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How to Engage a Narcissist in Therapy

Expert Wendy Behary Says Staying in the Moment is Key


Underneath it all, the narcissist is skeptical and frightened.

That’s the first thing to remember, according to Wendy Behary, recognized expert in treating narcissistic men. Second, is to use the consulting room as a microcosm of the wider world. Third, is to stay in the moment, and in this quick video clip she demonstrates how to engage the narcissist without enabling him.

It’s a brilliant exposition by a leading expert in one of the toughest areas of our work.

Click on the video frame below to watch and let us know what you think.

Wendy Behary is the founder and director of The Cognitive Therapy Center of New Jersey and of The New Jersey Institute for Schema Therapy, and the author of Disarming the Narcissist. Wendy joins Clifton Mitchell, Dick Schwartz, Janina Fisher, William Doherty, and John Norcross for the re-release of our popular streaming-video webcast series:

Tough Customers:
Treating Clients with Challenging Issues

Watch All 6 Sessions When It’s
Best For You–On Demand, Any Time, Anywhere
Available for Purchase Until Midnight, March 4th
Click here for full course details.

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7 Responses to How to Engage a Narcissist in Therapy

  1. meggarrido says:

    Beautiful process work! This is a great reminder to me to come back to the feel of the moment in the room before jumping to teaching coping skills. The few minutes of video communicated so much. Thank you.

  2. Karen says:

    I love Wendy Behary’s work. Tough work with an overt narcissist. Problem is with a covert narcissist. They are pretty much untreatable.

  3. Nuria says:

    Wonderful video clip, reminds me of the importance of the therapeutic relationship as the main tool for transformation.

  4. Dale Blumen says:

    Once again, when I try to watch the video a message says it’s unavailable.

  5. I’m not impressed. There’s nothing wrong with what she said. It might happen 30 minutes later after the opening rapport building interaction. But first it is very important to make the person feel you are understanding where they are coming from. She immediately jumps into where SHE is coming from. I would not recomnend that. I teach people to focus on the other first.

  6. Alex says:

    Wendy Behary suggestion to stay in the moment is key. Mind you, that is essential to good therapy with any client. If a narcissist shows up for help – you actually have a human being showing up for help. The human being called “narcissist” is in a world of hurt … and the wounded heart will do whatever it can to avoid further pain. What is “untreatable” about that, Karen?
    Taken longitudinally, a therapist’s involvement in the client’s life is only a tiny, tiny sliver of time. It is compassion, not cleverness, that counts.

  7. Susanne says:

    I think Wendy has an interesting way of engaging the client immediately. Even though it seems rather confrontational, she seems to couch her comments in such a way as to be less stinging, but I wonder how many people come back for a second dose of this. I wonder how she feels about trying to understand the situation from the client’s perspective to begin to create some rapport and empathy before attacking his personality style.

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