How and when to use empathetic confrontation

Wendy T. Behary, LCSW Psychotherapist & Author, shares advice on how and when to use empathetic confrontation when working with narcissists
How To Use Empathetic Confrontation With Narcissists
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How and when to use empathetic confrontation

Empathetic confrontation is actually a cheap strategy from schema-therapy and one that is very useful in working with narcissists. I write about it in my book and offer some suggestions for the general reader, even how they can use this in their relationships with narcissists. It's basically empathy plus confrontation. So, in other words, "I understand that you didn't mean to be hurtful when you said that to me. I understand that you didn't mean to be late coming home tonight, but it's hurtful to me. But it would be helpful if you could call. It would just feel like you were thinking about me if you did that." Or, the but might include something like, "That's just not acceptable," setting a harsher limit because the behavior is too aggressive, abusive, too pushy, too disrespectful. So it's understanding, it's not sympathy, it's not compassion, you may not even agree with it or endorse it, but you get it. So empathy is I say I get that you were given the message that you could have whatever you want, that you're special. I get that in your role as a CEO, everyone jumps when you say jump, but that's not how the real world works, Joe. It just doesn't work that way. And that's why you're having so much trouble, and that's empathetic confrontation.

Wendy T. Behary, LCSW Psychotherapist & Author, shares advice on how and when to use empathetic confrontation when working with narcissists


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Wendy T. Behary, LCSW

Psychotherapist & Author

With 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 The New Jersey Institute for Schema Therapy. She has been treating clients, training professionals and supervising psychotherapists for more than 20 years. Wendy is also on the faculty of the Cognitive Therapy Center and Schema Therapy Institute of New York, where she has trained and worked with Dr. Jeffrey Young since 1989. She is a founding fellow of The Academy of Cognitive Therapy (Dr. Aaron T. Beck). Wendy is also the President of the Executive Board of the International Society of Schema Therapy (ISST).

Wendy Behary has co-authored several chapters and articles on schema therapy and cognitive therapy. She is the author of the New Harbinger Publication (1st and upcoming 2nd edition) Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed. 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. She lectures both nationally and internationally to professional and general audiences on schema therapy, and the subject of narcissism, relationships, 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, 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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