When many people enter the therapists office for help with their marriage or other relationship, often they have no idea that their issue has anything to do with narcissism. Many don’t even really know what narcissism is. So, with all of these facts against you, how can you know how to expose a narcissist in therapy?
To expose a narcissist in therapy, you have to address their behavior as it relates to you, but in a calm and succinct way. It must be in writing or documentable in some way to prevent the narcissist lying, blame shifting, or denying everything you say. And you must be careful to find a therapist who understands narcissistic issues.
While this answer satisfies a good amount of how to expose a narcissist in therapy, there is more to the story. Let’s take a look at the bigger picture.
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To Expose a Narcissist in Therapy, You Must be Calm and Composed
Narcissists are experts at getting you spun up beyond your limit. By the time you can’t take another second of it, someone shows up. Then he very quietly and skillfully sends you over the edge. All the newcomer sees is you acting so out of control when he just gently said the simplest thing to you. What is wrong with you???
What the people who walk in later or don’t hear the whispers in your ear don’t realize is that he is slowly destroying you psychologically and emotionally and that is why you are reacting so extremely. And then you are tagged the crazy one while your narcissist becomes the victim.
This unfortunately, can also be the story in the therapist’s office as well. The problem with this is that by the time a couple (or other relationship, adjust it to match your situation) comes to therapy, the victim of the narcissist is suffering from foggy thinking, memory loss, insecurity, false guilt, inability to make a decision, anxiety and/or depression, lack of boundaries, and self-destructive patterns. All of these symptoms can cause a therapist to assume that the victim is actually the one with the problems. Well, they do have all those problems. But the counselor needs to see what got the victim to such an emotionally unhealthy life.
Sometimes, that doesn’t happen. Therapists may not be experienced in narcissistic tactics, so they don’t realize the narcissist is projecting, denying, gaslighting, and other things. Or the narcissist may be so skilled at their abuse that the therapist can’t see what is really going on. This is pretty rare, though. Narcissists are rarely perfect at covering their tracks.
These days, therapists tend to be pretty adept at picking up narcissistic behavior. And often, even if they can’t see exactly what is going on, other therapists in their office will see it a mile away.
To Expose a Narcissist in Therapy, You Must be Able to Document or Prove What you Say
If your therapist doesn’t seem to be picking up on your narcissist’s bad behavior, it may not be enough to just let him or her give themselves away during your sessions. You may have to bring some documentation of what is really going on that the narcissists hides. It is impossible to express everything that is going on in the course of the week or two previous to the therapy session.
And when you and your narcissist’s story are at opposite ends of the spectrum, it has to be hard at first for the therapists to know who is telling the truth and who is not. In this case, if you have documentation that allows you to prove your point, it may be a good time to use it.
What kind of documents would be helpful? Here is a list that will give you a pretty good start. It is not comprehensive, but if you take this and run with it, you will get better at mastering this sooner than you think!
Anyway, here is the list to get you started:
- Letters from your narcissist to you
- Letters your narcissist wrote to others about you
- Other counselor’s reports
- Church documentation (could be a letter from a pastor who knows what is going on, reports, church discipline, or other important documents)
- Witness documentation
- Financial statements
If you have other documentation ideas, share them with us in the comments below!
To Expose a Narcissist in Therapy, You Must Choose the Right Therapist
This may actually be the most important component to expose a narcissist in therapy. You must find a narcissist you can trust to relate to in honest and open conversation. If you cannot speak freely, how will you be able to show what is going on behind closed doors?
This, of course, doesn’t mean you can verbally destroy your partner in session, even if he is a narcissist. But it does mean that you have the ability to tell things like they are.
You will know pretty quickly whether or not you and your therapist mesh. If you have gone to three or four sessions and you still don’t feel comfortable that your therapist understands what you are trying to communicate, it is likely time to do one of two things:
- Speak to your therapist about how you feel things are progressing, or more specifically, not progressing.
- Politely part ways and find a new therapist that will understand you.
The right therapist should be able to pick up on narcissistic behavior just by listening to the narcissist talk. How do narcissists give themselves away? Here are some of the ways:
- They accuse you of the things they are doing.
- They lie about even the most mundane things.
- You catch them telling your friends untrue things about you.
- They can’t keep their story straight.
- They start to show narcissistic behavior toward the therapist because they are angry at him/her for calling them out for the narcissism.
Once again, if you have other ways you can share with us, please do so in the comments below.
To Expose a Narcissist in Therapy, Don’t Use the Word Narcissist
I learned this very early on in therapy because my therapist was amazing in communication. Once she realized what was going on and shared it with me, she let me know that even once we knew what the names of the issues were, we weren’t going to use those names. We were going to address the behavior. Why did she (and the vast majority of therapists) do it this way?
First, therapists don’t like to use titles for people’s issues because it can be devastating to them to be tagged with something. Or conversely, they could use it as an excuse for bad or inappropriate behavior.
Second, therapists don’t like to use title for people’s issues because the focus needs to be on improving behaviors, thought processes, and emotional health. The titles simply get in the way.
So, then, why do we test people to find out the name of the issue? Simply because naming the issue allows the therapist to see the behavioral/mental/other issues in full view to be able to work on them more completely. It is a diagnostic tool. And not a label.
And if you’re worried that the narcissist won’t be exposed because you can’t use the word narcissist, have no fear! Their own behavior will betray them every time.
If you are in therapy with a narcissist, and your therapist is not understanding the full picture of what is going on or understanding you, then you need to move to another one that does understand. This does not mean being in an echo chamber. It means you have legitimate issues that are not being heard or understood.
Most therapists in today’s world understand narcissism and its effects, both on the narcissist and their victim. So, it may take a few sessions to understand this. But you should have a good solid idea sooner than later.
Did you spend time in therapy with a narcissist? How did it go? How long did it take the therapist to figure it out? Did they figure it out? Did you find healing? Are you still on that journey? I would love to hear your story, and it can be so helpful to other readers to see they are not alone.
Do you think you may be in a relationship with a narcissist? If you think so, take this test with instant results to get a better idea of whether you are indeed involved with a narcissist and what healing you will need to pursue.
Are you just now in the beginning stages of recognizing narcissistic abuse in your life and not sure where to go or what to do next? Marie helps people start to put the pieces together to get quickly on the pathway of healing. She has many resources you can check out here, but if you would like quicker, more direct guidance specific to your situation, a direct consultation with Marie may be more helpful to you. You can check out the various consultation options here.
Hugs and love,
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