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

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

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, LMFT, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Rafael, CA

Living with a person who is addicted to alcohol or drugs is a lonely, terrifying experience. Often, when the person is “high functioning” and manages to have a job, home, family, family members and other loved ones feel crazy…they wonder if it’s really “that bad.” You’ve tried various ways to get them to stop. Maybe you’ve tried to limit access to money, tried hiding the alcohol or stash, deleted phone numbers, called other family members, yelled, threatened to leave.

— Joanne Ketch, in Katy, TX

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

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

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,

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

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

lacking self-love and being dependent on others to meet fill those needs/wants.

— Nicole Bailey, Therapist in Atlanta, GA

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 Houston, TX

“I am not ok if you are not ok!” This is the codependents mantra. It dictates how you spend your time, resources, emotional energy, even the people you chose as friends. Aren’t you tired of having your emotional states dictated by how others experience you? Freedom from this mantra is possible. You can say no and attend to your own needs. At first this will feel very uncomfortable and scary but you are worth it.

— Aimee Grimm, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Montrose, CA

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

Many people only have a vague understanding of Codependency, and yet it is an issue that may be extremely impacting on one's functioning : the ability to set boundaries, to feel self love, identify reality and experiences, and modulate emotional responses. Codependency is often endemic in families impacted by addiction but it is a widespread issue that extends beyond the presence of usual addictions. Clients gain clarity about what this disorder is, what it means for them and how to heal.

— rachel khints, Counselor in New York, NY

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

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

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

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