Co-dependency Therapy

 Co-dependency Therapy
Co-dependency refers to a psychological trait involving an unhealthy relationship that people might share with those closest to them.

It was originally thought to involve families of substance abuse but has since grown to include other types of dysfunctional relationships. Let’s try now to understand how it can affect people, how to recognize signs of co-dependency, and resources for learning more about and overcoming co-dependency.

What Is A Co-dependent Personality Disorder?

Co-dependency is a psychological concept that refers to people who feel extreme amounts of dependence on certain loved ones in their lives, and who feel responsible for the feelings and actions of those loved ones. Co-dependency is not recognized as a distinct personality disorder.

That said, research shows that while co-dependency does overlap with other personality disorders, it does appear to constitute a distinct psychological construct. The best way to learn about co-dependency is to review some of the signs of co-dependency.

Signs Of Co-dependency

What does co-dependency actually look like? Some of the things that have been found to correlate with co-dependency include:

  • Low self-esteem;
  • Low levels of narcissism;
  • Familial dysfunction;
  • Depression;
  • Anxiety;
  • Stress;
  • Low emotional expressivity.
  • Having a hard time saying no;
  • Having poor boundaries;
  • Showing emotional reactivity;
  • Feeling compelled to take care of people;
  • Having a need for control, especially over others;
  • Having trouble communicating honestly;
  • Fixating on mistakes;
  • Feeling a need to be liked by everyone;
  • Feeling a need to always be in a relationship;
  • Denying one’s own needs, thoughts, and feelings;
  • Having intimacy issues;
  • Confusing love and pity;
  • Displaying fear of abandonment.
A Take-Home Message

For years, the concept of co-dependency has been criticized for being ill-defined, but over the last few decades, the construct of co-dependency has become more well-defined and well-researched, as it has been fitted with an empirical base.

Most importantly, co-dependency has been recognized as a relationship dynamic that affects people with all sorts of childhood trauma, not just the children or spouses of alcoholics or substance abusers.

For people who are co-dependent, there are plenty of ways to overcome co-dependency. Aside from seeking professional help, there are all sorts of worksheets and books (such as the ones highlighted above) by people who have overcome co-dependency. The most important thing to remember is that while everyone has loved ones and feels responsible for those loved ones, it can be unhealthy when one hinges their identity on someone else. Everyone is responsible for their own actions and feelings.

What is your experience with co-dependency?

Are there relationships in your life in which you or the other person tend to exhibit co-dependencies?

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