What is Codependency?
Codependency is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual's ability to maintain healthy, mutually satisfying relationships. Rather, these relationships are many times one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive. Codependency is a learned behavior that is passed down from one generation to the next and typically arises from a dysfunctional family.
A dysfunctional family is one in which the members suffer from fear, anger, pain or shame that is ignored or denied. Dysfunctional families do not acknowledge that problems exist. Because they do not talk or confront these problems, family members learn to repress emotions and disregard their own needs. They develop behaviors that help them deny or avoid difficult emotions. They lose contact with their own needs, desires and sense of self.
Common Symptoms of Codependency:
- An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others
- A tendency to "love" people they can pity and rescue
- A tendency to do more than their share, all of the time
- A tendency to become hurt when others do not recognize their efforts
- An unhealthy attachment and dependence on relationships to avoid feelings of abandonment
- An extreme need for approval and recognition
- A sense of guilt when asserting oneself
- A compelling need to control others
- Lack of trust in others and self
- Fear of being abandoned or alone
- Difficulty identifying feelings
- Difficulty adjusting to change
- Problems with intimacy/boundaries
- Chronic anger
- Poor communication ability
- Difficulty making decisions
How can Counseling/Therapy help?
Because codependency is rooted in an individual's childhood experiences, treatment many times involves exploring early childhood issues and their relationship with current unhelpful or destructive behaviors. Treatment includes education, rediscovering oneself and identifying self-defeating thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In addition, a focus on reconstructing family dynamics is helpful in the healing process.