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

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

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

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

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

If you are a people pleaser or put others needs above your own there's a good chance that you are struggling with codependent behavior. Codependents put all of their energy into taking care of others often at their own expense and with little in return. This kind of behavior is also common in relationships where domestic violence is involved. I am a recovering codependent and I can help you to identify some of these behaviors and work towards being more assertive.

— Christine Cuhaciyan, Counselor in Seattle, WA

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

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

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

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

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

“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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Randle, Clinical Social Worker in Malvern, AR

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

Are you stuck in a relationship pattern that leaves you feeling helpless or confused as to whether to leave or stay in a relationship? -Are you staying in a relationship out of guilt or fear of being alone even though you are unhappy and unsatisfied? -Are you having difficulty letting go of a partner and obsessing over a relationship that has ended? With the guidance and support of a professional who's trained to understand the dynamics of codependent relationships, you can be free from the pain

— Lisa Knudson, Counselor in Asheville, NC

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

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

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

Codependency is often set into motion when we are young (think, childhood). PIT is a method where a person can learn to develop a healthy sense of self and begin to enjoy relationships.

— Liz Imparato, Licensed Professional Counselor in Phoenix, AZ

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

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

You look like a rock star, always on top of things, responsible, the one that others depend on. But you’re exhausted, resentful, lonely, and furious that no one is taking care of you. Codependency is a strategy we discover to connect to parents who have unmet dependency needs from childhood. We care for them to get a smidge more of the love we need. Now, your mission is to give yourself the care you’ve been giving to others. By meeting your own dependency needs, you can heal your codependency.

— Julie Levin, Marriage & Family Therapist in Pleasant Hill, CA