Dealing with Abusive, Difficult People:

At Beyond the Storm my practice has a strong focus on working with people moving through storm situations with the difficult, demanding, even abusive people in their lives. Many times by the time a client reaches my office they are deep in depression and anxiety. They are suffering much confusion as they struggle to handle difficult situations at home, work, and community.

Of course, we are all probably someone else's "difficult person" but my focus is on empowering people to move out of co-dependency, emotional dependency, fear, and intimidation about some very challenging people in their lives. Sometimes that person could be a mother you truly love and support but who has a way of belittling, criticizing, and "picking" at you like she did during your growing up years. But today you only want her to have a happy retirement. As you support her it seems your childhood can never seem to heal, or old wounds continue to be ripped open, and you struggle to find some semblance of self-confidence and competence. The challenge now is learning how to handle your mother in a healthy manner and to quit fighting her, or feeling defeated or "defined" by her. The time now is to learn how to stop being that incompetent, small child, and instead become a mature woman, with healthy boundaries, who is strong and whole. Sometimes we can find ourselves stuck in the same storm situation, never "moving beyond the storm". Today is the day to begin making permanent changes for your future.

Or the difficult person in your life could be a spouse, a growing child, an adult child, or other needy, demanding relatives either by blood or by marriage. Stop being used and manipulated and made to feel deficient and begin walking in healthy boundaries. I work with people to learn new healthy behaviors that protect their boundaries, how to understand the difference between providing healthy support to our loved ones, and when we have given to a fault. In short, learning how to have a happy, healthy life. New communication skills are needed to break old, dysfunctional patterns. It is time to "move through the storm" to a better future, one step at a time, one day at a time.

Many times the difficult, challenging person could be a person at work, or in your community. A person who is very aggressive, a definite bully, and in whose presence you seem to lose your personal power. Now is the time to learn how to hold your own, be your own person, with your own understanding of healthy boundaries.

In my work with clients dealing with difficult people I cover the following areas:

  • What is client's long-term pattern with difficult, challenging people?
  • What communication and boundary skills are needed to create a healthy boundary?
  • What are the patterns of intimidation, fear, and exploitation?
  • What is the best approach or strategy for making gradual, but important changes in behavior?
  • What is the core, real identity of a client who has been confused by the pressure of difficult persons?

I am there for you. Let us "move beyond the storm" together.


Caroline Gearing, MA, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
"moving beyond the storm"

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