impact of unacceptable behaviors, and enforcing reasonable consequences that act as motivational drivers for the narcissist to seek treatment.
The target audience for this event includes psychologists, social workers, counselors, MFT’s, psychiatrists and other clinical mental health professionals.
Instructional Level: Intermediate
Instructor(s): Wendy Behary, MSW, LCSW
Material Author(s): Wendy Behary, MSW, LCSW
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