Will Counseling Help my Emotionally Abusive Husband?

Emotional abuse is one of the most difficult kinds of abuse to prove. This is especially true when it comes to showing a person that they are emotionally abusive to others. Those with personality disorders like narcissism are especially unlikely to understand how they can hurt the people around them. In some cases, they may go to counseling to try and help things, but whether it works or not will depend on a few critical factors:

Understanding the Problem
One of the most critical factors as to whether or not someone will change has to do with whether they understand that they need to. The first step in the twelve-step program, admitting that there is a problem, can also hold true when it comes to therapy. It's important to note that there doesn't need to be a specific diagnosis so much as an understanding that life as it has been needs to be different, and that part of the change needs to come from them.

Wanting to Change
Calling someone a name rarely helps them to change. This is especially true if you call them crazy or abusive. The best way to approach someone who has a part in making life hard is to show him how his actions affect others, and to ask him if he is willing to make changes to make life and relationships better for himself and his family.

Having Reasons to Change
Another big part of this is reasons for change. One of the biggest reasons for many people to change is, unfortunately, that it's the only way to keep what they have. One of the things that you may have to do in regard to your husband is to give him a choice between getting better or leaving. If he is being selfish and abusive with no consequences (e.g. you won't leave him), then there is really no reason for him to change. If you let him know that you will divorce him or separate from him if he continues to be abusive, but you are willing to support him in working through it in counesling, these are strong positive boundaries that may give him enough reason to change.

Support and Follow-Through
Finally, these cannot be empty promises. Support means doing what you say, and committing to understand your own role in the bad parts of your relationships. Even if your role is simply staying in the relationship as a victim, that has a part in the abuse dynamic. Getting help for the toll that emotional abuse has taken on you, and learning to assert your needs and understand your value are as important for the healing of your family as your husband's counseling.

Cite this page: N., Pam M.S., "Will Counseling Help my Emotionally Abusive Husband?," in PsychologyDictionary.org, January 10, 2016, https://psychologydictionary.org/article/will-counseling-help-my-emotionally-abusive-husband/ (accessed October 15, 2019).
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