Are you trapped in a toxic relationship where your partner’s needs always seem to come before your own? Are you constantly prioritizing them to the point of it affecting your emotional well-being? If so, you may be experiencing codependency. This behavioral pattern can negatively impact your mental health, making it difficult to form healthy relationships and establish boundaries. However, the good news is that therapy can help you with overcoming codependency in relationships and allow you to reclaim your sense of self. To help you finally break free from that vicious cycle of putting your own needs last, we explore the ways in which therapy can help you gain that much-needed independence.
What Constitutes Codependency?
Before we move on to the role of therapy in overcoming codependency in relationships, it’s necessary that we first define the term itself. In general, codependency is a behavioral pattern in which an individual prioritizes the needs of others over their one. While it can be present in virtually any type of relationship, it appears to be particularly common in romantic ones, where one person is overly dependent on the other and can’t seem to do anything without their significant other’s approval or presence.
The codependent person will go to great lengths to keep their loved one happy, even if it means sacrificing their own happiness. As a result, they begin losing their identity and developing a distorted sense of self-worth.
It’s fairly common for codependency to stem from childhood experiences. For instance, growing up in a dysfunctional family or being witness to domestic abuse can make a person more prone to exhibiting a lack of independent behavior.
While not a mental illness per se, this psychological construct has the potential to lead to an array of other issues. For that reason, recognizing its symptoms is of high significance. If you are unsure of whether you or one of your loved ones are showing signs of codependency, the presence of any of the following may be cause for alarm:
- Feeling or showing a constant need to please others
- Difficulty setting boundaries
- Feeling responsible for others’ emotions
By comprehending the underlying causes and symptoms of codependency, individuals can start the recovery process and, thus, put a stop to toxic relationships moving forward.
Overcoming Codependency in Relationships Through Therapy
While no recovery is possible without the willingness to change, therapy, in combination with it, is a crucial aspect of overcoming codependency. The therapist’s role here is to help individuals recognize and challenge the negative beliefs that underlie codependent behavior. It’s through therapy exactly that those exhibiting symptoms of codependency can gain self-awareness. They can also learn to set boundaries, communicate effectively, and prioritize their needs without feeling guilty.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), for instance, has also been shown to greatly aid recovery, emphasizing mindfulness and emotional regulation. On top of that, therapy, in general, can provide a safe and supportive space for individuals to work through their issues and build the skills necessary to break free from feeling dependent on others. Furthermore, by working with someone with experience dealing with patients with similar problems, one can be sure they will have the knowledge to guide them through the recuperation process to achieve emotional well-being.
Different Types of Therapy That May Aid in Overcoming Codependency in Relationships
While we have briefly touched upon Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), let’s venture further into this and other types of therapy that may be used to treat codependent conduct.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one approach that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. This therapy helps individuals identify the thoughts and beliefs contributing to codependency, and it also allows them to develop strategies for challenging and replacing them with healthier ones.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), on the other hand, emphasizes mindfulness, emotional regulation, and interpersonal skills and can be especially helpful for individuals with a history of trauma or difficulty managing intense emotions. Lastly, we have Family Therapy, which revolves around working with the person exhibiting codependency and their family members so as to identify and address behavioral patterns that may have led to the lack of self-worth and awareness.
Of course, no therapy is ideal. That said, it goes to reason that while there are multiple pros to going through it, there are also certain drawbacks.
For instance, the advantages of CBT are that it is evidence-based and can provide quick results. It can be helpful for individuals who are looking for practical solutions and are comfortable with structured therapy. The disadvantage, however, is that it may not address underlying and repressed emotional issues. DBT, on the other hand, can be helpful for individuals who struggle with intense emotions. On the other hand, it may require more time and effort as it involves developing mindfulness and coping skills. While it helps identify codependency symptoms and address the root cause, family therapy may not be the best choice when romantic relationships are involved. Furthermore, it may not be appropriate for those that are uncomfortable sharing thoughts and issues with their family members.
To conclude, while therapy, in general, can significantly help in overcoming codependency in relationships, the appropriate type of therapy must be tailored to an individual’s specific needs and circumstances. Above all, it’s important to work with an experienced therapist who can determine the best recovery approach. It’s also crucial to remember that, sometimes, no single therapy will work. More often than not, a combination of several is a necessity. Regardless, by exploring various treatment options and locating the optimal match, people struggling to break free of toxic behavioral patterns should finally be able to stop codependency and begin forming healthy relationships.
Author’s Bio: Sarah Stevenson is a journalist and a traveler that has fought hard to overcome her anxiety. Having attended Little Creek Recovery facility, she’s finally learned to love herself and is bent on helping others learn to do the same!