Adult Children of Narcissistic Families
You may find yourself on my page because you've experienced some bad therapy in the quest to heal from your childhood. Many therapists are not trained or equipped to help you through recovery from narcissistic and abusive parents. Many therapists may minimize your experience ("they did the best they could"), play devil's advocate, encourage premature/inauthentic forgiveness and reconciliation, amongst many other damaging behaviors and suggestions. Due to religious undercurrents of many cultures and societies, people, including therapists, can be incredibly protective of parents, needing to see parents in a light of purity and sainthood and refuse to accept the shadow side of harmful, selfish parents. I understand this experience and hope to provide you with some validation that what you've experienced is real.
Narcissistic families come in two forms: overt and covert.
Overtly dysfunctional family dynamics can be easy for the children to identify. Example of overt dysfunction include drug use, physical abuse, verbal abuse (such as yelling), sexual abuse and incest, abandonment, 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 experiences. Maybe you remember being your parent's confidant, knowing things a child shouldn't know. Maybe you don't remember your parents ever asking how you feel or what you need. Maybe you remember feeling always at fault for situations, or called "difficult" numerous times. Maybe you remember spending hours and hours alone entertaining yourself.
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. As children we were given too much responsibility, blamed for situations or actions of others, frequently criticized, punished, minimized, ignored, left alone, escaping into a fantasy world to cope, or looking towards other families or peers to fill a void.
As adults, you may:
- focus on pleasing others
- find yourself frequently apologizing
- find it difficult to put your needs first
- fear focusing on yourself, believing this to be selfish
- have difficulty experiencing anger
- find it difficult to assert boundaries
- have trouble holding others' accountable for their behavior
- feel defective and inadequate, guilty or shameful
- fear being abandoned
- experience a ruthless inner critic
- have difficulty speaking up around others
- lose sense of time, space or yourself in day-to-day living
- experience negative body image, often fixating on specific parts of your body you wish to change
What does recovery look like? When I think of recovery from narcissistic parents I envision a Phoenix rising from the ashes
1. Putting out the "fire" that has killed your soul and identity
Identifying and mapping your experiences and how this has led to your conditioning
2. Removing the smoldering ashes
Unlearning your conditioning and patterns, processing the fear and hesitation, the shame that keeps us stuck
3. Rising as the Phoenix
Finding your authentic self - the person who has always been there, lying dormant, waiting to be released
Our primary drive as humans is connection, and doing this work of building separation and boundaries, so you can better connect to yourself and others, can feel stressful, counterintuitive, selfish and maybe even scary, and I commend you for taking the risk to trust the process of recovering from narcissistic abuse.
For those who are fearful of becoming a parent like their own, or want to learn how to create healthy attachment with their children, or fear their own narcissistic tendencies may hurt their children:
I provide therapy for soon-to-be parents, new parents and current parents who want support in building or strengthening a secure attachment with their children to prevent the repetition of family patterns.
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