If you’re a victim of narcissistic abuse, you just landed in the right place. I empathize with the emotional roller-coaster, heartache, and stress caused by a relationship with a narcissist. I also know that recovering from narcissistic abuse requires emotional support, self-care, self-reflection, and education about the dynamics of unhealthy relationships. Thus, this article explores alternatives to therapy for narcissistic abuse, as sometimes victims might acknowledge their pain but suffer from denial and inaction.
On top of that, therapy for narcissistic abuse can be very expensive. An average session costs anything from $ 60 to $ 120. Considering someone needs multiple sessions for recovery, traditional therapy becomes a prohibitively expensive choice for many who need help healing from narcissistic abuse. Fortunately, there are several affordable alternatives available that similarly offer benefits without requiring a fortune.
This article also highlights some key things you can do to initiate your narcissistic abuse recovery journey. We will also discuss how each option can help you heal emotionally while providing helpful resources to move forward with your life and having your mental health thrive after leaving a traumatic relationship behind you.
What is Narcissistic Abuse?
Narcissistic abuse is a form of emotional abuse that can leave long-lasting emotional and psychological scars. It is often difficult to recognize, as it can be subtle or even covert. Often a result of being in a narcissistic relationship, the victims may feel confused and isolated, leading them to believe they are “crazy” or “too sensitive” for not understanding why their relationship with the abuser has become so toxic. This negatively affects the victim’s everyday life, filling them with self-doubt and low self-esteem and rapidly depreciating their mental health.
People with narcissistic personality disorder are not always part of abusive relationships; however, the existence of the concept of a narcissistic relationship is a sign that issue is persistent and needs to be addressed. It may be tough to recognize if you are experiencing narcissistic abuse initially; however, we discuss some symptoms and narcissistic tendencies that may help you examine your relationships with others.
Related: Reactive Abuse & Narcissism: What Is It & How To Deal With It
What Does It Mean to Be a Victim of NPD (Narcissistic personality disorder)?
Personality disorders are a way of classifying a person’s psyche depending on their actions. A person with a narcissistic personality disorder would often think of themselves as superior to others, be it their family or significant others.
Being a victim of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) means experiencing verbal and emotional abuse from someone. This emotional abuse can make you feel confused, isolated, and like you are going crazy. It is important to recognize the signs of this type of relationship so that you can take steps to protect yourself and recover from the emotional pain it causes.
To recognize if you are a victim of narcissistic abuse or not, I have explained and simplified some key and recurring signs of a narcissistic relationship below. If these narcissistic traits are interfering with your life on n a regular basis, then you should seek help via the alternatives in this article or through traditional therapy.
Gaslighting is a sinister emotional manipulation tactic employed by narcissists to maintain control over their victims. It involves the emotional abuser subtly and systematically convincing their victim that they are wrong, confused, or crazy. This can be done through lies and distorted reality, making it difficult for the victim to trust their thoughts, opinions, memories, or experiences.
They will often use gaslighting as an excuse for the emotional abuse they are inflicting on the victim and portray themselves as victims instead of perpetrators.
Over time, this emotional manipulation will cause the victim to doubt even their most basic senses and lose faith in their ability to make decisions.
Related: Am I Being Gaslighted Quiz: The Best Free Quiz To Find Out
This is a tactic used by emotional abusers to gain control and manipulate the victim into submission. It involves showering the victim with excessive attention, compliments, and promises of a future together. This emotional manipulation aims to make the victim feel special and needed, thus making it more difficult for them to leave the abuser.
If you have previously set boundaries in a narcissistic relationship, expect these to be broken repeatedly. Frequent violation of firm boundaries indicates that the person with the narcissistic personality disorder does not care about you but wants you to follow his controlling behavior.
Being Picky And Judgemental:
If you are being made to feel like anything you do isn’t right, more often than not, it means the other person is picky and judgemental. This narcissistic trait often manifests in toxic relationships, not just narcissistic ones.
When narcissists are projecting, they are misplacing their feelings onto the other person. Projection is used as a defense to mislead and confuse their victims and make them question their own experiences or memories. For example, narcissists might accuse their partners of being frustrated without any valid reason when they have been doing so. Projecting can damage an emotional abuse survivor’s sense of self-worth.
These symptoms can manifest in accusations, reactive abuse, fights, emotional blackmail, name-calling, withholding, passive aggression, silent treatment, and sabotaging. All of these combine to form a traumatic relationship that requires dealing with therapy or alternatives that help you heal.
Related: The Narcissist Prayer: How To Dive Into the Narcissistic Soul
What Therapy is Used For Narcissistic Abuse?
Therapy for narcissistic abuse focuses on addressing emotional trauma and providing coping mechanisms to help survivors navigate their trauma recovery.
The primary goal of therapy for narcissistic abuse is to create an environment where the survivor can feel safe and comfortable and provide them with a secure therapeutic relationship that can help them identify and explore underlying issues related to their verbal and emotional abuse.
The type of therapy used in narcissistic abuse treatment may vary depending on each individual’s needs and history. Common approaches include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), psychodynamic psychotherapy, humanistic psychotherapy, solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and more.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is particularly effective in treating narcissistic abuse because it helps survivors identify maladaptive behaviors, challenge negative thought patterns, develop healthier coping strategies, improve communication skills, and practice self-compassion, which eventually leads to a strong sense of self-importance, self-love, and boundary-setting.
Dialectical behavior therapy typically involves teaching the survivor how to manage emotional regulation and foster positive relationships between themselves. At the same time, psychodynamic psychotherapy focuses on uncovering unconscious thoughts or motivations that may have contributed to the development of maladaptive behaviors.
Humanistic psychotherapy may also help as it seeks to restore an individual’s sense of worth by helping them recognize their potential while building trust in themselves and others around them.
Solution-focused brief therapy concentrates on identifying solutions rather than dwelling on problems. Acceptance & Commitment Therapy helps people take responsibility for their emotions without judgment to live a more meaningful life full of purpose.
These can be helpful; however, when seeking professional help, only the therapist can decide which course to take with you after a diagnosis. In severe physical abuse, self-harm, sexual abuse, or domestic violence, the therapist may tend to go for a more rigorous approach.
Related: Why Do I Attract Narcissists? 7 Main Reasons & How to Stop it
How Do you Help Someone Recover From Narcissistic Abuse?
The first step in helping someone recover from narcissistic abuse is to provide emotional support. This can mean actively listening to their story and validating their feelings, such as anger, fear, and sadness. It is also essential to be patient and non-judgmental. Let them know that they are not alone and that you are here to support them.
Another way to help someone recover from narcissistic abuse is to provide emotional education and tools to help them manage their emotions and practice self-compassion. This could include teaching them about emotional regulation, journaling their feelings, helping them create emotional boundaries, and encouraging them to take healthy risks.
This includes pointing the victim to the right person, be it a family member, professional help, or someone from the outside world who can help them heal from an abusive relationship. You can provide an escape route from their narcissistic partner during tough times.
You can also point them toward the right path of self-protection, which may or may not involve trying to talk to the narcissist partner. The victim may have to eventually end things with their romantic partner based on their abusive behavior, strong narcissistic traits, and the constant state of panic and self-doubt the victim lives in.
Additionally, if they do not want to seek therapy for the psychological abuse they faced in their toxic relationship, you can point them toward the five alternatives explained below.
Related: The 45 Top Manifestation Affirmations to Attract Abundance & Love
The first factor of success in the healing process: Acceptance
You cannot heal from experiencing narcissistic abuse from a narcissistic parent or a narcissistic partner without accepting that it happened. Hiding from the truth will not help, and accepting that you’re being abused is the first step toward healing.
Verbal, emotional, psychological, and physical abuse are all part of a toxic relationship. You must recognize these along with all the signs explored above, as without acceptance, you will not be able to proceed on a recovery journey. If you accept that you faced narcissistic abuse in the past or are facing it currently, then there are straightforward ways of dealing with it.
One is therapy; however, if you can’t afford it or do not feel like exploring that option for any given reason, then explore some of our alternatives below.
The Five Best Affordable Alternatives for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery:
1) Go no-contact (including the things that remind you of the pain)
Start by establishing firm boundaries with no contact with the abusive partner. These boundaries go both ways, and you should not break them. Getting rid of all the things that remind you of your abuse must also perish, as this will free up your mental space for some reflection. If it is a parent relationship (family) that you cannot go “no-contact” for long, then you must learn to keep a safe distance. This will give them and you a chance to rethink the abusive relationship.
2) Join emotional support groups
A support group can also be an invaluable resource for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Meeting with fellow survivors helps connect victims to others who genuinely understand what they are going through, providing emotional validation and comfort that is difficult to find elsewhere. What’s more, many peer support groups are free or low-cost.
3) Journal your feelings, thoughts, and beliefs
Write down your thoughts and feelings, no matter how irrational or emotional. Scripting can help you identify patterns in your emotional states and the behaviors of those around you. Journaling is often used by therapists as a tool for emotional exploration while also serving as a way to reflect on healing progress over time.
4) Turn to non-judgmental loved ones that validate your self-esteem
Connecting with people who accept and validate you is part of the emotional healing process. Being fortunate enough to have these people in your life can be very useful for emotional recovery. These people can provide unconditional love and understanding in a safe space without judgment or criticism.
5) Understand whether there is a pattern of narcissistic relationships
If you find yourself in a variety of emotional relationships as the victim, there may be something deeper going on. Take some time to explore what keeps happening and why. You can do this through journaling or talk therapy, but knowing if there is an emotional pattern to break is essential. This does not mean that you are in the wrong; it is just some choices that may be causing some chaos. With time and experience, you can break that cycle.
- Trapped in a Narcissistic Relationship Pattern? The 7 Awful Signs
- Why Do I Attract Narcissists? 7 Main Reasons & How to Stop it
Can Online Therapy Be Replaced?
Online counseling services provide a safe platform for victims to receive professional guidance from certified therapists or counselors. Through web-based video conferencing, secure messaging, and other tools, these services enable clients to access quality therapy in the comfort of their homes without worrying about privacy concerns. Online therapy is often far less expensive than traditional in-person therapy, making it an excellent option for those looking for emotional support without requiring a fortune per session.
Furthermore, the anonymity of online therapy allows emotional abuse survivors to speak freely and honestly about their experiences without fear of judgment or stigma.
Ultimately, everyone has different needs regarding emotional support and healing, and you can start the healing process with our alternatives. However, they are called “alternatives” because that is what they are, alternatives to in-person or online therapy. They might not be as effective as online or in-person therapy, but for some people, they can work just as well.
No one should ever have to suffer emotional abuse in silence. If you are recovering from narcissistic abuse, know that emotional healing is possible. With the proper emotional support and a willingness to take the necessary steps, you can recover and move on with your life.
Remember: emotional recovery isn’t about being happy constantly—it’s about learning to forgive yourself, accepting your mistakes, and growing from them. It’s about celebrating the small victories, no matter how big or small they may be. And it’s about believing that emotional healing is possible—and that you can achieve it.