Association for NPD/Psychopathy Survivor
Treatment, Research & Education

The International Associational Body for
the Narcissistic Abuse Counseling Field

Narcissistic and Psychopathic Abuse: The Clinician's Guide to the New Field of Traumatic Pathological Love Relationships

Therapist Two-Day Training Workshop

Available as a Digital Workshop

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Sandra L. Brown, MA

It is not a far stretch to imagine that what a psychopath, anti-social or narcissist can do, and does do to others is more extreme than other forms of abuse. It is highly likely you already have (and have had) survivors of narcissistic and psychopathic abuse and trauma in your practice  without recognizing the signs of it. It seems incomprehensible we could miss the signs of  abuse from the most dangerous disorders in the DSM5. But we do.

A study about ‘Finding Competent Care’ in this population indicated the vast majority of survivors never found a therapist who recognized their ‘atypical trauma’ with its different presentation, or ever differentiated this type of abuse from traditional domestic violence. Consequently, they were never treated for their specific needs in therapy, or their #1 ‘hallmark’ symptom of traumatic pathological relationships. Furthermore, some were identified as ‘codependent’ and never treated for their personality trait elevations that had nothing to do with aversive histories.

‘Narcissistic abuse’ is a hot topic in the category of ‘new genres’ of counseling. Therapists are flocking to this specialty field and finding out in mid-treatment that there are unique knowledge bases needed to effectively treat these survivors.  The ‘Finding Competent Care’ study found most therapists did not have sufficient training for this population and missed key components of treatment.

This genre of counseling is not new but the awareness of it is. Field pioneer, Sandra L. Brown, M.A. brings her 30 years of treatment experience, research, data collections, trauma studies, hallmark symptom identification, and a developed model of care therapy approach for this specific population to this rapidly developing field.  Seasoned field experts Claudia Paradise, LCSW and Bill Brennan, LMHC bring their psychodynamic, trauma insights, and approaches to this depth psychology training and needed knowledge bases on the overlaps of Cluster B/psychopathy, trauma, and personality science in order to avoid treatment failure.

Learn how to —

  • Identify pathological love relationships
  • Differentiate PLRs from other stereotypical domestic violence, addictive, co-dependent, or dysfunctional relationships
  • Recognize the unique relational dynamics generated from the pathology and the traumatic impact to intimate partners
  • Understand why certain survivor personalities seem to be targeted
  • Key considerations for treating the traumatic aftermath

Course Outline

Pathological Love Relationships (PLR) Defined

  • What therapists are missing and misdiagnosing
  • What survivors named that led to treatment failure
  • PLR Description
  • Theoretical influences
  • Differentiating these relationships from other relational types
  • Research

Personality Disorders and Pathological Love Relationships

  • Identifying Pathological Love Relationships through personality and personality pathology
  • Personality disorders and the importance of the issue of ‘pervasiveness’
  • Symptomatic conditions -vs- characteristic conditions 
  • How to read life patterns of the normal and the disordered
  • Cluster B Disorders and the ‘danger zone personalities’ and spectrum

Identification of Pathological Love Relationships

  • The DSM-5 Alternative Model and relational pathology
  • The Categorical Model vs The Dimensional Alternative Model
  • The four core impairments in personality disorders
  • Definitions, descriptions and behaviors
  • Symptom traits vs maladaptive traits

Clinical Impressions vs Distance Diagnosing

  • What if I can’t diagnose the other party?
  • Partner-related assessments and usefulness
  • Developing clinical impressions, reasonable assumptions, and working hypothesis in detection

Psychoeducation for Survivors About Personality Disorders

  • Personality theories that create bias
  • The neuroscience and neurobiology of personality disorders
  • DSM symptoms reflected in the neuro impairments
  • How clients benefit from neurobiology education

Relational Dynamics and Stages of a PLR

  • Pre-Stage— trolling, luring and predatory targeting tactics
  • Early Stage— manufactured intensity, love bombing, mirroring, reflective relational tactics
  • Mid-Stage —coercive control, gaslighting and subterfuge
  • End relationship dynamics
  • Case studies for each stage

Survivor Personalities and Targeted Traits:  Critical Considerations for Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment

  • Who these survivors are NOT
  • Survivor personality super trait elevations and their importance in targeting and recovery
  • Agreeableness and cooperation: the relationship investment trait
  • Conscientiousness and self-directedness: the integrity-oriented life traits
  • Misidentification/misdiagnosis of personality ‘Super Traits’
  • Codependency, dependent PD, borderline PD, empaths

Trauma Symptoms and Trauma-Informed Treatment Considerations for Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse

  • How these survivors’ symptoms can be different
  • Atypical trauma and misdiagnosis
  • Cognitive dissonance and its presentation in survivors
  • Difference in chronic and persistent CD—not your college understanding
  • Cognitive dissonance and its connection to PTSD intensification
  • Case discussion on symptomology including Executive Functioning and CD
  • Trauma treatment and why EMDR is helpful
  • Treatment limitations and contraindications

Case Study:

Use the Four Identifiers to Recognize a Pathological Love Relationship

  • Pathology
  • Relational dynamics
  • Super trait personality
  • Atypical trauma present



  1. Differentiate narcissistic abuse from other domestic violence, addictive, co-dependent, or dysfunctional relationships to inform clinical treatment.
  2. Analyze the unique relational dynamics generated from the pathology and the impact to intimate partners
  3. Investigate common mistakes made by practitioners in the identification and treatment of survivors of narcissistic and psychopathic abuse.
  4. Investigate the five stages of a Pathological Love Relationship (narcissistic abuse).
  5. Analyze Cluster B personality disorders for a better understanding of how Cluster B partners can exploit the vulnerabilities of those in close relationships.
  6. Apply the DSM5 Alternative Model personality disorder ‘four impairments’ to predict relational deficits in narcissistic abuse.
  7. Investigate co-morbid and intensification factors related to behavior of the narcissistic abuser.
  8. Assess the role of chronic and pervasive Cognitive Dissonance in survivor symptomology.
  9. Analyze how gaslighting, coercive control, and subterfuge in the context of romantic relationships, can lead to negative impacts on cognition.
  10. Employ in-session approaches to help clients recognize narcissistic behavior in their partners and become aware of the consequences.
  11. Employ psychoeducation techniques to teach survivors about personality disorders and the manipulative tactics, coercive devices and subtle signs that they may be victims of narcissistic abuse.
  12. Utilize clinical techniques to unravel problematic beliefs that can prevent victims of narcissistic abuse from making therapeutic progress.

Who Should Take This Course?

  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Psychiatric Nurses


The cost for this course is $379.00 (USD).

Please note: Because the majority of the course materials are available immediately as downloads, we are not able to offer course refunds. 

Post-Workshop Consults/Supervision

Make the most of your training and ensure optimal benefits to your clients with post-workshop consults/supervision with Sandra Brown.

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