How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask TherapistMarryAnn Your Own Question
TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5838
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Type Your Mental Health Question Here...
TherapistMarryAnn is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Background: I have been in therapy with my husband (I am

Resolved Question:

I have been in therapy with my husband (I am separated from) with a therapist that is experienced in dealing with abusive spouses. My husband is an alcoholic, verbally, emotionally & financially abusive, I believe narcisstic and highly manipulative with his charisma. When I left I had no self esteem left because of him. I have been in counseling for years trying to put myself back together. We have met with the therapist about 8 times. Both of us have spoken to her individually. My husband wanted to do the counseling; so I agreed to do it to be sure my decision for divorce was not just emotionally based and so he couldn't say to my kids "see your mom doesn't want to work anything out." My last therapist encouraged me to leave him by telling me "this isn't going to get any better."
This therapist continues to side with him on things that are ridiculous. I feel like in some ways she is discounting what I say. She asks me to talk about things first because he won't, then next thing I know after his response I have been invalidated for something that I shouldn't have been. I feel like I need to chalk her up to another person he has managed to manipulate into thinking what "wonderful person he is". She is patrionizing him....and I want to say "give me a break!" this man is duping you into thinking he does everything he can possibly do...but I know better! Then at times he twists the truth and I have to really speak up and say "there are important things that are not being considered and if we aren't honest about things we are not going to get anywhere."
We had a session last night and I am still fuming from it. I am more than happy to take responsibility for what I do...but he is trying to get her to believe that I am the one that has "hurt his feelings because of what I say"...PLEASSSSEEE!!! This man never shows any emotion or empathy for anything!! His exterior for his feelings being hurt is so thick, I have never seen his feelings hurt about anything (in 30 yrs)!! He ignores what I ask or say, everything is his way, ex: "tv shows watched, places we go, what we eat". So, because I am standing up for myself or ask why about something, or make a comment during these sessions about what things to consider I am hurting his feelings?" The therapist last night nailed me for speaking up about something he could have done but, he didn't do it. His whole demeanor in these sessions are quiet & won't say much...a good way to get someone to feel sorry for him. It's difficult to give you all the details of the situation but, I hope this gives you an idea.
These sessions are very expensive and I don't want to bail out to soon but, I don't understand what this therapist is doing. She has 30 yrs in the business and seems very competent. Is she really that oblivious to what is going on with him or is this her tactic to get on his good side to get him to realize what he has been doing? I don't know.
In some ways this is hurting my self esteem again because some of the things she is justifying for him are wrong and I know it. It is making me angry and confused again. The other problem is that it is giving him fuel for justifying what he is doing. She has to know what this is doing to me also. I'm afraid I am really going to speak up and say what I think, (which I should be able to) but, I am afraid they will both retaliate against me & I am tired of being beat up on. Or should I try to slowly reduce the sessions and stop them? (my thought is yes)
What do you recommend?
Thank you for your input
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

I agree with you, stop these sessions immediately. The therapist may have 30 years experience, but all that means is that she should know better than to allow a possible narcissist draw her in. But it happens sometimes. Therapist sometimes don't see it or they have their own unresolved issues that get in the way of seeing a situation clearly. It sounds like this is what has happened in your case.

There is no way any therapist should use a tactic of getting on a person's good side to help them in therapy. The damage she is doing to you is proof that this would be a wrong technique to use. The therapist should be empathetic and understanding to both of you and provide a balanced and neutral point of view in all things she suggests or helps you with. The idea is that she is there to provide guidance and nothing else. She is to let the two of you work out the issues with only minimal help from her. That does not sound like what is going on here.

It is up to you as to whether or not you say something about the sessions to her. You need to weigh whether or not you feel the consequences would hurt you more than the voicing of your frustrations would help you. Either way, it is unfortunate that you are having to feel it is them against you. You should never be put in a situation such as this one in a vulnerable place like therapy.

If you decide to find a new therapist, asking for a referral would help reduce the chances of you having another bad experience. Try talking with your personal doctor about a referral. Or if you attend church, talk with your pastor. They often know good therapists or can help you themselves. You can also search on line at Here is a guide to finding a good therapist:

Don't be deterred by your bad experience. There are many good therapists out there who can help you recover from the abuse you suffered. It's just a matter of finding the one therapist you feel you can work with and who stands by the standards the profession demands. Keep trying, you will get there.

If I can help in any other way, please let me know.

I hope this has helped you,

TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you