Hypnotherapy to reclaim your life after narcissistic abuse
The information in this article is not universal, and everyone experiences trauma differently; the prolonged effect of psychological trauma can leave a person in pieces. It is a large misconception that once the sources of the narcissistic abuse have stopped then the overall effects of the trauma stops. There are numerous effects from the trauma that may have brought you to looking at hypnotherapy as a treatment for narcissistic abuse. People usually experience a wide variety of symptoms from the trauma, such as anxiety, low mood, constant worry, and the questioning of one's sanity that is usually as a result of gaslighting. These are a few of the experiences you may be experiencing from the effects of the trauma you have had to endure. These are some of the effects that can occur when being exposed to the level of trauma from someone that has narcissistic traits or even a narcissistic personality disorder.
The exposure to this level of trauma is on par with the explosion from an atomic bomb. The initial blast is catastrophic, but the after-effects can be worse on a person's psyche. This is the nature of narcissistic abuse. The corrosive effects of the trauma eat away at a person’s sense of self. More than likely you may have some insight into the effects of this already.
You may have noticed the effects that the trauma has had on your relationships with people. You may have noticed that there is a tendency to go into a repetitive cycle of relationship development where your relationships may be similar to the abusive relationship you were in before. Once the trauma has occurred, it can leave the person’s sense of self fractured, which in turn leaves the person in a state of psychological limbo. The person affected can feel they want to cling onto the familiar; this is usually a side effect that the trauma has on a person's sense of self-worth.
Hypnotherapy, especially when combined with talking therapy, can start to heal the corrosive effects of narcissistic abuse and help you try and rebuild your life. Hypnotherapy can help by tapping into your unconscious resources and show you how to focus this in a constructive way instead of a self-destructive way. Hypnotherapy, and talking therapy, can also address the various feelings of shame that may have developed from the trauma. You may be experiencing various thoughts, such as;
- How could I have let this happen?
- How could I have been so stupid?
- Why did I let this continue?
By working with a hypnotherapist, you can work through these thinking patterns and change them. More importantly, you can change the beliefs that power them, as these beliefs may have developed from the abuser. Or, it could even be inherited trauma. Inherited trauma is trauma that is passed along the family. For example, you may have seen a parent or caregiver develop similar relationship patterns in their life due to their psychological issues, and this has been passed down to you. Hypnotherapists will usually use cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy as a way to work with these thoughts and beliefs and/or ego/parts therapy. Working with a hypnotherapist can also help you reconnect with the strong resources you have always had and show you how to use these. Working with a therapist can help you realise that you were strong and resilient from the beginning, as you would not have survived the trauma.
Due to the nature of this type of trauma, this can have a massive effect on boundaries. This is an area that would be heavily addressed in therapy, as due to the toxic effect of this type of trauma it can have a catastrophic impact on people's boundaries. Your therapist will use a multitude of different types of hypnotherapy and techniques to help work with these boundaries. Abusers with narcissistic traits have no respect for boundaries and are experts in making the people that they are close to question their boundaries. In worst-case scenarios, a person's boundaries are destroyed. This then makes it difficult for the person that has endured this level of abuse to develop positive psychological resources and improve psychological resilience, as boundaries don't just keep things out - they also allow for these positive psychological resources in people to develop and grow, as it is hard to tend to a garden if the boundaries can't keep out the pests ruining all your hard work. You will find that, by working with a hypnotherapist, these boundaries will become stronger, and once the trauma has been processed can strengthen your overall psychological resilience.
In some cases of narcissistic abuse, people can experience symptoms of PTSD and complex PTSD. A hypnotherapist, unless they are a psychiatrist, would not be able to diagnose this, and if you feel you are experiencing any symptoms of PTSD then please speak with your GP. However, if you have a diagnosis from your most recent experiences, a hypnotherapist can help with specific symptoms related to the trauma, such as flashbacks and nightmares. The hypnotherapist will always strive to make sure that you feel safe and will have an assortment of therapy strategies to work with your trauma, such as cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy, ego state/parts therapy, Ericksonian hypnotherapy, eye movement desensitisation repossessing (EMDR), and many others. Providing a safe space for you is the primary concern of the hypnotherapist.
Working with your hypnotherapist, you can work with other feelings that may have developed from this type of trauma, such as a pervasive feeling of mistrust. This usually manifests itself as an inability to trust everyone around you and questioning people's motives and intentions. This comes from placing belief in someone you loved and cared for and then having it misused and twisted. Hypnotherapists work with this by using cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy as well as other methods that may be useful. Some of these could be emotional freedom therapy (EFT), or EMDR to name a few.
Sometimes there can be self-harming tendencies and feelings of wanting to complete suicide. This comes from the increased sense of hopelessness that the person experiences due to the situation created by the narcissist, where the person, experiencing this, feels that there is no escape from their current circumstances and the situation has reached a point of being unbearable. If you are reading this and you have feelings of wanting to complete suicide, please see your GP immediately or attend emergency services to get the support that you need. Self-harming can develop as a way to cope with the intense emotional strain that is caused by the abuser. A hypnotherapist can help with trying to work with the underlying feelings of hopelessness that have been caused by the situation and look at ways for you to self-soothe so that self-harm may not be needed in the future to cope with emotions. This is done by using many different methods of hypnotherapy and other psychological interventions that your therapist will go through with you.
You may have found that there is an increased need for isolation. Whilst this is usually created by the abuser, the person that has experienced the abuse can isolate themselves due to feeling ashamed. This can be due to the misconception that is powered by victim-blaming. A person that has experienced narcissistic abuse can run the risk of being re-traumatised by law enforcement, family members, and even the social network that has been created when with the abuser, as they may only see what the abuser wants them to see. These, again, are areas that can be addressed by using hypnotherapy, and when working through the trauma with the therapist you can address this isolation and the re-traumatisation that has occurred.
Unfortunately, working with this issue is not a one-session approach, nor is it something that can be treated in a couple of sessions. If you are considering having therapy to work with these issues, please be prepared for the length of time required. If the expectation is there that the problem will be solved quickly, then this can lead to you feeling disappointed, which can lead to dropping out of therapy which would cause more harm than good. If you find that you are having these feelings, discuss them with your therapist and explore them.
I hope this has helped anyone considering having therapy for narcissistic abuse.