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can a narcissist really change

Can a Narcissist Really Change?

Dr. David B. Hawkins, Director of The Marriage Recovery Center, talks about misconceptions about the treatment of Narcissists. Many believe that those with NPD cannot change, but Dr. Hawkins explains that many have narcissistic traits on the continuum of NPD symptoms, and CAN change with appropriate intervention. So can a narcissist really change? The key is accountability for involvement in intensive individual and couples counseling–which you can do!!

Can a Narcissist Really Change?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) has garnered significant interest, and there is often misinformation surrounding this disorder. It is crucial to bring clarity to the issue and provide insights into whether a narcissist can genuinely change. In this article, we will explore four main points that shed light on NPD and the potential for transformation. By understanding the spectrum of narcissistic traits, the role of intervention, the importance of counseling, and the significance of persistence, we can gain a better understanding of whether change is possible for individuals with NPD.

NPD is on a Spectrum

NPD exists on a spectrum, ranging from mild narcissistic traits to severe narcissistic personality disorder. It is essential to recognize that not all individuals with narcissistic traits exhibit extreme behavior. Understanding this spectrum allows us to measure and address the severity of the disorder accurately. While extreme cases pose significant challenges, milder manifestations of narcissism may indicate the potential for change.

The Role of Intervention

Many clinicians assert that the past behavior of a narcissist is the best predictor of future behavior. However, this assertion overlooks the impact of intervention. Interventions, such as therapy and treatment programs, can lead to transformation and alter the course of an individual’s behavior. With the right support and a willingness to change, a narcissist can break free from the patterns that defined their past actions.

The Power of Counseling

An effective intervention for individuals with NPD involves a combination of individual and couples counseling. While individual therapy allows narcissists to present themselves favorably, couples counseling creates a space where empathy, validation, and emotional connection can be fostered. This combination facilitates self-reflection and encourages growth. A narcissist’s willingness to participate in counseling serves as an indication of their potential for change. Couples counseling, in particular, plays a significant role in fostering emotional awareness and relationship improvement.

Insisting on Counseling

When dealing with a narcissistic partner or loved one, it is crucial not to be deterred if they initially resist counseling. Insisting on intensive counseling, especially couples counseling, can be an effective way to address NPD traits. It is important to understand that underneath their tough exterior, narcissists have a vulnerable side and a deep need for relationships. By drawing a firm boundary and emphasizing the value of the relationship, a narcissist may be motivated to engage in counseling and subsequently experience personal growth and transformation.


While the perception of narcissism often carries a sense of hopelessness, it is essential to consider the potential for change. NPD exists on a spectrum, and individuals with narcissistic traits may be capable of transformation through the intervention of counseling and therapy. By recognizing the power of intervention and understanding the significance of couples counseling, we can foster empathy, emotional connection, and behavior change.

Persistence, both in insisting on counseling and supporting the process, can lead to positive outcomes. While change may not be easy, it is possible for many individuals with NPD traits to embark on a journey of personal growth and improve their relationships.

To learn how we can help, reach out to us at (206) 219-0145 or info@marriagerecoverycenter.com to speak with a Client Care Specialist

Also read: How to Deal With a Narcissist Spouse

About Dr. Hawkins:

The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.

Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.

He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.

In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.


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