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720 | Narcissistic Relationship Dynamics: How to Recognize Them and Intervene Effectively

Christian Psychology: Theory, Practice, and Integration, Saturday 9/16 2:15 – 3:30, Workshop Tracks


Kerry Marsh, Ph.D.



Approved For CE

Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers

Approved For CME/CEU




Narcissists are well known for their ability to create relational difficulty, especially in long-term relationships (Lavner et al., 2016; Leckelt et al., 2015). Partners of narcissistic individuals frequently present in therapy due to relational turmoil. Licensed mental health professionals must understand the relational dynamics created by this personality style and the unique suffering experienced by their partners (Campbell & Campbell, 2009). This workshop analyzes narcissistic relationship dynamics so licensed mental health professionals can recognize the pattern when clients describe it. When examining narcissism relationally, clinicians need to recognize how narcissistic individuals present socially (Seidman, 2016), their short-term and long-term relational functioning, and the effects of narcissistic admiration and rivalry traits on narcissistic relationships long term (Leunissen et al., 2017; Wurst et al., 2017). This presentation considers the types of partners narcissistic individuals tend to choose and whether these pairings result in happy, successful relationships (Keller et al., 2014; Marsh, 2020). Implications for mental health professionals desiring to offer specific, sensitive help to partners of narcissistic individuals are presented.

Learning Objectives

1. Analyze the unique relational dynamics of narcissistic relationships as they present in the counseling setting so clients involved in these relationships feel understood
2. Describe the types of partners chosen by narcissistic individuals to assess the likelihood of a favorable relational outcome for the client
3. Apply their understanding of narcissistic relationships to specific interventions that help partners of narcissistic individuals heal and thrive
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