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

I really enjoy working with clients who have a hard time saying "no". As we look into the makings of the pattern of "external compliance and internal defiance", clients begin to learn how to work with the Fear, Obligation and Guilt (F.O.G.) that comes with codependent behavior. I love helping clients dive into the personal beliefs about why we can't say "no", and unraveling those beliefs so we can decide for ourselves what is important and what isn't. Watching clients feel the weight of emotional, mental and physical responsibility dissolve, and witnessing their empowerment and personal freedom never gets old! It may take some time to work with the underlying factors that contribute to people pleasing, but its possible to begin to prioritize yourself without guilt. Its been work I have done personally and work I have seen professionally. Finding your voice, your preferences and your confidence is life changing!

— Vicki Smith, Licensed Professional Counselor in Atlanta, GA

Low Self-esteem, people pleasing, caregiving, poor boundaries and a need for control are all symptoms of codependency. In fact, many people are codependent and don't even realize it! Often times these traits were learnt in childhood and have now turned into coping styles that we think will get our needs met. Whether you were raised by an ill parent or a dysfunctional family, or just want to work on being more independent, we will work together on bringing the focus back to you and your needs.

— Roxanna Saremi, Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

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,

If you have trouble with needing to externally focus on other and have a hard time focusing on and caring for yourself, I can help. I have worked with many individuals to help them to reconnect with their wants, needs and learn to keep the focus on themselves. Codependenc

— Celine Redfield, Marriage & Family Therapist in Portland, OR

I see this come up with both men and women of all ages. I see it as serving a function, however often it gets in the way of your real goals. I'll work with you to tease apart this tendency and replace it with more adaptive strategies.

— Jenn Kennedy, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Santa Barbara, CA

Codependency is the worst! Am I right? When you fall in love with someone you want to feel excited and happy and filled with optimism. You don't want to feel anxious and nervous and obsessed with when you'll see them next or how much they really like you. I want to talk to you if codependent feelings have been haunting you you're whole life. Together we can figure out where they are coming from and why they keep popping up. I've got tons of tools and techniques for coping with your codependent feelings. Our goal will be to leave your codependent experiences in the past so that you can enjoy falling in love and feel a lot more secure in your relationships.

— Jeff Guenther, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

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

Do you stay in unhealthy relationships far too long and don’t know why? Do you tend to be a people-pleaser? Do you sometimes feel alone and unworthy? Are you very comfortable in the “caretaker” role with friends, family, your partner and feel overly responsible for other’s problems? Do you struggle with letting people help you? Do you struggle setting boundaries with others? Codependency is a strategy we learn as children to deal with these life stressors. Without help, we may continue to feel burdened, lack self-love, and in a lot of pain in many of our relationships into adulthood. I enjoy helping clients understand and have compassion for these traits in themselves, so that they can transform them into healthy and empowered choices. Through our work together, you can create more balanced, rewarding and successful relationships in your life.

— Jon Fox, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

The key to healthy intimacy is learning how to love another person deeply without losing our connection to ourselves. It is about cultivating our own uniqueness (our ever-evolving shapes, beliefs, values and desires) in relationship to our intimate partners. Relationships bring to life two of our most basic drives as human beings: our longing for togetherness and our need for individuality. There are times when we feel pressured to give up one or both of those desires to maintain a sense of control or harmony in the relationship. The results can be devastating, leading to codependent behaviors, and the deterioration of both our partnerships and our individual growth.

— Pilar Dellano, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

Are you tired of feeling drained by the people who you love? Self care is so important and usually at the bottom of your to do list. I can help you balance your priorities so they make sense.

— Sandy Demopoulos, Clinical Social Worker in White Plains, NY

Codependency is a sly disguise of a life well lived. Everyone wants to feel a degree of love, want and need in their life - codependent relationships can fulfill those areas but it’s too often unstable and leads to a predictable pattern of dysfunction. This pattern is not healthy and therefore the persons involved fail to grow.

— Veronika Noble, Marriage & Family Therapist in Carlsbad, CA

•Are you a people pleaser? •Do you take better care of other people than you do yourself? •Do you change yourself because you fear rejection or distrust your own decisions and feelings? •Do you try to fix and control people, places, and things? •Do you pretend to agree when you really disagree? ••Do you obsess about other people by thinking about them, feeling anxious about them, and checking up on them? •Do you often conceal your true feelings? •Do you find yourself going along with an activity

— Dana McNeil, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Diego, 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

Do you find that you always have to be with someone? That their life seemingly becomes more important to you than your own? Do you find that you feel taken advantage of by others often? If so, you may be dealing with a learned behavior known as codependency and like any learned behavior, it can be replaced by learning greater, more effective coping skills that take away your fear of rejection, abandonment and self-loathing. My approach is ideally suited to teaching those news skills.

— Jamie Fister, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Mission Viejo, CA

Codependency stems from many factors, and likely can be traced back to experiences in your past. Together we will explore your learned behaviors and thoughts that contribute to your choices that keep you stuck in unhealthy relationships. It all starts with self-love and compassion.

— Kesha Martin, Counselor in San Antonio, TX

No is not a four letter word, even if you were raised to think it was. I love helping people lay claim to their borders, reconnect with their own wishes, and establish awesome and flexible boundaries to protect their own interests. People-pleasing, also known as codependency or anxious attachment, can wreck havoc on a life. It can also be changed. I have studied attachment and codependency for the last 13 years.

— Ann Stoneson, Licensed Professional Counselor in Austin, TX

Often individuals with emotional intensity and depth struggle with their own sense of grounding, either in their current relationships, in childhood with a narcissistic parent, or perhaps both. This can result in the common AA term, "codependency". For codependents, assertiveness can feel like the "enemy" but when learned is the key to long-lasting healing and improved self-esteem, and supports the health and growth of ALL participants in the relationship.

— Lisa Wheeler, Licensed Professional Counselor in Austin, TX

While I’m not a huge fan of the term codependency, it is one of the most recognized terms for the dysfunction that occurs when boundaries between you and those around you are blurred to the point of high stress and even crisis. We are better for ourselves and for those we love and support when we have a clear understanding of where we begin and end and another person begins. Boundaries don’t shut people out. They allow us the safety to truly let safe and loving people in, and I am passionate about helping clients find the clarity needed to build safe, flexible, compassionate boundaries that allow each of them depth and meaning in relationships without losing a sense of self or giving too much of the self. When we learn healthy boundaries, we learn how to let people grow into their own understanding of self and internalize their own lessons.

— Brandice Schnabel, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in North Canton, OH

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

Did you know another fancy, psychotherapy word for codependency is "enmeshment?" You're going to kick ass at your next round of Scrabble! If you go to my blog you can read all about it. I am currently not up to paraphrasing. You're probably not reading this anyway. Nice shirt!

— Wendy Curtis, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

Are you the one who always takes care of everything? Have you had to do things for yourself most of your life? "Codependency" is a big word that doesn't have to involve substance abuse. Ironically, its most common subjects describe themselves as "independent." If thinking about someone else's problems occupies more of your time than you'd like, let's talk.

— Kathryn Gates, Marriage & Family Therapist in Austin, TX

Codependency is a controversial term, but I chose this one in my profile because I believe many people define codependency as engaging in a relationship that is to some degree unhealthy or toxic for them - and I do find that these clients often find me and work well with me. Many of my clients have suffered or are suffering from being in relationship with a highly narcissistic family member or partner. There is a dysfunctional type of arrangement in these relationships, wherein the narcissist exploits the "codependent" other, who willingly (if not always consciously) sacrifices his/her own wellbeing in service of pleasing or taming the narcissist. The codependent person often suffers incredible loss of self-esteem and trust in him- or herself, which tends to perpetuate and deepen the dynamic. This is very painful and complex situation, and therapy is a must. Please do not suffer alone if this description resonates with you!

— Maysie Tift, MFT, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Rafael, CA

When your relationship with yourself is unconscious or wounded, you lack a stable center. Your boundaries are necessarily distorted when your center is off. I’ve immersed myself in recovery from codependency, and view it on the spectrum of attachment relatef trauma.

— Elizabeth Ostolozaga, Clinical Social Worker in Rapid City, SD