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Counselor Perceptions Regarding Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Traits, and Domestic Violence

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A Correction to this article was published on 08 June 2023

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There is an increasing amount of content in popular media attempting to connect narcissistic personality disorder with domestic violence and intimate partner violence, sometimes referred to as narcissistic abuse. Counselors may engage with both survivors and those who perpetrate domestic violence (DV) or intimate partner violence (IPV), as well as clients with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) or narcissistic traits. There is, however, a lack of literature investigating counselor perceptions of NPD, narcissistic traits, DV, and IPV. Seven licensed professional counselors were interviewed who had worked with clients who had experienced DV or IPV as perpetrators or survivors of abuse. The researchers investigated licensed counselors’ perceptions of NPD, narcissistic traits, DV, and IPV using hermeneutic phenomenological qualitative inquiry. Five themes emerged from this study: narcissistic characteristics, differentiating NPD versus narcissistic traits, mental health and IPV/DV, experience (or lack of) with NPD clients, and education. Although counselors reported working with a high number of IPV/DV cases, counselors demonstrated a nuanced understanding of narcissism and DV. Participants agreed narcissistic traits themselves were seen more often than NPD diagnoses, but it is likely loved ones who have experienced IPV/DV are looking to attribute the perpetrator’s abuse to mental health. The limited amount of treatment provided to clients diagnosed with NPD paired with lack of diagnostic criteria regarding “narcissistic abuse” to describe perpetrators of IPV/DV indicates the need for increased education and further research of IPV/DV as it coincides with the term “narcissistic abuse” or NPD.

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The datasets generated and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Correspondence to Erin Lofties.

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The original online version of this article was revised: the reference and its in-text citation of Green & Charles (2019), which was cited with two different author group because of surname change of first author has been corrected.

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Littlebear, S., Lofties, E. & Mikolon, T. Counselor Perceptions Regarding Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Traits, and Domestic Violence. Contemp Fam Ther 46, 231–240 (2024).

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