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What can therapy for codependency help with?

Codependency is a term without strict psychological meaning but is used by some people to designate a relationship in which one person “over functions” as caregiver to an underfunctioning partner. Problems arise because the desire to help overrides other needs and functions. As with any imbalanced relationship, therapy is aimed at creating a healthy dynamic in which parties are mutually caring, are equally assertive of their own needs and equally responsible for managing them, and develop and maintain healthy boundaries.

How do therapists treat codependency?

Because codependency refers to an imbalanced relationship pattern, therapy is aimed at restoring or creating healthy patterns of caring between family members or partners. Typically, the principles of couples or family therapy are applied, and parties to a relationship sort out their roles and responsibilities for taking care of themselves and each other. Therapists help family members establish boundaries of caring and nurturing so that their relationship is not dominated by the needs of one person. In addition, therapists help family members understand and accept the limits of their responsibility for any one member’s problems.

Who is qualified to treat codependency?

Any licensed psychotherapist with a grounding in couples and family dynamics and cognitive behavioral principles can help people resolve the relationship problems often referred to as codependency. Therapists also help people understand that so-called codependency arises out of normal and natural feelings to help a loved one who is experiencing problems. Family members of a person undergoing addiction treatment may be asked to undergo treatment for codependency as a way of ensuring appropriate support for recovery.

What should I look for in a therapist who treats codependency?

There is no one type of therapy dedicated to treating codependency, nor is special training required. Because codependency typically involves both distorted relationship dynamics and irrational beliefs about responsibility for the actions of others, licensed therapists who have some training in family therapy and in cognitive behavioral therapy are best qualified to treat the problem. In addition to choosing a therapist experienced in treating the kinds of dysfunctional relationships labeled codependency, it is wise to choose a therapist with whom you feel comfortable and can establish a rapport.