One of the main areas that I specialise in is codependency.
What is codependency?
Codependency is a broad term to describe how we relate to ourselves and others. How I have come to understand codependency is that we essentially learn to 'adapt ourselves to meet the needs of others.' ~Through this process of adapting ourselves to meet the needs of others, we can lose sight of who we are and our identity. This can mean that we don't have a clear sense of self, and we often don't find it easy to identify our wants and needs as our focus has always been on the wants and needs of others.
I have come to understand that the codependency traits we develop often stem from our childhood experiences. Quite often, there has been someone in our household who has narcissistic tendencies, and we have learned to revolve ourselves around that person's needs which has led to us developing codependent traits. The person with narcissistic tendencies may also have had addiction issues. We can therefore learn to adapt ourselves to meet the needs of others in our childhoods and this can then become a lifelong pattern.
We can form romantic relationships and friendships with people who have narcissistic traits and we can be totally oblivious to this relationship dynamic that we may have learnt from childhood.
What are the characteristics of codependency?
Some common characteristics are as follows:-
Caretaking - Many codependents may feel responsible for others and feel compelled to help others, often neglecting their own needs in the process.
Low self-worth - Many codependents may have a low self-esteem and continually look to others for approval and validation to help them to feel better about themselves.
Repression - Many codependents have developed the habit of suppressing their genuine feelings through fear of how others may react.
Obsession - Many codependents have a tendency towards anxiety and worry, either worrying about their own lives or future and/or worrying about others.
Controlling - Many codependents feel the need to be in control in their lives as they have a fear of what may happen if they lose control.
Denial - Many codependents can be in denial of the reality of their situation in that they may not be able to acknowledge or recognise any dysfunction occurring within or around them.
Dependency - Many codependents can feel dependent on others or external situations for their feelings of happiness rather than feeling content within themselves.
Poor communication - Many codependents may have difficulty expressing their genuine feelings to others, often through fear of how they may react.
Weak boundaries - Many codependents have a high tolerance for inappropriate behaviour and find it difficult to be assertive and say no to others.
Lack of trust - Many codependents have difficulty trusting themselves and their feelings and trusting others.
Anger - Many codependents feel afraid of expressing their anger and repress their angry feelings.
How do I work with codependency?
I consider the first step to be to identify what codependent characteristics the client may have which are causing them distress and upset in their lives and having a negative impact. Once the client is aware of their behaviours or patterns which are not working for them, we can then develop new strategies and ways of behaving and relating to others which will have a more positive impact on the clients' lives and those around them.
I would also recommend attending the twelve step support groups of Al-Anon and CODA. These support groups deal with codependent behaviours and there are plenty of tools which can be found in their programmes which are designed to assist in developing new healthier ways of living.
Here is some feedback I have had from previous clients I have worked with:-
"Counselling never worked for me until I met Sascha. She is absolutely fantastic."
"Thanks so much for all your help - you've really made a big difference for me in a short space of time."
If you consider that you may have some codependent characteristics and feel that you may benefit from counselling, you can call me on 07769 610711 to arrange an appointment.