What Is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting Support

Our Services / Gaslighting

Gaslighting

From pop culture, to the office… the term gaslighting has been woven into our vernacular in recent years. And although it may be the term of the moment, it’s more than just a trend. But what is gaslighting?

While we’re beginning to get close and comfortable to the concept – thanks to our brand new affinity for boundaries and buffering our mental health – the term isn’t always used in its correct form. So today, we’re here to clear up the murk and make your understanding of gaslighting a solid tool in your mental health toolbox.

Find A Therapist
A girl in a moody dark room with a virtual reality headset on, looking unsure

What Is Gaslighting?

According to one of our psychologists, gaslighting is ‘a type of emotional manipulation and abuse that aims to distort someone’s perception of reality’. It’s often found in toxic relationships (think romantic, platonic, professional or familial), and it’s a complete power play that can be a conscious or unconscious action by the gaslighter. 

Depending on the length of play, and the situation at hand, this form of emotional buse can even get to the point where the victim begins to doubt or feel confused by their own emotions, perceptions, ideas and sense of reality. As you can imagine, this can create an extremely volatile and complex situation between the two parties, especially if it’s a daily occurrence. 

 

What Is Gaslighting: How Can It Affect The Victim?

In a lot of situations, the victim isn’t always aware that they are being gaslit – which can perpetuate the cyclone of thoughts in their head. Sanity can be lost, and confidence, self-esteem and safety can feel like a thing of the past. The chronic invalidation by the gaslighter, which is usually someone that the victim has trust in,  can also trigger self-harming thoughts in the individual. How? Well, imagine if you’re constantly being told you’re not good enough, or that your story isn’t true. Over time, you’ll begin to believe it yourself. This is the gaslighting behaviour in action.

A wall of purple bricks

How Does Gaslighting Differ From Other Forms of Manipulation?

Where manipulation can occur for any number of reasons, gaslighting lands in the arena of forcing the victim to question their own experiences – whether it be their memories, their feelings, their sanity or their perception of an event. 

To make things clear, let’s illustrate an example of gaslighting behaviour. If you are trying to communicate a situation that unfolded in your office to your manager, and they respond with… ‘I never said that to you. You’ve made that up”… that’s probably gaslighting. 

Get Matched To A Therapist

What Are The Key Signs Of Gaslighting?

Gaslighting behaviour can happen in any kind of relationship, so how can you begin to notice it? Your best bet would be to keep a watch out for any signs and symptoms that may start to indicate you are suffering from this form of emotional abuse. 

Keep an eye out for someone who:

  • Tells lies or stories that don’t make sense or add up
  • Says one thing and acts another, even if they promised something different 
  • Denies events or conversations, even when presented with proof
  • Uses phrase to undermine your perception of reality, like ‘you’re crazy’, or ‘you’re being too sensitive’
  • Acts inconsistently, putting you down one minute, and giving you love or kind words the next
  • Acts aggressively when confronted about their behaviour
  • Tries to speak on your behalf
  • Aims to distort the way you perceive past events 
A hazy, psychedelic image of a man in a shirt, moving his head from side to side, taken with slow shutter speed evoking a sense of confusion

Gaslighting Behaviour: Phrases To Look Out For

Keep an eye out for these corkers. Examples of gaslighting include…

“That didn’t happen”

Uh… yeah it did. You’re not crazy. This old chestnut is the go-to for the gaslighter. By making you doubt yourself, you start questioning your instincts and your understanding of the situation.

The abuser is creating a false reality for the victim as a means of controlling them.

 

“I’m only doing this because I love you”

Puh-lease. In this instance the abuser wants the victim to think that they are doing what’s best, that they have the victim’s back. What is gaslighting here? It’s highly manipulative as it causes the victim to feel guilty and surfaces commonly in familial or romantic relationships.

 

“You’re too sensitive”

Your emotions are real. There is nothing more hurtful than having them invalidated and minimised by someone. This is a nasty play which causes the victim to place doubt in their perceptions, and themselves. A victim is more likely to withstand the emotional abuse of gaslighting if they are made to feel that they are contributing to the problem.

This one is common amongst family members and romantic relationships.

 

“You know everyone thinks you’re crazy”

The gaslighter gets off on making the victim question their sanity. When you’re made to feel as if you’re mentally unstable, and that others are talking about you, you’re less likely to ask for help. This is one example of gaslighting that keeps the victim trapped, often in abusive and toxic relationships.


It’s important to note that hearing any of the above examples of gaslighting doesn’t automatically mean you’re being gaslit. But they are key red flags to look out for, particularly if you’re starting to experience them on an ongoing basis from someone you suspect may be gaslighting you.

A black and white image of a hand reaching out underwater, surrounded by bubbles

What To Do If You’re A Victim Of Gaslighting

Well, it’s a big can of worms, and the situation can be complex at best. But the first thing you should do is recognise if you’re experiencing gaslighting behaviour. Identifying it when it occurs can be a great way to gain a better understanding of how it might be affecting you. If it’s happening to a loved one, talk to them about it and see if they’d like support in identifying it.


It can also be helpful to reach out for support – lean on your support network, be it your friends or family. However, when gaslighting behaviour occurs within a relationship from a family member, hearing the objective advice of a therapist can help you break through the murky waters of reality that are often caused by gaslighting. A psychologist or counsellor can help you to start to see things as they are, rather than through the eyes of the gaslighter, and help you to start living life with your feet back on the ground. 

FIND YOUR MATCH TODAY

Meet Our Therapists

PhotoDR NAVIT GOHAR-KADAR

dr navit gohar-kadar, Clinical Psychologist

PhotoMAJA CZERNIAWSKA

maja czerniawska, Senior Psychologist

PhotoEUNICE CHEUNG

eunice cheung, Psychotherapist & Counsellor

PhotoAYANTHI DE SILVA

ayanthi de silva, Registered Psychologist

PhotoTAYLA GARDNER

tayla gardner, Psychotherapist & Counsellor

PhotoKATIE ODONOGHUE

katie odonoghue, Relationship Coach & Couples Therapist

PhotoLORNA MACAULAY

lorna macaulay, Senior Psychologist

PhotoANNIA BARON

annia baron, Clinical Psychologist

PhotoSHUKTIKA BOSE

shuktika bose, Clinical Psychologist

PhotoDEEPIKA GUPTA

deepika gupta, Clinical Psychologist

PhotoEVA FRITZ

eva fritz, Senior Psychologist

PhotoDR EMER MCDERMOTT

dr emer mcdermott, Clinical Psychologist

PhotoNICOLE BURLING

nicole burling, Senior Psychologist

PhotoNATASHA KASSELIS

natasha kasselis, Senior Psychologist

PhotoDR PERRY MORRISON

dr perry morrison, Senior Psychologist

PhotoGAYNOR CONNOR

gaynor connor, Psychotherapist & Counsellor

PhotoSHAUNTELLE BENJAMIN

shauntelle benjamin, Registered Psychologist

PhotoLIZ KIRBY

liz kirby, Psychotherapist & Counsellor

PhotoSAM BARR

sam barr, Clinical Psychologist

PhotoDARREN EVERETT

darren everett, Senior Psychologist

PhotoJAMIE DE BRUYN

jamie de bruyn, Senior Psychologist

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is The Indigo Project?

We are a progressive online counselling practice, providing telehealth services in Australia. Our passionate and experienced local team includes psychologists, psychotherapists & counsellors, coaches and therapists that are trained to deliver online therapy to you in a safe and convenient way.

Whether you are looking for short or long term support through a challenging time, or looking to discover your potential, we want you to feel comfortable on every step of the journey.

Read more about Our Story 

Telehealth: About Therapy and Online Counselling

What can I expect from therapy? What is therapy like?

Every therapist is different and their therapeutic style and personalities are all unique. However, all of our Indigo practitioners will hold a compassionate and non-judgmental space for you, where you are free to be who you are. Your therapist is there to listen to you, guide you, and help you overcome life’s challenges.

Generally, you’ll spend the first session getting to know each other, talking about your history and what it is you’d like to work through. From your second session onwards, you’ll get to go deeper, peeling back the layers and all the while learning practical strategies to help you transform and grow.

At Indigo we encourage our clients to have at least 10-20 sessions, because we believe that therapy is a long-term journey of commitment, growth and investment in yourself. After seeing your therapist for a while, you may continue to book occasional check-in sessions as you feel more confident doing life with the knowledge and tools you have gained.

Who is online therapy for?

Everyone is welcome to attend online counselling or therapy with one of our practitioners at The Indigo Project.

Online counselling or therapy via Zoom is an accessible, safe and convenient option for those who are unable to attend face-to-face appointments, or simply prefer to meet online. Whether it be a busy schedule due to work and family, health-related reasons or distance, online counselling can help you.

What issues are suited for online therapy?

Our team of trained clinical psychologists, psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors attend to a range of common mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, grief and loss, life transitions, relationship issues and more.

A number of practitioners also specialise in areas such as sexuality, gender and identity, addiction, sports and performance, personality disorders and therapy for children and adolescents.

Several therapists also provide services in marriage counselling and couples therapy.

Finding the best psychologist or counsellor for me - where do I start?

We highly encourage you to view our practitioners and use the filtering options to find a psychologist or counsellor who can help you with the issues you are seeking help for.

Meet our therapists and what they can help you with here.

If you need help, our Therapy Matchmakers team will be able to match you with a practitioner. Give us a call on (02) 9212 5469 or email us at [email protected] so we can support you on your journey.

What if I can’t see the therapist I had in mind?

Our therapists typically have capacity to see several new clients each month. However these openings can get filled up fast from those who have been on a waitlist. If there is someone that you particularly want to see but is currently unavailable, we can place you on a waitlist until there is an opening.

If you prefer to attend an online counselling session sooner, our Therapy Matchmakers can help you find an alternative practitioner based on your needs and what you are looking to achieve in therapy.

Meeting a therapist for the first time can feel like a first date. If you don’t connect with your therapist on your first or second session, we’ll pair you with a new practitioner and your next session will be on the house* as part of our Perfect Match Promise.

*Terms and conditions apply.

Can I make an appointment for my child or dependent?

If you are the parent or legal guardian of a minor, you will need to make an appointment online or via the phone.

We have many psychologists, psychotherapists & counsellors who have experience dealing with children and adolescents in therapy. See who can help here.

Someone I know needs counselling. Can I book an appointment for them?

Those who require online counselling or therapy will have to make an appointment directly with The Indigo Project via our online booking form or on the phone. We do not accept bookings on behalf of an individual or couple from a third party unless as part of an insurance plan, support scheme or similar arrangement.

We want marriage or couples counselling. Can we see a couples counsellor together?

Couples are welcome to attend online therapy sessions together with one of our couples therapists.

Do I need to do anything before my first session?

We recommend setting up for your online therapy session 5-10 minutes before it commences. Make sure your computer or phone microphone and video is working, and that you are comfortable and ready to sit through your session uninterrupted.

There’s zero pressure to prepare anything for your first session but if you find it helpful, you can jot down some points about specific things you’d like to work on or discuss with your therapist.

Are my therapy sessions confidential?

Everything you discuss with your therapist here at Indigo is absolutely confidential, and will not be shared unless you or someone else is at risk of serious harm.

How do I pay for my online therapy session?

For first time clients, payment is made via debit or credit card at the time of booking. For returning clients, there are a number of payment methods available such as authorised direct debit or online via the payments link on your invoice.

Who to contact if you are in crisis

The Indigo Project is not a crisis service.

  • If you are in a crisis, if you are experiencing suicidal or homicidal thoughts, or somebody else is in danger, DO NOT use this service.
  • Call 000 or use these contacts for immediate crisis support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

Lifeline 13 11 14 - A crisis support and suicide prevention service for all Australians.

Mental Health Line 1800 011 511 - The Mental Health Line offers professional help and advice for everyone. Operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 - Beyond Blue provide support to address issues related to depression, suicide, anxiety disorders and other related mental illnesses.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 - A free service for people who are suicidal, caring for someone who is suicidal, bereaved by suicide or are health professionals supporting people affected by suicide.

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 - A counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25.

Parentline 1300 1300 52 - Parent Line is a free telephone counselling and support service for parents and carers with children aged 0 to 18 who live in NSW.

What else does The Indigo Project do?

Our courses, workshops and events are designed to transform the way you think, feel and live.

Not ready to commit to therapy? Indigo founder Mary Hoang has created Get Your Sh*t Together, a self-directed digital course for those who want to develop greater self-awareness, tackle stress and anxiety, and learn practical skills to help heal, grow and thrive in life.

Mary has also written a book Darkness is Golden: A Guide to Personal Transformation and Dealing with Life's Messiness that combines her experience in the therapy room with unique audio experiences framed by her research in music psychology.

Available for free download are a number of toolkits to help you combat your depression, deal with your anxiety or transform your relationships.

Although an online counselling practice, The Indigo Project believes in the power of community, and we often host events throughout the year. Keep an eye out for events such as Listen Up, a contemporary digital sound bath some describe as a “soundtracked therapy session”.

We are also available for corporate events, workshops and related projects. Please contact us at [email protected] if you’d like to know more.

View all FAQs

Check out Related Topics: