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Navigating Narcissism in the Treatment Room with Schema Therapy
withWendy Behary
Recordings of the course available without time limits
Available in Italian (simultaneous translation), English


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Peeking into the complexities of the narcissistic client can arouse our curiosity. Treating them individually or in the context of couple’s work can arouse our sense of inadequacy and frustration.

Maintaining a firm and flexible posture, understanding our own personal triggers along with the narcissist’s makeup – helps us to bypass obstacles when dealing with them, promoting a sturdy stance for (empathically) holding the narcissist accountable. In so doing, we can sustain the necessary leverage for healing, and for lasting change. But how can we summon up the courage, maintain an empathically attuned state of mind, and effectively engage these clients when they’re more likely to defend, deny, demean, devalue, attack, distract, and charm us rather than cooperate with us and comply with treatment?

Exploring the critical content related to early life experience and unmet needs is essential to the formulation of a robust conceptualization and the implementation of treatment but can be a triggering endeavor for many therapists when facing the belligerence, self-righteous entitlement, denial, neurotic victimization, and arrogance, of a narcissistic client.

Treating the narcissistic client – overt and covert – involves meeting early unmet needs such as, unconditional love and acceptance, empathy, and tolerance for frustration and limits. This comes with the challenge of confronting bullying, critical, passive-aggressive, detached, martyrish, and approval-seeking modes.

These clients sometimes default into hypersexual activity such as pornography, cyber-sexual relationships, prostitutes, affairs, or other erotic preoccupation. Intimacy is fractured and the refurbishing of trust is challenging due to the “betrayal trauma” of offended partners and the entitled stance of the narcissist. Healing is possible when leverage is high enough and partners are willing to engage in the treatment process individually and together.

At the heart of schema therapy, we have an approach capable of weakening narcissistic coping modes, and internal demanding critic modes. Adaptive responses replace unhelpful ones as schemas heal. Using effective strategies grounded in emotional engagement and the therapy relationship, therapists are poised to correct the biased early emotional experiences typically linked with high demands for extraordinary performance, confusing messages of over-indulgence alongside inferiority and insecure attachments, devalued emotional experiences, and poor limit setting.

What will you learn?

Participants will learn to:
  • Conceptualize the evolution and construction of typical attitudes of the narcissist.
  • Apply different strategies to your clinical practice, including various adaptations of the technique of empathetic confrontation, typical of Schema Therapy.
  • Strengthen the bond with the client within the therapeutic relationship.
  • Addressing the narcissistic client's compensatory and detached fashions, which cause him to rigidly rationalize and disdainfully deny patterns associated with devaluation of self and others.
  • Create personalized dialogues aimed at “making one's voice heard” and creating new opportunities to access the client's vulnerability and emotions.
  • Pay attention to activating your own patterns and fads; various strategies will be illustrated to help therapists remain assertive, curious, and empathically attuned caregivers.
  • Integrate effective experiential strategies – designed to meet frustrated core needs related to shame, mistrust, injustice, and unconditional love/acceptance – within one's clinical practice.
  • Managing the needs of the partner within the relationship with the narcissist, burdened by the challenges posed by narcissism.

About the Speaker

Read the Speaker’s biography

Wendy Behary
Wendy Behary. With over 25 years post-graduate training and advanced level certifications, Wendy Behary is the founder and director of The Cognitive Therapy Center of New Jersey and co-director (with Dr. Jeffrey Young) of The New Jersey-New York City Schema Therapy Institutes. She has been treating clients, training professionals and supervising psychotherapists for more than 20 years. Wendy was on the faculty of the Cognitive Therapy Center and Schema Therapy Institute of New York (until merging in 2012 with the NJ Institute), where she trained and worked with Dr. Jeffrey Young since 1989. She is a Founding Fellow and consulting supervisor for The Academy of Cognitive Therapy (Aaron T. Beck Institute). Wendy served as the President of the Executive Board of the International Society of Schema Therapy (ISST) from 2010-2014, and is currently the chairperson for the Schema Therapy Development Programs Committee of the ISST. Wendy Behary has co-authored several chapters and articles on Schema Therapy and Cognitive Therapy. She is the author of “Disarming the Narcissist…” (New Harbinger, 2013) translated in 10 languages, whose third edition was released on October 1st, 2021. Wendy has a specialty in treating narcissists and the people who live with and deal with them. As an author and an expert on the subject of narcissism, she is a contributing chapter author of several chapters on schema therapy for narcissism for professional readers. She lectures both nationally and internationally to professional and general audiences on schema therapy, and the subject of narcissism, relationships, anger, and dealing with difficult people. Her work with industry has included speaking engagements focused on interpersonal conflict resolution. Her private practice is primarily devoted to treating narcissists, partners/people dealing with them, parenting issues, and couples experiencing relationship problems. She is also an expert in coaching individuals in interviewing, public speaking, and interpersonal skills enhancement.


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