Codependency and Dependent Personality Disorder Therapy in Westminster, CO
Sarah’s husband is a borderline alcoholic. Sarah not only takes care of the children, but also calls in to work for her husband if he’s unable to get out of bed in the morning. She cooks him breakfast that will not irritate his stomach after a night of heavy drinking. Sarah’s behavior serves two problematic functions: it enables her husband to continue his destructive habits, and it perpetuates her belief that being needed by others at the cost of ignoring one’s own needs is the best way to receive love.
Westminster Codependency and Dependency Counseling
At Thriveworks Westminster, our therapists have helped a number of patients through codependency and dependency counseling. Because codependency often involves caring for other people, it can be difficult to acknowledge as a problem, but it’s important to do so for one’s own health and wellbeing. By taking care of the self, one can then more effectively care for others. In regard to dependency counseling, the aim is similar. Our therapists will work with you to learn self-sufficiency and self-efficacy skills that will allow you to become independent.
What is the difference between dependency and codependency?
First, let’s define healthy dependency in a relationship. In a healthy relationship, “each party is able to comfortably rely on the other for help, understanding, and support” (Seltzer). However, relationships that have an unhealthy type of dependence are detrimental. In these relationships, one party relies on another to fill their needs, and associates that action with love. Ideally, that person would instead be self-reliant, able to fulfill their own needs and wants, and rely on their partner for assistance and support as needed.
Codependent relationships are a bit different. In codependent relationships, at least one of the parties “…needs to be needed [by the other party] if they’re to feel okay about themselves” (Seltzer). In other words, in codependent relationships one of the people is so wrapped up in being needed or approved of by the other person that they are neglectful of their own needs. Take Sarah in the opening example. Though it’s an outwardly altruistic goal to assist her husband in his struggle with alcohol, two problems come from her behavior. The first problem is Sarah’s. Sarah may feel she is helping her husband, but by doing so—by performing actions that cushion his life, like cooking certain foods, calling in to work for him, and performing extra work at home to make up for his inaction—she is subjugating her own needs. To be mentally healthy and therefore have the best chance at a successful, happy life with strong relationships, Sarah must learn to feel comfortable realizing and acting on her desires for her life instead of simply catering to her husband.
The second problem is that Sarah is enabling her husband. Her actions of “help” actually allow him to continue his behavior. Were he not catered to, he might more quickly find himself in a situation serious enough to make him decide to address his problems. Now, it’s worth pointing out that not every codependent relationship also involves an addiction or enabling situation, but it is a frequent occurrence.
What are the ramifications of codependency and dependency?
In dependent relationships, one person may not be very self-reliant. Instead, they rely on the other person to do many tasks that one would normally do for themselves, from the basics of paying bills to making complex decisions like deciding which new vehicle to purchase. The dependent person associates these actions with love. Without their partner’s willingness to go above and beyond to meet their needs, they feel unloved.
Similarly, in a codependent relationship, one subconsciously associates being needed with being loved. Often, this relates back to a childhood in which they witnessed or were taught that love means giving up your own needs and wants for someone else.
But why does any of this matter? There’s nothing wrong with helping your partner, friend, or family member, right? Of course not. Helping others, particularly those we’re close to, is an intimate act that can bond us more closely with the other person and make us feel needed, both of which are valuable. However, counseling for codependency and dependency is valuable because often people in these situations are sacrificing pursuit of their own desires and happiness for someone else’s. The codependent person wants the approval of their partner, and the dependent person sacrifices self-efficacy because they think it will make them more lovable.
How does counseling for codependency and dependency help?
In counseling for codependency and dependency, our therapists work with patients to determine what underlying beliefs or experiences are manifesting in the person’s relationship behaviors. Those underlying beliefs frequently stem from how the person experienced love from parents or other close caregivers during childhood. Once any issues from childhood are addressed, the person may begin to detach from unhealthy relationships. This does not mean abandoning friends or family in need, but rather, learning to take care of oneself by setting appropriate boundaries. Setting boundaries can be difficult for anyone, so it’s helpful to have a therapist experienced in codependency or dependency therapy present to help as you walk through the shift.
Contact Thriveworks Westminster for Codependency and Dependency Counseling
Thriveworks Westminster is home to some of the best therapists in the field. Our therapists know that counseling for codependency and dependency can help improve lives. If you even suspect that you’re in a relationship with one of these dynamics in play, give us a call. Therapy has helped many lead fuller, more mentally healthy lives, and it can help you too. Our office does not have a waiting list.
Seltzer, Leon F. PhD. “Codependent or Simply Dependent: What’s the Big Difference?” December, 2014. PsychologyToday.com.