Hypnotherapy for narcissistic abuse

When writing about how hypnotherapy can help victims of narcissistic abuse, I should explain at the outset what I mean by narcissistic abuse. Many people have been affected by this type of abuse, which can often last for years or even decades and can be difficult to start to unpick. 


I now have a Facebook support group for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse and offer free advice for people unable to see a therapist. 

What is narcissistic abuse?

Narcissistic abuse is predominantly psychological and emotional abuse and is often characterised by attempts to isolate the target from their support network, using phrases calculated to play on their emotions and using tools such as guilt trips and gaslighting to get them to do what they want. Financial abuse is also a common feature of this kind of abuse.

This type of abuse is often seen within relationships, whether these are romantic, platonic or familial in nature and it can be really hard to detect it when it is ongoing. The closer you are to it, the harder it is to see what is happening sometimes. It is something that affects people from all walks of life, spans the gender, age and socio-economic spectrums, and often affects people of high intelligence.

The abuse often begins slowly with little things and slowly builds up, in a way that is hard to detect. It is like if you were to place a frog in a pot of boiling water they would hop straight out, but if you slowly turned up the heat, they would barely notice, until it was too late to escape.

The harm caused by narcissistic abuse

The harm caused by narcissistic abuse can devastate people’s lives and it can be incredibly hard to pick up the pieces in the aftermath. I really feel for people who are going through this and seeing how much they have been hurt by it makes me want to help as much as I can. 

People can feel trapped in either hypervigilance or freeze mode, a kind of permanent fight or flight response, which can be exhausting and debilitating for the individual. The effects of the abuse can go on for a long time after the actual abuse has ended and can have long-term effects on people's lives. 

Some clients have come to see me up to ten years after the abuser left and they are still dealing with PTSD and flashbacks relating to that time of their lives. In many instances, they became so wrapped up in the web of deceit that was woven around them that they had to struggle to regain a sense of their own identity.

Hypnotherapy for narcissistic abuse

One of the most important things to remember about hypnotherapy is that it is, at its heart, a therapeutic treatment, where you are able to talk in a safe and caring environment about the problems you have experienced and the effect they have had on your life.

There are a number of ways to use hypnotherapy to treat people affected by narcissistic abuse but the one I use is a form of Gestalt Therapy called “The empty chair”. This technique allows my patient to “tell the other person” what they would like to say to them, while safely under hypnosis and it will often have quite a profound unburdening effect which allows for a feeling of closure. 

This can break the cycle of feeling stuck in a loop and being unable to move on from mentally replaying the trauma. It can almost be like unblocking a dammed river and the emotions that come to the fore can surprise people and release the pent-up hurt, anger and sadness that has been held back. 

This can then allow us to move on to begin to treat some of the other symptoms they have been experiencing such as anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, and PTSD. I teach grounding techniques and self-hypnosis so that people can take away skills with them that they can use to help them in their lives going forward, even after our sessions together have ended. 

Next steps

Narcissistic abuse is very real and devastating for the individual and those who care about them. It sometimes leads to whole families ending up in therapy to deal with the trauma, particularly if the person with the narcissistic personality is a close family member. 

Victims of this type of abuse will often have to try to repair relationships with family and friends after the abuser has moved on because they will have deliberately spread rumours or otherwise sought to harm the victim's interpersonal relationships with others around them, this is the smear campaign and can be a very hard thing to deal with. 

It can also feel very difficult and even embarrassing to admit to having been a victim of this type of abuse, as it is something that is usually very much behind closed doors and many people have a fear that they won't be believed. This is because one of the features of narcissistic personalities is that they can often be perfectly charming outwardly to those who aren’t on the receiving end of the abuse.

I would encourage anyone who has experienced this kind of abuse to talk to a therapist but first to make sure that they have a good understanding of what narcissistic abuse is and the seriousness of the problems that it poses for people, even many years down the line. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
London W1G & Bristol BS9
Written by Claire Edwards, @Claire Edwards Hypnotherapy | Empowering Mental Wellness
London W1G & Bristol BS9

Claire Edwards
Clinical Hypnotherapist.
Claire runs a busy Hypnotherapy practice in Bristol and online.

Show comments

Find a hypnotherapist dealing with Low self-esteem

All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals