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Therapists Who Are Narcissistic

Updated on November 18, 2015

My Therapist the Narcissist

Ideally, a therapist is a well-balanced person who wants to help others.

In reality, though, this may not be the case. This practitioner is a human being, who travels with his or her own set of baggage. All of us are flawed creatures. This includes people with formal training in psychology.

However, with a good therapist, their particular emotional luggage may be light enough, so that it doesn't get in the way of assisting the people who come to see them.

These practitioners are happy with themselves, and they desire the betterment of their clients. They are pleased when someone makes progress, with the eventual goal of ending the sessions, or at least reducing their frequency.

Although therapists, just like the rest of us, have bills to pay and expect to be compensated, making money is not the only reason they're in business. A good therapist truly wants to help the people in their care become happier and better able to weather the blows of life.


Therapists with Malicious Motivations

Unfortunately, not all therapists are like the ones I just described. Some are more focused on money, to the point that it colors their conversations and makes them extremely anxious if they detect potential trouble with payments.

There's also another, far more sinister, motivation for being a therapist. The job gives them near-total power over vulnerable people. If the therapist is a narcissist, and has a malicious streak, they have endless opportunities to exploit.

In the worst case scenario, you could potentially find a therapist driven both by money, and the desire to destroy someone in need of healing.

So, if you decide to seek professional help, in an effort to put your life back together, after it's been shredded by a malignant narcissist, chose your therapist with care.

Some therapists have personality disorders.
Some therapists have personality disorders. | Source

My "Qualifications" as a "Narcologist"

I'm not a licensed therapist, and I have no formal training in the field, except for a couple of college-level courses. However, I do have a personal interest in malignant narcissism, since I spent a few years "studying" this disorder online, after an experience with a very treacherous female "friend."

This, combined with some earlier experiences, opened my eyes to the horrifying reality that a small, but significant, minority of the population likes to harm others. However, they usually appear pretty normal. That's because they've learned to blend in, in order to disguise the fact they have no conscience. So they're able to commit the most atrocious acts without feeling badly about what they did.

These high-functioning sociopaths are found in all walks of life. They are teachers, doctors, bank executives, car mechanics and that pretty young mom who drives her children around in an SUV. Of course, this group includes psychologists and other mental health professionals.

In this case, forewarned is forearmed. If you know there's a real possibility a potential therapist could be a narcissist, you'll be alert to any red flags. If you see enough of these signals, and they make you uncomfortable, it's time to sever the relationship.

Narcissistic Mental Health Counselors

Don't be blinded by the degree, or the charm or charisma a potential therapist may possess.

As you're probably all too aware, at this point, people with personality disorders often dazzle you at first. However, ,as you get to know them, their carefully constructed mask will slip. This happens more and more over time, until all you see is the disappointing reality of their true personality.

When choosing a therapist, keep this thought uppermost in your mind. Don't forget that people who've obtained degrees, which allow them to counsel others, can also be quite needy. However, a therapist shouldn't put his or her needs above yours. If that's not the case, something's wrong.

Recognizing that a therapist can suffer from human frailties allows us to take a critical look at the client/therapist relationship, in order to decide if this is the right person to help us.

We can also make the choice whether or not to seek therapy in the first place. In my case, I decided against therapy, for a number of reasons. One was that I didn't want to risk bearing my soul to a potential narcissist.

However, please understand I'm not recommending others follow my example. Please read my disclaimer at the end of this article.

Mental health professionals with narcissism.
Mental health professionals with narcissism. | Source

Troubled Therapists

Did you know that therapists can also have personality disorders?

See results

Red Flags When Choosing a Therapist

Just knowing the potential exists for a therapist to have severe personality issues gives you a distinct advantage. You will approach the relationship cautiously, and you'll know if and when to beat a hasty retreat.

Here are some tips that a potential therapist may have too many issues of their own, which can get in the way of your recovery. While I'm not suggesting you "diagnose" your therapist, there are some things to look for, which include:

  • Excessive talk about money. How you will pay for these sessions should clearly be discussed. Your therapist should also let you know if your insurance covers your sessions and how many sessions are covered by your particular health plan. If coverage is running out, this should also be brought to your attention. However, there shouldn't be any undue focus on payments. Any anxiety about payments, on the part of the therapist, should not be ignored.
  • Flamboyant dress and mannerisms. Look for long, manicured fingernails, coupled with edgy and possibly revealing clothing. Although these details, in and of themselves, should not indict anyone, they are part of a bigger picture. Is your therapist down to earth, and focused on helping you resolve your problems? Or is she more focused on meeting her own needs during your sessions?
  • Excessive talk about herself. It's fine for a therapist to talk about herself a little, and to reveal small details about her personal life, such as the ages of her children. But there's a fine line that shouldn't be crossed. This means a therapist shouldn't be discussing her own problems at length. Nor should she do most of the talking. Be especially wary if her conversations steer toward self aggrandizement. Narcissists love an audience, and they love to boast of their accomplishments.
  • Inappropriate anger. A therapist may be direct and challenge you, but never should she become enraged and lash out at you. This is a terrible sign, and one that needs to be taken seriously.
  • A distracted therapist. Unless it's a dire emergency, a therapist should not take personal phone calls or answer text messages during your sessions. Nor should she "tire" of listening to you, or glance around the room as if her mind is elsewhere.

Protecting yourself from narcissistic therapists.
Protecting yourself from narcissistic therapists. | Source

Finding the Right Therapist for You

Dr. Kristen Hick, PsyD, whom you can see in the video below, offers some very good advice on choosing a therapist. She tells us a number of things to look for, which include location, personality factors, qualifications and "theoretical orientation, which means the particular method he or she uses to help you reach your goals.

However, her first recommendation is the one that's most applicable, and, undoubtedly, the most important. She says to go with your gut feeling over whether this relationship is a good match. If you don't get a clear sense that it is, by at least the third session, she suggests finding another therapist.

Pick a Good Therapist

I believe that most mental health professionals truly want to help their fellow human beings. However, the possibility that some therapists are seriously disturbed is a well-known industry secret. Malignant narcissists are dangerous in all circumstances. But this is especially true when they have credentials to hide behind.

In order to protect yourself, in most cases, you don't need to disclose information that would allow your therapist to contact the person who abused you. Although this is a very, very remote possibility, it's certainly a horrifying one. To someone who's never experienced narcissistic abuse, I must sound paranoid. Survivors will understand.

Disclaimer

I am not advocating that everyone attempt to recover from narcissistic abuse on their own. Someone who is severely depressed or unable to function should seek professional help. Anyone affected by suicidal thoughts needs to seek help immediately.

Also, I want to stress again that I'm not a professionally trained therapist. So this article is written as an information and discussion piece, and should not be read as if I'm giving advice.

Disclosure

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

    This hub should be very useful for someone seeking a therapist. The development of a good relationship between a therapist and a client is vitally important. You've shared some helpful advice in this article.

  • ologsinquito profile image
    Author

    ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

    Hi Alicia, I wrote it after someone commented on another article, about having a narcissistic therapist. How horrible. Thanks so much for reading.

  • macteacher profile image

    Wendy Golden 2 years ago from New York

    An ex was getting her Master's Degree while we were together. She is now a certified LCSW, someone credentialed to counsel vulnerable people. I can only pray for the innocent people she gets her claws on. Our relationship ended because of her malignant narcissism. She's nuts! So you are absolutely correct. There are therapists out there who can do more harm than good. Thanks for an important hub. Voted up!

  • ologsinquito profile image
    Author

    ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

    Hi macteacher, this is horrifying. I also once knew the mother of one of my daughter's friends, who is also a therapist. Since she has some serious issues of her own, she has the potential to do great harm as well. I am concerned for the innocent and vulnerable people she gets to "treat" as well.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

    This made me really think about life coaches, as anyone can set themselves up as one. Many people offer counseling services or "therapies" and not all of them are rigorously professionally trained or have worked out their own personal demons. A good psychotherapist has him or herself undergone therapy to work out any personal baggage they may be carrying. While it's my experience that most psychologists are fairly well-adjusted and self-aware, I have personally known one or two that are way off the charts.

  • ologsinquito profile image
    Author

    ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

    Flourish, that's an excellent point. Thank you so much for raising it. I've wondered about this myself, as anyone can offer these services. I've seen some advertisements that have made me a bit nervous. This is really a buyer beware situation. At least the therapist does have to have therapy himself or herself, which is not the case with these coaches setting up shop.

  • profile image

    Eveline 2 years ago

    Thank-you so much for writing this piece. I am (most likely) that person who commented on one of your other pieces... the one who discovered my therapist was a narcissist. All I can say is thanks for writing this! I'm going to start a blog of my own, as well as my own advocacy work around this issue. I appreciate your getting the discussion flowing.

  • ologsinquito profile image
    Author

    ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

    Hi Eveline, I believe you are in a position to help many others. Best of luck with your blog. I can't wait to read it.

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    A very useful hub and informative on unique topic.

  • ologsinquito profile image
    Author

    ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

    Thanks so much DDE. I wrote it just in case others were in need of this info.

  • Susan Trump profile image

    Susan Trump 2 years ago from San Diego, California

    I'm passing this on to a friend. So helpful.

  • ologsinquito profile image
    Author

    ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

    Glad to help. Thanks so much for reading.

  • savvydating profile image

    savvydating 2 years ago

    Yikes! An abusive/narcissistic counselor is right up there in the top twenty things to avoid at all costs. Just thinking about the damage such a "professional" can do makes my hair stand on end.

    My son had a roommate who was bipolar and she was studying to become a psychiatrist. That alone is bad enough. Another good warning you've given us here. Voting up.

  • ologsinquito profile image
    Author

    ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

    Hi savvydating, thanks so much for reading. People who've been emotionally abused need to be extremely cautious going forward. Encountering a series of abusers will wear you down for sure.

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