How is Codependency Treated?

Because codependency is usually rooted in a person’s childhood, treatment often involves exploration into early childhood issues and their relationship to current destructive behavior patterns. Treatment includes education, experiential groups, and individual and group therapy through which codependents rediscover themselves and identify self-defeating behavior patterns. Treatment also focuses on helping patients getting in touch with feelings that have been buried during childhood and on reconstructing family dynamics. The goal is to allow them to experience their full range of feelings again while giving them the necessary tools to avoid negative behavior patterns.

Codependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive. The disorder was first identified about ten years ago, as the result of years of studying interpersonal relationships in families of alcoholics. Codependent behavior is learned by watching and imitating other family members who display this type of behavior.

Characteristics of Codependent People Are:
• An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others
• A tendency to confuse love and pity, with the tendency to “love” people they can pity and rescue
• A tendency to do more than their share, all the time
• A tendency to become hurt when people don’t recognize their efforts
• An unhealthy dependence on relationships. The codependent will do anything to hold on to a relationship; to avoid the feeling of abandonment
• An extreme need for approval and recognition
• A sense of guilt when asserting themselves
• A compelling need to control others
• Lack of trust in self and/or others
• Fear of being abandoned or alone
• Difficulty identifying feelings
• Rigidity/difficulty adjusting to change
• Problems with intimacy/boundaries
• Chronic anger
• Lying/dishonesty
• Poor communications
• Difficulty making decisions


This condition appears to run in different degrees, whereby the intensity of symptoms is on a spectrum of severity, as opposed to an all or nothing scale. Please note that only a qualified professional can make a diagnosis of codependency; not everyone experiencing these symptoms suffers from codependency: