Codependency, sometimes referred to as “relationship addiction," describes sacrificing one’s personal needs to try to meet the needs of others. Although it is often associated with romantic relationships, codependency can be experienced in all types of close relationships, including with family and friendships.  Someone who is codependent has an extreme focus outside themselves. Their thoughts and actions revolve around other people, such as a spouse or relative or they build their identity on helping or “saving” other people. Codependents typically experience feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety and insecurity in these relationships and may also experience perfectionism and control issues. Codependent symptoms can worsen if left untreated. If you are worried that you might be codependent, reach out to one of TherapyDen’s codependency experts today!

Meet the specialists

Loving someone who experiences addiction or other compulsive behaviors can be painful. Work in this area includes learning how to support your loved one without enabling the addiction. Education, setting boundaries, and shifting focus back to your own needs are areas of focus for recovery.

— Madeleine Shaver, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Savannah, GA

Our therapists are incredible in helping you you shift out of meeting everyone else's needs but your own. We'll help you find the balance between selfless to self-care.

— Bright Spot Therapy, Clinical Social Worker in Farmington Hills, MI

Codependency is a condition in which individuals attempt to and believe that if they control people, places, and situations, they can derive a sense of self-worth. It resembles an addiction to taking care of the needs and the problems of another person. In fact, many of the people I’ve worked with who are in these types of codependent relationships find themselves feeling, in many cases, what can be described as classic signs of addiction.

— Ellen Biros, Counselor in SUWANEE, GA

This is a big one for me. Because I have seen it a lot in the women I work with, particularly when it comes to the caretakers and/or the people pleasers. If you have trouble saying no, take responsibility for other people's emotions and shortcomings, have low self-worth, have trouble being honest and open, deny your own feelings, thoughts, and needs, and need to be liked by everyone, you may very well suffer from codependency in one or more of your relationships. I can help you get YOU back.

— Amanda Hannon, in Newnan, GA

I identify as a person in long-term recovery from codependency. I write, study, and lead groups and workshops on codependency recovery. I have worked with clients dealing with codependency for over seven years.

— D.J. Burr, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in , WA

Tired of trying to help people who won't get help? Want to make changes in your own life but snagged by the needs of those closest to you? You may be suffering from codependency, a habitual way of being what puts you in the back seat of your own life. Because codependency is a habit, not a trait, it can be unlearned with the right tools and the inspiration to use them. You have the right to create your own best life, whether others change or not. Call me today!

— Cheryl Deaner, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco,

The ability to set & maintain healthy boundaries is important to an individual's self-esteem. It is also crucial when seeking a healthy relationship, whether that relationship is with a spouse/partner, child, or friend. Often, mental health issues such as alcohol abuse, addiction, depression or bipolar disorder can lead to a caretaker or family member struggling to maintain healthy boundaries. In counseling, I can assist individuals & families in being supportive while not enabling.

— Melissa Barton, Licensed Professional Counselor in Katy, TX

Often times my clients accept responsibility for others' feelings and behaviors, leaving the feeling drained, guilty, and resentful. I help my clients identify areas of overfunctioning in relationships, develop a strong self-concept, implement boundaries, and learn how to nurture & care for themselves. Though they are scared and fearful at first, my clients love learning to empower themselves and how to love others without it being at the expense of themselves.

— Cynthia Goeller, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in ,

We live in a culture that overtly and subtly encourages us to fixate on the needs of others, to the detriment of our own wellbeing. Codependency exists pervasively, and on a spectrum, inside all of us. I'm here to help you develop healthy boundaries and empathy for yourself, so that your connections to others can come from an authentic, energizing and expansive-feeling place within yourself, rather than causing strife. Your relationships should ---and can--- energize and inspire you!

— Katy Bullick, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Oakland, CA

I work with clients to help them see how they contribute to co-dependent relationships, where they learned it, and support them to help break the cycle.

— Stuart Malkin, Counselor in Portland, OR

If "they" are happy, you're happy. If "they" are upset, you're a mess and feel like you have to "make it all better". Maybe you just can't tolerate the idea of your child(ten) being unhappy. Sound familiar? If so, you might be struggling with co-dependency. Setting emotionally boundaries can be hard and can feel really scary. There are lots of reasons why codependency has ruled your life but with guidance you can learn to set the boundaries that set you free of pain and guilt.

— Lisa Dyck, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Westlake Village, CA

I have taught groups and counseling many people on this issue, and regularly utilize Melodie Beattie's resources (among others) in guiding people into a personal understanding of what it is, how it manifests itself in their lives, where it comes from, and how to begin changing it.

— Aaron Potratz, Counselor in Tigard, OR

Have you become lost to yourself? Do you know your own likes/dislikes? Codependency is when you create your daily life around how other people think, feel and act. You're not sure of your own feelings and beliefs so you infuse yourself into what others do. It is a disease often described as "The Lost Self". It deprives you of vitality, spontaneity and self-fulfillment. You begin to resent others for the life they have while being angry at the life you don't have - but desperately desire.

— Cindy Eldridge, Counselor in Kansas City, MO

The balance between being connected to someone and taking a stand requires courage, strength and hope. Growing up in an alcoholic environment gave me a first hand understanding. In my own journey I've gained wisdom, understanding and practices that have enabled me to grow in strength and joy.

— John Loppnow, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in La Canada, CA

Living with addiction, whether your own, a parent, or a loved one, it can be a painful and confusing experience. Often times those around the person suffering with the addiction can wonder if they are crazy and don't know which decisions are best suited to helping themselves or the ones they love. I have worked with clients to help them rediscover their power and ability to advocate for their own well-being amidst the chaos often created by addiction. Give me a call to schedule an appointment.

— Felicia Kampf, Drug & Alcohol Counselor in Reno, NV

We often find it difficult to realize our own co-dependency, whether created during childhood or as adults. Living a Co-dependent life allows a person to give their own power away continuously, never realizing their own potential, gifts, strengths and inherent worth. Self-love and love for others should have a healthy balance, and nothing is more beautiful than to see a person become more self aware to love own self as is.

— Shay Phillips, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Cypress, TX

We all depend on other people--especially our partners! And this is a good thing. But sometimes that dependency can start to feel stifling or restrictive. An unhealthy dependency can occur at times in most relationships. Together we can sort out the issues that are of concern for you and your partner and strengthen your relationship by deepening your connection with yourself and each other.

— C.J. Sanders, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Intern in Portland, OR

This one can be tough to spot, I sure didn't realize I used to be codependent. Signs: People pleasing, putting other's needs before your own, struggles with self-care (feeling guilty if you spent time or money on yourself - ex. getting a massage), having difficulty saying no, having trouble setting or enforcing boundaries, always needing the approval of others, uneasy if someone is upset with you, you would rather be uncomfortable than make someone else feel uncomfortable, difficulty asserting.

— Patti Sabla, Therapist in , FL

The unwavering need to please others at your own expense resulting in anger & resentment. The inability to say no & when you try you experience intense guilt & shame. The need to save others from themselves & the responsibility of their actions. This is codependency. A terrible disease that I have battled throughout my life. It wasn’t until I went through my own healing journey that I was able to learn to accept the truth of my story, embrace my imperfections & believe I am good enough.

— Monique LCSW, Clinical Social Worker in Little Rock, AR

We will explore your history of relationship “traumas,” including feelings of guilt, shame, and other struggles that tend to be characteristic of someone that has a tendency to put others needs ahead of their own needs. We’ll talk about and work on incorporating skills that can help you with these challenges depending on where you’re at, such as how to set healthy boundaries for yourself and establish a foundation of healthy self-care.

— Katie Lunden, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Seattle, WA

Codependency is a self-defeating pattern of behavior - a tendency to act in overly passive, caretaking and controlling ways that can cause resentment, negative impact on your relationships, and diminish your quality of life. It is simply too little focus on your own needs and too much focus on caring for others. The first steps in overcoming codependency are to become more aware of your needs, to learn your true value, and to take responsibility for creating an enriching and satisfying life.

— Angela Hasty, Clinical Psychologist in Berkeley, CA

Trying to constantly conform to the demands of those we love can be stress producing. Setting boundaries is scary for the co dependent because fear of rejection is greater than the pain or stress. Finding a way to reduce the stress and find a safe limit is a magical moment for clients and I am honored to walk with them in their journey.

— Anna (Kit) Bolliger, Counselor in Asheboro, NC

Relationships are hard! Many of us did not grow up in healthy or supportive households and are still grappling with insecure/anxious attachement which continues to impact our ability to connect romantically. Intimacy can feel overwhelming or downright impossible. Love addiction and love avoidance are challenges I can help you overcome.

— Laura Ostrow, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Alameda, CA

Sometimes we help others because we have made a choice, a decision to do so. Sometimes, though, it can get to a point where we stretch all our resources to the limit, perhaps giving way too much. In the process we can lose ourselves, forgetting that we need care and nurturing in order to be of any real help to others. It is possible to be TOO helpful, to enable a loved one or loved ones to be addicted, or irresponsible or impulsive, because we are constantly coming behind, cleaning up the messes and making all the consequences go away. In the end it does not help our loved one and we wind up paying a huge price in our own poor physical or mental health. I help people feel safe and welcome as we explore this pattern and begin to move toward health and life and feeling better.

— Diana Walla, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in West Lake Hills, TX

Relationships are hard -- especially when you feel your life completely revolves around someone else's. Ever felt like you're having a great day, but if your partner is having a horrible one, you automatically take on their demeanor? Do you feel you rely on your partner more than "normal?" Breaking codependency takes work -- we'll work to increase your self-esteem and self-worth, so you can confidently be who you want to be, independent of other's emotions. Years working with codependency: 10.

— Shelby Schrader, Licensed Professional Counselor