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Digital Seminar

2-Day: Healing from Toxic Relationships: Help Your Clients Recover from Gaslighting, Narcissism, and Emotional Abuse

Stephanie Sarkis, PhD, NCC, DCMHS, LMHC
12 Hours 16 Minutes
Audio and Video
Nov 10, 2022
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Digital Seminar
Never expires.


Toxic relationships come in all types— romantic partners, business partners, parents, siblings, friends…

and everyone, at some point in their lives, has experienced a toxic relationship.

As a therapist you’ll encounter at least one client a month who is preparing to leave or has left a toxic relationship. They’re emotionally fragile, so being well-educated on how to provide the best care for your client is a must - as well as how to deal with your own feelings of frustration when your client returns to the toxic relationship.

Stephanie Sarkis PhD is the author of the best-selling books Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People— and Break Free and Toxic Relationships: Help Your Clients Recover from Gaslighting, Narcissism, and Emotional Abuse.

Watch Dr. Sarkis, for this LIVE two-day webinar where she shows you, through evidence-based practice: trauma-informed therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, solution-focused therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, case studies and her 20 years of experience, how to help clients rebuild their lives after the trauma of a toxic relationship:

  • Knowing what to do when your client gets “hooked” on the cycle of abuse & reconciliation
  • Client who continues to seek out similar toxic relationships
  • Moving on without closure
  • Letting go of anger and self-blame
  • Establishing boundaries
  • Practising self-care
  • Grief – working through the loss
  • Rebuilding emotionally healthy relationships

Don’t miss out on getting answers to an all-too common but underdiscussed personality type!

Purchase today!



PESI Australia, in collaboration with PESI in the USA, offers quality online continuing professional development events from the leaders in the field at a standard recognized by professional associations including psychology, social work, occupational therapy, alcohol and drug professionals, counselling and psychotherapy. On completion of the training, a Professional Development Certificate is issued after the individual has answered and submitted a quiz and course evaluation. This program is worth 12.5 hours CPD for points calculation by your association.



Stephanie Sarkis, PhD, NCC, DCMHS, LMHC's Profile

Stephanie Sarkis, PhD, NCC, DCMHS, LMHC Related seminars and products

Dr. Stephanie Sarkis is a renowned therapist and leading expert on gaslighting. With over two decades of experience as a clinician, author, and speaker, Dr. Sarkis has become a trusted voice in the fight against gaslighting and related forms of psychological manipulation. Her groundbreaking book, Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People – and Break Free, has become a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the devastating impact of gaslighting and how to heal from its effects. She was named a diplomate and clinical mental health specialist in child and adolescent counseling by the American Mental Health Counselors Association, one of only 20 professionals in the United States with this dual designation. Dr. Sarkis is also a national certified counselor, licensed mental health counselor, and a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family and Circuit Mediator. She has been in private practice for over 20 years. Dr. Sarkis is a senior contributor for Forbes online and is also a contributor to Psychology Today. Her Psychology Today posts have been viewed over 70 million times. Her Psychology Today article “11 Red Flags of Gaslighting in a Relationship” went viral, with over 15 million views. She has taught the graduate-level classes Diagnosis and Assessment of Mental Health Disorders in addition to Law and Ethics of Counseling at the University of Florida and Florida Atlantic University. Dr. Sarkis earned a PhD, EdS, and MEd in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Florida, named by US News and World Report as the top counselor education program in the country. Dr. Sarkis has appeared on CNN, 10% Happier with Dan Harris, Sirius XM Doctor Radio, ABC (U.S.), ABC (Australia), in USA Today, The Washington Post, Newsweek, and many more media outlets. Her research on comorbid ADHD and its impact on pediatric executive function was published in the Journal of Attention Disorders. She hosts the Talking Brains podcast and is based in Tampa, Florida. Her latest book Healing from Toxic Relationships is available now. Visit her website at


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dr. Stephanie Moulton Sarkis maintains a private practice. She serves as a contributor to Forbes, The Huffington Post, and Psychology Today and is an advisory panel member for Evergreen Certifications. Dr. Sarkis is a facilitator for Collaborative Divorce. She receives royalties as a published author. She receives a speaking honorarium, recording, and book royalties from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dr. Stephanie Moulton Sarkis is a professional expert for, part of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. She is a member of the Attention Deficit Disorder Association, American Mental Health Counselors Association, Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder, and the National Board for Certified Counselors.


  1. Employ evidence-based practice from trauma-informed therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, solution-focused therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and cognitive-behavioural therapy to assist clients in rebuilding their lives.
  2. Assess suicidality effectively and treat it through integrative psychodynamic psychotherapy and dialectical behaviour therapy.  
  3. Determine a diagnosis of complex PTSD through trauma-informed interviewing skills. 
  4. Evaluate the research-based benefits of altruism through volunteering in increasing self-esteem and self-efficacy.
  5. Analyze how parental alienation further traumatizes clients and their children.
  6. Build 10 tools to help clients reestablish healthy boundaries via research-based activities.
  7. Utilize clinical strategies to uncover and heal client’s family-of-origin trauma.
  8. Minimize symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder through trauma-informed therapeutic techniques.
  9. Prescribe individualized therapeutic care to improve client engagement when discussing experience of abuse.
  10. Determine level of family-of-origin pathology in order to inform choice of treatment interventions.
  11. Demonstrate knowledge of vicarious trauma for purposes of reducing clinician burnout.
  12. Diagnose complex post-traumatic stress disorder in a clinical setting.


Neurochemical Cycle of Abuse: Every Day is a Recovery

  • Harder to leave when trauma bonding has occurred
  • Abuse = cortisol levels and adrenaline increases
  • Reconciliation = dopamine and oxytocin increase
  • Client’s brain can get addicted to this cycle
  • Withdrawal and/or reframing grief after the relationship (i.e., drug withdrawal)

Phases of Toxic Relationships – Cycle of Abuse

  • Attachment Style – Predictor of abuse vulnerability
  • Idealizing - Relationship begins - seems too good to be true, pressured commitment
  • Devaluing - Toxic person starts emotional abuse, eventually ramps up into physical abuse
  • Discarding - Client discovers toxic person’s infidelity, “financial cheating” or toxic person leaves

Results of Toxic Relationships

  • Complicated grief
  • Questioning what was “real” in the Relationship
  • Complex PTSD
  • Dissociative episodes
  • Brief psychotic episode
  • Dissociative identity disorder
  • Suicidality
  • Case study: Sarah, a 52-year-old female who is experiencing complex grief as a result of an abusive family of origin and abusive relationship

Returning to the Toxic Relationship

  • Leave toxic relationships at least three times before they leave for good or are killed
  • Abusers “hoover” victims to get their “narcissistic supply”
  • Therapists may start “fixing” rather than supporting client – codependent behaviour

Solution-Focused Therapy to Relearn Self-Care

  • Creating future plans
  • Emotional and physical safety
  • ADL’s – in extreme cases
  • Reconnecting with healthcare (infidelity, etc)
  • Seeking injunction – restraining order
  • Reframing self-care as a necessity rather than a luxury
  • Case study: James, a 53-year-old male relearning basic life skills that were lost as a result of severe abuse and depression

Trauma-Informed Therapy to Break Free from Codependence

  • Multicultural therapy’s view that codependence is a culture-bound term
  • Multi-cultural implication – divorce, religious, traditional gender roles/abuse
  • Determining clients “secondary gain” from codependent behaviour

Toxic Family of Origin

  • Abuse can be intergenerational
  • Family of origin substance abuse
  • “Splitting” - golden child and a scapegoat child
  • Siblings may maintain dysfunctional roles into adulthood
  • Using genograms to identify client’s familial behavior patterns
  • Transgenerational family therapy
  • Caregiving and elderly toxic parents

Existential Therapy Tools to Manage Suicidality

  • Best way to assess for suicidality according to research
  • Myths about suicidal behavior
  • Hidden signs of suicidality
  • Evidence-based treatment of suicidality resulting from abuse
  • Case study: Emma, a 17-year-old who has ended an abusive relationship

Coparenting with a Toxic Personality

  • Parental alienation
  • Using detailed parenting plan
  • Resources available - parent coordinator, family law attorney (some do pro bono work)
  • Communicate via a coparenting app
  • Case study: Ian, a 48-year-old who is learning how to coparent with their ex-partner who has been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.

DBT & Grief Therapy Techniques to Redefine Closure

  • Toxic person will not give closure
  • Toxic people keep exes and friends “in rotation”
  • Helping clients find their own closure
  • Forgiveness is not necessary for closure
  • Dangers of pushing an agenda of forgiveness on clients
  • Sometimes closure is not possible
  • Clients can have fulfilling lives without closure or forgiveness

Reconnecting with Trusted Friends and Family

  • Reassessing emotional health of client’s loved ones
  • Client’s level of disclosure about the abuse to friends and family – how much is too much
  • Case study: Jimmy, a 28-year-old male reconnecting with family after going no-contact with his mother

ACT & Trauma-Focused Techniques to Help Client Forgive Themselves

  • Forgiving can be a continual process
  • Empty chair and writing techniques
  • CBT – changing inner dialogue (to non-violent communication)
  • Altruism as pathway to healing volunteerism – increase self-esteem and self-concept

The Power of Language in Session

  • When to refer to a relationship as “abusive”
  • Go at same pace of your client
  • Ask client what words they prefer
  • Some words can be triggers
  • Case Study: Sheila, a 38-year-old mother of two who feels she is the cause of the difficulties in her marriage

Trauma-Informed and Solution Focused Therapy - Prepare for Life After a Toxic Relationship

  • Helping clients identify signs of a healthy person
  • Addressing client’s concerns about a healthy relationship feeling “boring”
  • Addiction to the excitement of a toxic relationship
  • Reviewing client’s progress

TIPS for Therapists

  • Attend regular therapy sessions and clinical supervision
  • Beware of client’s experiences triggering your trauma
  • Expect to be contacted by abuser
  • You may be involved in litigation
  • Protecting yourself and your practice
  • Look for signs of burnout
  • Practice proactive self-care

Target Audience

  • Mental health professionals who specialize in women’s issues, work in domestic violence shelters, work with LGBTQIA+ clients, marriage and family therapists, and therapists that work in private practice, group settings, inpatient, and at schools.
  • Members of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, American Psychological Association, American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and American Mental Health Counseling Association would benefit.

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