Codependency is one of the many issues that our holistic team of psychotherapists work with here at The Holding Space. To find out more about codependency and how therapy can impact it, read below!
What is Codependency?
Codependency is an unhealthy reliance, or dependence, on relationships, such that one’s mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing actually depend on the relationships they are in and how they function within them. Codependency is NOT simply depending on others within relationships—this can be, and often is, healthy, so long as the dependence is mutual and well-balanced with independence. In a codependent relationship, there is a severe imbalance in dependence between partners. Most often, one partner needs to depend on the second partner, and the second partner needs to feel depended on. This can lead to a pattern wherein the first partner makes their needs/desires known, and the second partner not only plans their life around meeting these needs/desires, but their wellbeing is also impacted by their ability to (or not to) do so. In a codependent relationship like this, the person who needs to be needed is considered the “codependent,” and the person who needs a partner is often called the “benefactor.”
While this type of relationship dynamic might seem advantageous for the benefactor, codependency is actually dysfunctional for both parties. Consistently relying on the codependent prevents the benefactor from learning how to build healthy, two-sided relationships, and it often reinforces manipulative, and even abusive, behaviors. On the flip side, consistently putting the benefactor’s needs over their own causes the codependent to base their self-esteem and -worth on their ability to meet the needs of others, as well as to lose connection with their own needs, desires, and, ultimately, identity. Beyond this, a codependent relationship can negatively impact the other relationships (e.g. friends, family), careers, and mental health of both partners. Even if they notice these negative outcomes, it is often incredibly difficult for either partner to leave the relationship, which is why codependent relationships are often referred to as being “cyclical.”
What does Codependency Look Like?
Codependency can appear in many forms within relationships. For example, there could be just one codependent and one benefactor, as described above. This could look like a relationship where one partner makes their feelings loud and clear, while the other does not express them at all, or may not even be able to recognize them when asked. It could also look like a relationship where one partner consistently requests permission or approval form the other partner to do daily tasks, or where one partner is consistently doing things for the other partner, even if they feel uncomfortable. Alternatively, both partners could be codependent, in which case there is no true benefactor. This could look like a relationship where both partners seem to be bending over backwards to meet the needs of the other, yet neither is satisfied; or, a relationship where the partners are always together but rarely make plans with people outside the relationship. Regardless of the make-up of the relationship, being a codependent often involves feeling like you’re walking on eggshells but can’t articulate how you feel about the relationship; your partner is in need of saving or fixing; you’re uncomfortable or anxious when disconnected from your partner; you are or need too much; you’ve lost touch with yourself and your needs.
What does Codependency Treatment Look Like?
While codependency can develop in any type of relationship—friendships, romantic partnerships, work relationships, etc.—it often has roots in our early family dynamics. More specifically, exposure to family dynamics involving damaging parental relationships, mentally or physically ill family members, and/or abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual) in childhood/adolescence seems to be closely related to the development of codependent relationships in adulthood. In family dynamics such as these, children grow up in an environment where their own needs/desires are not attended to, and, in fact, they are often being asked to attend to the needs/desires of others before they are developmentally capable of doing so. Over time, these children learn that their role in life is to meet the needs/desires of others, so they take on this role in their subsequent relationships. Based on this knowledge, therapy for codependency often aims to address not only present relationship dynamics and issues, but also those from throughout the client’s development.
Here at The Holding Space, we help you identify the issues that are specific to you, your relationships, and your history, and we offer an individualized, holistic approach to address them. This starts with welcoming our clients into a warm and accepting environment, which we believe is necessary for creating the trust and safety needed for any therapeutic work. Once these minimum requirements for the therapeutic relationship have been established, your therapist will work to with you to explore your early relationship dynamics, how they may be linked to your present codependency, and how all of this may be linked to your relationships with yourself and others, your mental health, and your overall wellbeing. Your therapist may integrate different treatment modalities (link to our services page) into this exploration, with the goals of shifting away from old, harmful patterns and creating new, healthy ones.
Who does Codependency Treatment Work for?
Therapy for codependency can occur with an individual or a couple. If you recognize the patterns and feelings described above within your relationship(s), or are concerned they might develop, therapy for codependency could be appropriate for you.
To find out if The Holding Space might be a fit for you and your unique needs, contact us for a consultation today!
Start Codependency Therapy at The Holding Space in Los Angeles, CA Today!
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Other Therapy Services Offered at the Holding Space in Los Angeles, CA
Our licensed and professional therapists have extensive experience in helping clients with codependency. We provide depth therapy in Los Angeles, CA, and other forms of therapy to help people effectively overcome their codependency. We also specialize in other therapy services including Depression treatment, Therapy for Addiction, Couples Therapy, Art Therapy, and Brainspotting. Contact us today to learn more about our Los Angeles-based practice.