Greetings, Adult Children of the Personality Disordered

While people with Narcissism or Borderline navigate the world differently in many ways, the impact on their children is essentially quite similar.  You do not feel at ease in identifying and expressing your true selves.  In fact, you may have difficulty even being able to sense an inner, unique experience of self, much less be ok with it. So identifying what works, and doesn’t work, for you about this group may be a struggle at first. Even if you can identify it, actually honoring it and expressing it can feel daunting, perhaps terrifying!  My job is to keep the group feeling safe enough to take the risk of recognizing your experience, felt as well as thought, and communicating it in a way that invites feed-back and initiates an exciting and productive exchange.

This is also a fee-based group, with a sliding scale of $30-$50. I’m trusting you to decide what you can afford and honestly assess what the group is worth to you. Fully expect that this may be a challenge to you, as in all likelihood your ability to assert either of these has not been encouraged! Each group will include six modules of two hours each, held every other week. After completion, a more process-oriented group is planned.

CAUTION: This is not only an educational group, but one designed to bring out the deeper patterns that live in you physically and emotionally. In addition, you will be there to support or challenge each other through the activation of emotions, as well as the cognitive distortions that will inevitably arise. If you suspect you may not have the strength to manage, to effectively contain, and to work through difficult emotional material, talk with your individual therapist before committing to the group. This is not a substitute for therapy, but a useful integrative tool, or a next step to successfully completed individual therapy. If you do have an individual therapist, therefore, I would welcome a release of confidentiality to communicate with them to better serve your healing.

Here are some recommendations:

  • There are some good books on the subject. Walking on Eggshells is the best known, but there are many others, and I’ll be creating an ongoing list of books and articles. However, the real impact is not on what we know, but how we relate to ourselves and others.  Many of these books tend to emphasize an understanding of the parent; our focus is much more on understanding the impact to you, and how you can help each other in healing that.
  • Get a notebook for journaling. We will probably be doing some writing exercises in group.  If you need a notebook, I have some I can sell you at cost, but really, any college notebook works well, especially if it doesn’t feel precious, and you can be as messy as you want!
  • If you find yourself struggling in group, or for any reason disinclined to return, please talk to me first.  I’m glad to get feedback, and well aware some of the things we’ll be trying won’t be as helpful as I thought they’d be. Also recognize that as a child of someone with a personality disorder, the idea that you could express dissatisfaction, or hurt feelings, and expect a respectful, caring response was, well, ridiculous in your family of origin. So you may find yourself turning off, isolating, and ultimately separating from the group altogether. Instead, I hope you’ll use the group as an opportunity to challenge yourself and the group to repair the rupture.
  • For the first couple of months, at this point, I’m inclined to suggest not contacting each other outside of group, unless you already have a relationship. Let’s clarify boundary and other essentials first. Then let’s have a discussion on comfort levels around connecting outside of group.

The six sessions will address:

  • Attachment wounds: how we relate to others in a way that doesn’t allow us the satisfaction of true connection, and learning to trust the process of rupture and repair
  • Boundaries: not only a concept, but a felt sense of personal territory, and how we assert our personal space
  • Connection: not only in how we connect with others, but also how we connect with ourselves, and stay with our own truth as we listen to another’s
  • Perfectionism and judgmentalism, and learning to give one’s self the permission to be flawed, and the room to grow
  • Group choice: in previous groups, we’ve explored sibling and other significant relationships, forgiveness, and freeing up our ability to assert and protect ourselves. Each group gets to decide collectively what issue they most wish to explore
  • Graduation! We celebrate our own growth and understanding, as well as that of others in the group. We also transition, for those who are interested, in an ongoing process group.

The general outline of the group:

  • Beginning meditation and grounding.  Giving yourselves an opportunity to become more present to self, and more embodied in self, will be important as we move forward. From time to time, if I sense you’re stepping outside of yourself, I’ll probably gently challenge you to check in, and encourage you to ground again.
  • Check in.  Eventually, this will be an opportunity to let others know what the last group and your own subsequent observations and experiences brought up for you, including not only what resonated intellectually but, more importantly, your emotional and sensory experiences. You’ll be practicing vulnerability, but don’t force yourself to be more open than you’re ready to. To that end, in the first few groups, I’ll be keeping the check-in on the shorter side until I’m sure that you’re safe enough to be vulnerable
  • Topic of the day (psychoeducation). I’ll be going in-depth on a particular manifestation of the parent/child relationship and its long-term effects.  This will give us a more structured springboard for subsequent discussion.  More often than not, it will be paired with…
  • Exercise of the day.  No, you will not be sitting for two hours straight! From my twenty years doing trauma work, I’ve learned many exercises to engage the senses and deepen our understanding of how we connect with others. Some examples will address boundaries, include yogic practices, and increase our capacity for accepting disowned parts of ourselves using Voice Dialogue. While this may show up differently due to the current online format, we’ll still be actively engaged.
  • Processing.  I’m going to facilitate, and you’re going to share as much as you’re comfortable with, possibly even more than that, about what your present experience is and what thoughts arose.  While sometimes it can be beneficial to go into a narrative around what your parent/s did and how that affected you, one of the goals in this group is to (re)claim your life now and moving forward.
  • Closing. A brief check, a word or a phrase, that expresses your take-away from the group.

I look forward to taking this journey with you, and recognize the courage it takes for you to break free of the constraints set by your parents…and dare to connect with yourself and with others in the group.

You may reach me at any time. My phone is 303-459-4776 and my email is larsontherapy@aol.com

With gratitude!

Inga.