Adult Children of Narcissistic Families
Narcissistic families come in two forms: overt and covert.
Overtly dysfunctional family dynamics can be easy for the children, or outsiders, to identify. Example of overt dysfunction include drug use, physical abuse, verbal abuse (such as yelling), sexual abuse and incest, abandonment and neglect, and some forms of emotional and psychological abuse. As an adult reminiscing on your childhood, the trauma you experienced may be easily identifiable upon inspection.
But what happens when the trauma is not so easily identifiable upon inspection? Covertly dysfunctional family dynamics are different. Everything may have seemed average or even great to you and to outsiders. You may have had all of your physical needs met with plenty of food, clothing, after-school activities and hobbies to keep busy, and your family may have been actively involved in the community. Your family probably looked like most other families on your street, or maybe even better. Yet, you may feel a sense of discomfort when reminiscing about your childhood. Something feels off and you may wonder, "how could I feel this way when everything truly seemed normal?" You may feel confused and begin to question your experienced reality, especially if others do not share your discomfort. The answer lies in the statement, "seemed normal."
Children of overtly and covertly narcissistic families could not go to their parents for emotional support or comfort, and were often responsible for meeting the needs of their parents. These children were afraid to rock the boat, felt defective or inadequate, or felt they could not meet their parents expectations no matter how hard they tried and how well they listened. These children may have experienced emotional and psychological abuse such as silent treatments, gaslighting, denying and minimizing (see resources page for more examples). As adults, they may:
- focus on pleasing others
- struggle with being assertive with their own needs and wants
- have limited or no boundaries
- feel uncomfortable with their own emotions
- look to others to guide their emotional expression
- have trouble trusting others
- feel defective and inadequate
- fear being abandoned
- and so on.
Our childhood experiences can have lasting impacts on how we function as adults both independently and within relationships. Through our work together, I hope that you will come to accept that you, the child, had little control over or blame for how your parents raised you. You are not worthless, defective, crazy, selfish, or any other label that was unjustly placed on you.
As an adult, you can gain mastery and control over your life. You can learn to trust your reality and accept your emotions without fear. You can establish and maintain healthy boundaries across all aspects of life. You can also come to identify the specific dynamics of your childhood experiences so you learn to avoid them in future romantic or platonic relationships, thus putting an end to the cycle.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)
ART is the closest tool I have to a magic wand. Whether you have experienced complex developmental trauma or a "single-event" trauma, ART helps us keep the facts of what happened, but allows us to erase the imagery, emotions and sensations that cause our distress. Through the use of rapid eye-movements that mimic REM stage of sleep (stage of sleep when our brain heals itself), we begin by de-coupling negative emotions and sensations from the negative imagery, then we replace the negative imagery with positive imagery and reinforce new emotions and sensations. When you go through life and recall the "facts" of what happened, or experience old triggers that used to cause flashbacks, your brain automatically recalls the new and positive imagery, emotions and sensations with little to no effort. Clients with a "single-event" traumatic memory often see results in a single 2-hour session, clients with multiple or complex traumatic memories often see results within five 1-hour sessions or two 2-hour sessions. Feel free to explore the ART website to learn more.
Brainspotting is a gentle approach to treating both "single-event" and Complex PTSD that also utilizes the eye's relationship to memory reprocessing but instead uses a fixed point in the visual field rather than rapid eye movements. Feel free to explore the Brainspotting website to learn more.
Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy (DNMS)
DNMS is a form of therapy for treating developmental trauma by healing your child parts that are stuck in trauma memory. A sure sign of this is when you feel young or child-like when you feel activated or triggered by a negative event, not functioning from your most adult-self. DNMS helps to find and provide the unmet needs that keep your child part(s) locked in trauma memory and free them to allow you to feel less afraid of your inner world, less self-contempt, more self-esteem, fewer addictive patterns, healthier belief systems, and more. Feel free to explore the DNMS website to learn more.
Individuals, Couples and Families
We all could benefit from therapy time to time. Sometimes we just need someone to sit with us and hear us without wanting to "fix" the problem. Other times we need help finding solutions.
Examples of reasons to come to therapy:
- you want intermittent therapy to help you handle life situations you may not feel prepared for
- you feel you are not connecting when you communicate to your partner or family members
- you are in a difficult life transition
- you feel sad, hopeless, stressed, stuck, powerless
- you are dissatisfied with an aspect of your life
- you want more coping skills
- you're struggling with conforming to your identity or roles
- your new family is not blending as well as you had hoped
Whatever it is, I can be a helping hand on your journey.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy ("ART" Therapy) Certification
Brainspotting Phase One Certification
WIEBGE: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers
Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy (DNMS) 10-hour Certification
*I have experience working with the following*
DID & dissociative disorders
sexual assault & rape
partner betrayal trauma & infidelity
attachment & adoption trauma