Counseling for Codependency—Relationship Coaches and Therapists in Harrisburg, PA
Clichés often become common terms because they capture a truth of our experiences. Take, for example, the idea of too much of a good thing. We know that too much ice cream, too much vacation, even too much exercise can cause trouble. The same holds for helping out our friends and family members. How can that be when help and support are integral parts of any healthy relationship? When help becomes unbalanced, when one person shields another from their own actions, when one person enables another’s bad behavior, helping may have become too much of a good thing. It’s such a common occurrence that there is even a term for it: codependency. Think about Annie’s story.
Annie’s pride and joy in life is being a mother. Regardless of how her son grows, he will always be her little boy. Annie prides herself on being there for her son—no matter what. He’s in his young 20s now, and having a hard time. Annie is paying his rent and tuition. He could have finished his degree, but every time he nears graduation, he changes his major. Annie is frustrated, but she tells herself that he is just finding his way. If she were not there to support him, who would be? He has expressed a desire to become a ski instruction, but Annie wants to give her son opportunities she never had. She wants him to get his degree.
Without question, Annie loves her son. Her actions, however, may not be helping him. Annie may be codependent, and her help may be too much of a good thing. Despite her good intentions, Annie may be hurting her son and herself. Codependency is an unhealthy way of relating to loved ones, but healthier, more positive ways of relating can be learned. Many people are working with a therapist or a counselor to learn how.
“A codependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.”
—Melody Beattie, Codependent No More
Thriveworks Harrisburg offers counseling for codependency. We have helped many clients learn how to help without hurting their loved ones or themselves.
What Are Codependent Behaviors?
People who are codependent may subconsciously or intentionally choose to enter into relationship with others who have a record of irresponsible choices, an addiction, or a serious medical illness. Codependent people find others who have high needs, and they may try to fix them. As codependents focus upon other people, they usually neglect their own emotional, physical, or financial health, putting themselves at risk.
Codependency can form in any kind of relationship—marriages, friendships, parent-child relationships, and even at work. When parents are co-dependent, they may teach their children to need them instead of encouraging them to be independent.
When first in a relationship, codependents may seem kind and selfless. They form connections based upon how they can serve and help other people, but their actions are often motivated from their deep sense of shame and feelings of incompetency. Fixing other people becomes a way for codependent to distract themselves from their own problems. Thus, they are rarely able to truly help their loved ones or themselves. Codependency can cause deep wounds, and it is important to recognize it. Here are some red flags for codependency:
- People-pleasing tendencies: Codependents take responsibility for how other people feel. If their loved ones are upset, angry, or disappointed, they will feel responsible. If their loved ones are happy, satisfied, or content, they will take credit.
- Low self-esteem: Shame, inadequacy, guilt, and incompetency are feelings that plague codependent people and drive their actions. Codependents may respond to these feelings by telling themselves that what they do for others will lead to feeling loved, accepted, and competent.
- Poor communication skills: Fear can keep codependent people from sharing their true thoughts, feelings, and needs. They often have difficulty communicating because they are afraid that they will upset their loved ones.
- No/few boundaries: Codependent people rarely say, “no.” Even when requests are inappropriate or put them at risk, codependents may honor anything requested.
- Caretaking: While codependents neglect their own needs, they often fulfill others’ needs, even without being asked. Helping is a codependent’s identity. If people refuse their help, codependents may take it as a personal rejection.
- Dependency: Codependent need their loved ones. They greatly fear abandonment and rejection. The song lyrics describe this well, “I need you to need me.” Barbara Johnson described the dependency this way, “Being codependent means that when you die, someone else’s life passes before your eyes.”
- Minimization: Fixing other people is fundamentally a way for codependent people to minimize and deny their own personal problems. Instead of acknowledging and working through their own issues, they distract themselves with other people’s problems. They often have difficulty seeing the harm this can cause in their own lives and in the lives of their loved ones.
Appointments for Codependency at Thriveworks Harrisburg
When you read through the description of codependency, did you recognize any of the signs? If you did, know that it is possible to find healthier ways to relate. Know that self-care is not selfish. Know that your thoughts, feelings, and needs are important. Thriveworks Harrisburg has helped many people find healing from their codependency, and we have appointments available.
When you contact our office, you may have your first appointment the following day. We also accept many forms of insurance. Let’s work together. Call Thriveworks Harrisburg today.