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How to Overcome Gaslighting & Manipulation

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Gaslighting is a psychological tactic that’s become a term we hear all too frequently in relationships. Gaslighting is far more insidious than lying or denying something to avoid conflict. Instead, it involves manipulating someone’s sense of reality. It’s important to recognize these manipulations for what they are: serious mind games.

Examples of Gaslighting

The Memory Game:
Questioning Your Recollection

A clear sign of gaslighting is when someone challenges your memory. Imagine your partner consistently telling you, “You’re not remembering that right.” This isn’t just about forgetting things; it’s a tactic to make you doubt your own mind and in turn, trust their memory more.

Blame Shifting: It's Always Your Fault

In a gaslighter’s eyes, they can do no wrong, and you’re always to blame. This constant blame can really hurt your self-confidence, making you feel like you’re always in the wrong.

Countering:Challenging Your Thoughts & Experiences

A gaslighter will often oppose your thoughts, saying things like, “You’re wrong.” This isn’t about finding the truth but about making the truth seem much more confusing & muddled than it actually is

Denial of Reality: Disputing Tangible Experiences

Have you ever been told, “That never happened,” even when you know it did? Gaslighters often deny your experiences, making you question what’s real and what’s not.

Confusion & Disorientation: Second-guessing Your Sanity

Feeling confused or like you’re losing your mind is common when dealing with gaslighting. Constantly having your reality questioned can leave you unsure about what’s true and what’s not.

Trivializing Your Emotions: Your Feelings Don’t Matter

If someone tells you, “You’re just being too sensitive,” they’re likely trivializing your feelings. This is a common gaslighting tactic, making you doubt the validity of your emotions.

 

Flipping the Script: Playing the Victim

Sometimes, a gaslighter turns the tables and plays the victim. They might say, “You’re hurting me by not trusting me,” shifting the blame onto you.

Withholding Information: Controlling the Narrative

When someone withholds information, they’re trying to control the situation. You might hear, “I didn’t tell you because you wouldn’t understand.” This keeps you out of the loop and dependent on them for information.

 

Gaslighting Through Isolation: Cutting Off Support Systems

A gaslighter might try to cut you off from friends or family, claiming, “They’re against us.” This isolation tactic is meant to make you more dependent on them and less on others. This type of behavior is considered higher risk for psychological and physical harm due to the lack of supports.

How To Respond to Gaslighting

Because gaslighting is often associated with personality disorders, such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, there is some evidence that limited engagement is the best bet. However, those who engage in manipulative and even gaslighting behaviors are not actually Narcissists and other responses may be more helpful. Before changing your response, it’s important to recognize safety needs first and foremost. Responding with intensity, challenges, consequences, etc, can escalate situations. Be sure that you have A safety plan  to ensure that you remain safe whether you are in an abusive relationship or plan to leave, or even after you leave. 

overcome manipulation and gaslighting in relationships

Stay grounded

When there is heightened tension, don’t match it. Being overly emotional can hinder a sense of confidence and  self-esteem. 

Gaslighting Crumbles around boundaries

Firm and clear boundaries protect you from further manipulation as well as falling into cycles of fighting that inevitably leave you more confused. Know and communicate boundaries during calm periods, so when there is tension, the boundaries are established. 

Trustworthy 3rd parties

Having a trusted friend, family member or support groups can provide validation, comfort and support while navigating the challenges of manipulative, gaslighting and coercive behavior. Keep safe and trustworthy people close to you.

Gaslighting's Nemesis:
Grey Rock 'Em, Babe.

The term “grey rock” or “grey rocking” refers to a tactic of subtle defense for those in a relationship with high manipulation, such as with a narcissistic personality disorder. In a nutshell, grey-rocking means that the engagement with a narcissist is so non-reactive and dull, that the narcissist loses interest in manipulating or coercing the person.

 

Being as boring and dull as a ‘grey rock’ removes the fuel that narcissist needs to survive: your reaction. Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a well-known relationship expert and speaker on the topic of relationship boundaries and abuse cycles commonly seen with NPD.  The approaches Dr. Ramani often shares are to decrease risk and intensity so that individuals can find their way out of a relationship safely and confidently.

Final Thoughts on Gaslighting

Recognizing gaslighting is crucial and marks the first step towards effectively dealing with it. It involves understanding and affirming that your memories, feelings, and thoughts are completely valid and should be respected. When you know what gaslighting looks like, you empower yourself to stand firm in your own reality. It’s about asserting that your experiences and emotions are not up for debate or manipulation by someone else.

 

Understanding gaslighting also helps in setting healthy boundaries in relationships. It enables you to identify when these boundaries are being crossed and gives you the confidence to speak up or seek support. Remember, acknowledging the problem is the beginning of finding a solution. By recognizing gaslighting, you take back control of your narrative and start the journey towards healing and empowerment. This knowledge not only protects you but also equips you to help others who might be facing similar situations. In the end, it’s about reclaiming your voice and your truth in a world where your reality is unequivocally yours.

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Do you offer traditional talk therapy?

of course! though we have some unconventional therapy approaches, we are rooted in evidenced based practices. Talk therapy is a major player in the therapy room! See What we Treat and Integrative Services for more information

Is Online Therapy As Effective As In-Person Therapy?

Online therapy is essentially face-to-face counseling, just conducted remotely. Studies show that teletherapy is as effective as traditional counseling. Professional organizations and state governments recognize its benefits and have set regulations for it. However, like any therapy, its success in achieving your goals isn’t guaranteed. It’s important to discuss with your therapist whether teletherapy is working for you.

Can I Change Therapists If I'm Not Happy?

Yes, you can switch therapists to another provider within the practice, or we can provide you a referral if preferred. We want to ensure that your time and effort are well spent, and that you are getting the relief you need, that’s why we work collaboratively with each other in the practice, as well as outside therapists who we know and trust.

How Do I Know If Therapy Is Helping?

You should feel like you’re making progress. Signs it’s working include:

Feeling comfortable talking to your therapist
Your therapist respects boundaries
You’re moving towards your goals
You feel listened to
You’re doing better in life
Your self-esteem is getting better

Is Online Therapy Easy to Use for Non-Tech-Savvy People?

Yes, it’s pretty simple to access sessions. You’ll need basic internet skills, such as opening and visiting the patient link sent to you via email. It’s similar to video chatting like Facetime or Zoom. We can also walk you through it on the phone the first time to ensure a strong connection

What Questions Should I Ask My New Therapist?

Feel free to ask anything. Some good questions are:

  • How often will we meet?
  • What do you specialize in?
  • What experience do you have with my issue?
  • What outcomes can I expect?
  • How will I know I’m progressing?
  • How long do you usually work with clients?
  • How will we set my treatment goals?

How Should I Prepare for My First Session?

Showing up is all that you need to do! But if you really want to get the most out of session, it could help to take some time to think about what you want from therapy. It helps to write down your goals, questions you have or things that you feel are important to share. 

What is the difference between associate therapists & fully licensed therapists?

Our Qualifications:

Our founder, Rebecca Sidoti, is a highly qualified, state-licensed therapist and supervisor with extensive training in anxiety related disorders and innovative treatment such as Ketamine Therapy. Mind by Design Counseling adheres to standards set by the our governing counseling boards.

To see each providers credentials, training and licenses, visit our “Meet the Therapists” Page to learn more.

 

  • LAC/LSW are therapists who may practice clinical work under the supervision of a fully licensed therapist.
  • LPC/LCSW are therapists who have completed the necessary clinical hours post-graduation under supervision and can practice clinical work independently.

What Geographic Areas Are Served?

Currently, we serve clients in New Jersey and are expanding to other states as telehealth laws evolve. While telehealth offers the convenience of attending sessions from anywhere, state laws require clients to be in-state during their session.

Is Virtual Counseling Suitable for Everyone?

Online therapy might not be as effective for individuals with chronic suicidal thoughts, severe trauma, significant mental health history, or those recently in intensive care. Such cases often benefit more from traditional, in-person counseling. We’ll help you decide if our online services are right for you during your intake and evaluation.

What Equipment is Needed for Online Therapy?

To join a session, log in using the credentials we provide. No downloads are needed. Our platform, compatible with both individual and group sessions, requires:
A computer or mobile device with a webcam and internet access.
We’ll help you test your setup before your first appointment to ensure a reliable connection. iOS users should use the Safari browser for mobile and tablet sessions.

What Questions Will Therapists Ask Me?

It depends on your goals. Expect questions about your thoughts, feelings, relationships, work, school, and health. They’ll ask to understand your therapy goals.

How Do You Keep Client Information Secure?

Security and Confidentiality of Sessions:
Your privacy is crucial to us. We use TherapyNotes, a HIPAA-compliant platform, ensuring secure and confidential teletherapy sessions. This platform’s security features include encrypted video connections, secure data transfers, and encrypted databases, ensuring your information is safe at all times.

What is VRT used for?

we use VRT to support Exposure Therapy, a long standing traditional therapy modality to treat phobias, anxiety and stress. we send a headset directly to your home so you can access VRT from anywhere.

VRT not only helps with exposure therapy for phobias, but is great for ADHD, mindfulness, PTSD and social anxiety.