Many people question if the narcissist in their life can control their behavior and whether or not counseling would be beneficial for them. Unfortunately the research suggests that people with very strong narcissistic traits typically don’t change even if they actively engage in therapy. Narcissists tend to be deeply insecure and highly sensitive to criticism which limits their ability to use counseling productively.
One of the most crazy-making and confusing things about having a relationship with a narcissist is that their treatment of you may vacillate rapidly between nice, outright cruel, or unkind in a more insidious, cunning way. They may say and do things in ways so subtle that you question whether or not it even happened. This results in you feeling awful, yet you may struggle to concretely explain to someone else why it was so awful. Narcissists do this by design. It results in their victim questioning their own thinking and feelings, concluding that they are just being overly sensitive, and continuing to allow the narcissist to get away with it.
How do we know that narcissists can control their behavior? They do so any time that they want if it meets their needs. Most narcissists are very concerned with appearing favorably to the outside world. They can be completely charming, pleasant, and agreeable when it helps them to get what they want. This clearly implies control over their behavior. It may be unrealistic to expect that someone with narcissistic characteristics will change. The only thing that can definitively change is the strategy that you use to interact with them.