By | March 19, 2017 0 Comments

The Five Step Exit: Tools you need to leave a psychopath, narcissist or other toxic partner

Boyfriend looking at upset girlfriend sitting on end of bed at home in bedroom

You’re not happy with your intimate relationship — you’re feeling misunderstood, exploited, manipulated and devalued. But it’s complicated — finances, kids, social pressures, not to mention your own confusion. How do you sort out what to do?

The Five Step Exit course offers you a structured model to help you decide whether to hang in or get out. And if you decide that leaving is best, this course provides step-by-step guidelines for determining the best way to do it. Each step in the model includes specific goals and practices to help you do the difficult work of leaving an exploitative, abusive or toxic relationship. You’ll be able to establish your priorities, create a safety plan, and prepare for whatever may happen, including your ex’s attempts to reel you back in. That’s why the last stage of the model — recovery — is so important. You’ll learn how to reground yourself in your own life, desires and well-being.


  • Should you stay or should you go? Evaluating conflicting pressures
  • The Five Step Exit approach, with anchoring practices for each stage
  • Planning your exit, based on your knowledge of your partner and yourself
  • Protecting your priorities and minimizing the risk of violence
  • Recovery and reinvention after the breakup

About the instructor

Amber Ault, Ph.D., MSW, is a clinical sociologist, psychotherapist, and trainer based in Madison, Wisconsin, specializing in coaching both heterosexual and LGBT partners of  people with Cluster B personality patterns. Her academic areas of expertise include LGBT culture, intimate partner violence, and the history of psychiatric diagnoses; her clinical specializations include suicide risk assessment, crisis intervention, trauma treatment, and supporting partners who have survived toxic relationships. She is the author of The Wise Lesbian Guide to Getting Free From Crazy-Making Relationships and The Five Step Exit: Skills You Need to Leave a Narcissist, Psychopath, or Other Toxic Partner and Recover Your Happiness Now.  

Dr. Ault has taught in the School of Social Work and in the Departments of Sociology and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She offers on-line and on-the-ground workshops and courses in relationship recovery and LGBTQ dating and healthy relationship formation through She earned her Ph.D. in sociology from Ohio State University and her MSW from the University of Wisconsin. She holds a Wisconsin certified advanced practice social work license.

Cost and credits

The cost for this course is only $25 for 60 minutes of instruction. Once you purchase the course, you can access it online as long and as often as you want.

Although this course does not award continuing education credits, you will be able to download a certificate of achievement upon completion.

Learning objectives

  • How to evaluate the difficulty of extricating yourself, the rewards of great partnership, and the choice to stay or go.
  • If you decide to leave, how to use the Five Step model for the best possible exit
  • Creating a support system to help you through the transition
  • How to deal skillfully with pushback and threats from your partner
  • Practices you can use with each step to help you through the process

Program Agenda

55 minutes of instruction

  • Who will benefit form this program?
  • Staying vs. leaving
  • The Five Step Exit Stages
  • Step 1 – Contemplation
    • Examples of contemplative practices
    • Goals of contemplation
  • The Five Step Exit Stages
  • Step 2 – Preparation
    • Preparation resources
    • Goals of preparation
  • Step 3 – Execution
    • Approach variations
    • Goals of the execution phase
  • Step 4 – Improvisation in the face of pushback
    • Skills during improvisation
    • Goals of improvisation
  • Step 5 – Recovery
    • Keys to recovery

Here is a preview of this course:


Should you stay or should you go? When it’s time to leave your toxic relationship, the Five Step Exit enables you to do it. You’ll strategize the best possible exit, prepare for pushback from you ex, and learn practices to promote your emotional recovery.

Sign up for this course now

Course Materials

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