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7 Ways that Coaching can help Narcissistic Abuse survivors recover


Ronia Fraser is a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coach who won International Coach of the Year at the 2019 International Coaching Awards. Today she's sharing more about the role coaching can play in the recovery and healing journey of a narcissistic abuse survivor.

Narcissistic Abuse is one of the most common but least acknowledged forms of abuse which without fail has detrimental effects on the victim’s mental and physical health and quality of life. 
It creeps in with a smiling face but erodes your foundations so quickly, in a manner not unlike pouring drain unblocker into your sink. Within seconds there's corrosion. Within minutes erosion of the underlying block: our fundamental sense of reality and subsequently our identity. 
The Narcissist essentially plays emotional ‘Jenga’ with the building blocks of all we are until everything starts to wobble and comes crashing down.

When someone comes to me for help, they usually have nothing left to lose. They’ve reached the end of their road but are desperately looking for a way to survive. 
The life they knew is gone. Their career, money, house, their dignity and self-respect, self-worth and most importantly themselves. They are still breathing, but on the inside is nothing but a big black void. 
And while this is without a doubt one of the hardest life experiences, it also is a unique opportunity to rebuild from ground zero and in the process of doing so recover who we were always meant to be.

And that’s exactly where Coaching can unleash its magic. 

1. Offering a non-judgmental environment

Friends and family might have distanced themselves because the survivor is behaving irrationally, unable to control emotions and obsessing about the topic of Narcissistic Abuse in a desperate attempt to be understood. But they won’t. Can’t. 
People who have experienced Narcissistic Abuse oftentimes go through the darkest time of their life seemingly all alone. 
Coaching offers a non-judgmental and supportive environment that the survivor most likely won’t find anywhere else. I provide a safe space where they can go through the motions of the healing process in their own time. 
Knowing that there is this one person who has their back, no matter what, and believes in them, even if they don’t themselves, is invaluable. Having this consistent support is vital.

2. Keeping the eye on the ball

It’s challenging enough having a client who’s all over the place. It’s even harder when there’s nothing there. In the beginning, the sole goal is to stay alive.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery is anything but linear and oftentimes feels like going one step forward and three steps back. I hold the goal of being healthy and symptom-free on behalf of my client, because especially early on in their journey they won’t be capable of doing so themselves. One of the most important keys to recovery is getting out of the victim mindset.
Regular coaching helps the client to keep the eye on the ball and actively bring the focus back on themselves, away from the narcissist and what they did, moving forward when the mind naturally is drawn to hold onto the past. 

3. Using language consciously 

Narcissistic Abuse causes significant linguistic damage in the victim. In simple terms, they’ve undergone calculated and systematic brainwash. 
Through active listening, I’m able to identify unhealthy language patterns and limiting beliefs and challenge them. In combination with NLP, Coaching is very powerful in helping the client to learn how to use language very consciously and rephrase linguistic programming.
This will, in turn, change the way the survivor sees and feels about themselves. Self-care is crucial for the recovery and it all starts with the way we talk to ourselves.

4. Eliciting values

Most of us live our life according to what we think is supposed to be important to us based on what we’re told, rather than how we actually feel about.
For a Narcissistic Abuse survivor, all their values have been called into question to a point where absolutely nothing makes any sense anymore.
Coaching provides a great opportunity for an in-depth value elicitation, to get clear on what is important to them after removing a life-long build-up of layers. This way I help them build the very foundation for creating a new life for themselves.

5. Learning to dream

Getting a Narcissistic Abuse survivor to imagine a positive happy future is impossible. At the very beginning of their journey, they can’t even think one day ahead. In the early recovery, it’s all about staying alive one day at a time. 
To get them to allow themselves to dream takes patience, in-depth change work, gentle encouragement and practice. Baby steps. I hold this space for my clients and throughout our work together time travel with them to the future.
It’s astonishing what amazing future becomes possible when the healing is done properly.

6. Setting goals 

Most clients I work with are smart, independent and used to be highly functioning and successful. Natural goal setters. But now they find themselves in a place where they don’t know who they are, how they got here and where they’re supposed to be going.
Once we learned to dream again, we can also start setting goals again. It’s small goals to start with, a week at a time, but the goals become bigger and bigger and eventually bigger than we could have ever imagined before. And that’s where the fun begins.

7. Creating the most authentic life

Having started from nothing and having weeded out the garden, the survivor is now able to create an authentic life in line with their values and beliefs, genuinely fulfilling and true to themselves. The impossible becomes possible. 
One of the most beautiful things for me about this work is that throughout our time together I equip my clients with a very valuable toolbox for them to use to stay in the coaching mindset, continue to build resilience and maintain a healthy relationship with themselves.  

Disclaimer: Please note that Narcissistic Abuse results in complex trauma on the deepest level, which at times can exhibit severe mental health challenges (PTSD). Coaching is only suitable at the later stages of the healing process. Do not coach a client during the acute stages of their recovery journey without having completed sufficient training in suitable trauma intervention modalities but refer them to a qualified professional instead.

Find out more about Ronia's story and her coaching journey in her inspiring interview! Watch it here.