Narcissistic Traps at the Heart of Therapy - offered by Map and Talk
16th February 2023

WARNING! This event has passed.

Timings: 9:30am to 1pm 

Narcissism permeates all aspects of contemporary society and can distort our individual and collective ambitions, achievements and sensitivity to our own and others' feelings. It shows up in relationships as imbalances of power, entitlement, overvaluation of ideas, crushed feelings and threats of denigration and contempt.  It operates in our cultures and social systems as well as our interpersonal, group and inner lives.  

Healthy forms of narcissism (self-assertion, appropriate pride and delight and expression) can get entangled with harmful forms of idealisation, binary prejudice and division.  Whilst the more divisive and extreme forms of narcissism are relatively easy to recognise even if challenging to treat or oppose, there can be a  narcissistic element to all our coping strategies.  The narcissistic element can trap us and we lose ourselves in restrictive patterns of relating that can be mapped as traps, dilemmas and snags for our sense of self, agency and identity.  

Using the process of mapping to compassionately notice, name and negotiate the push and pull of feelings with self and others using the ideas and methods of cognitive analytic therapy can make a real difference to how therapy, counselling and any helping relationships works both in the process of formulating life's difficulties, traumas and losses and in co-creating a healing narrative.  Tracking them in the immediate moment can help discuss narcissistic traps, dilemmas and snags more safely and openly.   At the heart of these patterns is a yearning for something special, ideal and total that defends from or is divided against something remembered and once lived as dreadful that haunts us and is unformulated or not openly storied.  The push and pull between these opposing forces narrowly shape our sense of self and can hijack narrative control of our everyday interactions and limit our reflective capacity.  

This half-day CPD event is for therapists and counsellors and people in the mental health professions.  A series of template diagrams for working with moments and memories in terms of narcissistic traps which are relationally ghosted or haunted by formative dilemmas and snags will be explained, demonstrated and tried out in pairs.   Participants should go away with new ways of thinking about and working with narcissism in their everyday practice; as well as the risks of narcissism in the therapist, their model of working and their professional role.  They may find a renewed appreciation of the transparency, simplicity and versatility of CAT as an over-arching framework for psycho-social and relational therapy.

Steve Potter is a psychotherapist and a life member of ACAT and works as a therapist, supervisor and teacher.   He is the author of two books on therapy.  

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