The Martyr Client

The Martyr Client

Martyr clients are those who invite exploitation and invoke exasperation in even the most patient of therapists. The profound self-effacement of the martyr client, often referred to as masochistic, induces sadistic or authoritarian responses from abusive partners, demeaning bosses and thoughtless friends. Even after a therapist has tried heroically to coach, support, and encourage them to take care of themselves, these clients cannot muster the most basic self-advocacy.

Drawing on Control-mastery Theory and using clinical vignettes to illustrate various techniques,this workshop will provide a framework for understanding the martyr client and developing an effective treatment strategy. We will also examine the inevitable and disturbing countertransference reactions therapists develop in working with this maddening presentation and offer ways to manage and use them in therapy to help the martyr client. Participants will be encouraged to discuss their own clinical material.

This workshop will enable you to:
  • understand how Control-mastery Theory explains the dynamics of the martyr client
  • identify common pathogenic beliefs with this population and how they are tested with the therapist
  • identify appropriate and case specific interventions as well as frequent pitfalls
  • understand how in taking steps toward greater self-care the therapist can be most helpful to this type of client and others