Codependency is a common issue for those in destructive relationships. Codependency treatment is all about taking on new experiences independently, learning to live independently and living life without those destructive behaviours, substances or people that act as a means of escape. Codependent people engage in unhelpful relationships because these relationships distract them from either themselves, or the challenges they’re facing in life. These new experiences are vital in terms of breaking the cycle of destructive behaviours, giving clients in recovery insight into how limiting a codependent relationship can be.
Are codependent relationships real?
Codependency occurs when a person is distracted from meeting their own needs, because they are prioritising the needs of someone close to them. The purpose of these behaviours is to distract the individual involved from focusing on their own needs, instead finding their sense of value and self worth from being ‘needed’ by someone else.
Throughout my career I have heard the label of codependency, and therefore the topic of codependency recovery, mentioned many times. The enabling mother who clears the debts of their son, the dad who offers food parcels, or the couple who both have their own issues to process, and the relentless see-sawing that comes about; as one regains some sense of control, the other starts to spin into another cycle of crisis.
Despite this persistent series of events being played out across homes globally, there endures a debate over the reality of codependency, and therefore the methods needed to make a change within codependency recovery. This is because for some, codependency is viewed as a condition or an illness – for them there is a need to pathologise behaviour. Codependency is still seductive to certain people in the field, in order to give that behaviour a form of credibility. There is little evidence that codependency as a pathological condition exists, despite the best efforts of some treatment pioneers to promote this.
The reality of the issues surrounding codependency recovery is that there are some people who focus on the needs of others to give meaning and purpose to their own lives; or, if you are feeling more cynical, as a means of distracting themselves from dealing with their own needs. There is no need to pathologise codependent behaviour in order to equip people with the tools they need to address this.
Codependency recovery – or perhaps a better way of describing the change that can challenge this behaviour is ‘upskilling’ – takes a simple and effect approach of raising awareness, sharing self esteem and assertiveness tools and delivering ongoing support around the subject of boundaries. So, instead of debating the formalities of the condition being treated with codependency recovery, maybe we can just address the behaviour, equipping everyone to be self-reliant, and choose to help others without compromising the lives of those doing the helping.
Addressing the behaviour: how to begin your codependency recovery treatment
In wider recovery, there are lots of different things that can help move someone to a point of acceptance with their past. One really simple tool to get these ideas in motion is to ask “Did I set out to harm others through my actions?” It is a subtle shift of focus for some events – for example, lying to get their needs met will lead to some harmful impact on those being lied to. But nonetheless, the person who lied did not seek to create harm, but instead sought comfort in their addiction. Their lying was the means that gave them comfort. Used alongside making amends, this tool helps the clients in recovery come to terms with their actions as well as equipping them to make amends in a dignified and accepting manner.
To challenge codepency people need to accept three simple truths:
1: You are responsible for you
2: You are the expert in you
3: You are entitled to be happy and successful even if others do not want you to be.
As people accept these truths, they free themselves from the false beliefs that they have no choice. This reacquainting of choice and development with self esteem will be the foundations of the boundaries necessary to have healthy relationships both now and in the future.
Here at Betterminds, our codependency course is designed to upskill you and your team to recognise the signs of destructive behaviour, so you can provide the most effective codependency recovery treatments. Take a look at our other courses for tools and techniques that help your clients recognise their responsibilities.