Codependency Treatment: 3 Steps to Truly Recover

Treatment for codependency is available and you can recover. You may want to supplement your recovery with professional help. However, in this article you will…

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Treatment for codependency is available and you can recover.

You may want to supplement your recovery with professional help. However, in this article you will learn how to treat your codependency on your own.

Codependency Treatment and Barriers

If you’ve ever struggled to find treatment for codependency, you’re not alone. Part of the problem is that codependency isn’t in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders. This manual guides treatment providers’ understanding of mental health concerns. This collective understanding helps then provide a clear roadmap for treatment.

Related: Tips for Codependency Recovery

Without this unified definition, it can be hard to find well trained counselors and other mental health professionals to help you recover from codependency. If you’ve ever had a hard time finding codependency treatment, this article is designed to guide you to recovery on your own.

Defining Codependency

Very simply, codependency is the consistent pattern of focusing on others’ approval and wellbeing over your own. Codependency is fundamentally an overall pattern of living from a place of people pleasing in which you deplete your own physical and mental health.

codependency treatment
From: The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle 

The healthy alternative by the way is interdependency where you balance your care for others with your own self-care and needs. It’s natural to care for the people in your life and to want to make them feel loved. This love is interdependent when your mental health remains intact. However, when you betray yourself and sacrifice your wellbeing to make others happy, that’s codependency.

Related: Interdependence vs Codependency: 3 Clear Ways to Know the Difference

The Three Core Steps for Codependency Treatment

The primary difference between codependency and interdependence is the quality of your relationship with yourself. Therefore, the core steps for treating codependency center around caring for yourself more often and consistently. This balances the natural care you have for others.

codependency treatment

Step #1 for Treating Codependency: Take Care of Yourself

When you want to recover from codependency, the first step is to show up for yourself more. In codependency, you pour your time and energy into other people. To recover, you must practice as if you’re interdependent.

This is an essential truth for treating codependency. You must pretend you are interdependent by prioritizing yourself even when you don’t want to care for yourself.

Prioritizing Your Self-Care

You must consistently self-care to recover from codependency.

Self-care are the activities that keep you feeling balanced and energized. These practices honor that you have a human body. All human bodies need rest, sleep, play, water, movement and nourishing food to operate well.

Related: Self Care Guidelines: 4 Simple Ways to Commit to Self-Care

One of the biggest barriers to self-care in codependency is the mistaken belief that it’s “selfish” to take time for yourself. Yet this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Related: Why Self-Care is Not Selfish

When a person is interdependent, they prioritize taking care of themselves. They know they are the foundation of all their other relationships. It’s the truth that you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you don’t take care of yourself, ultimately you will resent the people you love. And that’s not genuine care!

codependency treatment

Caring for Your Emotions

The other essential part of caring for yourself is to self-soothe. Self-soothing is the practice of doing activities which calm you when your emotions are running high.

Related: How to Be More in Control of Your Emotions: Therapy Skills to Help

There are no “bad” emotions including anger despite what the codependent part of you may say. In codependency, you naturally may want to neglect your emotions. Both because you’re giving all your energy to others and because you judge your emotions. Yet to recover from codependency, you must accept feeling emotions are a part of being human. Therefore, rather than suppressing or acting out of your emotions, you learn to soothe them.

You find healthy, Wise ways to care for your emotions even when they’re intense.

Step #2 for Treating Codependency: Protect Yourself

The next step for treating codependency is to protect yourself with healthy boundaries.

Related: What are Healthy Relationship Boundaries? A Therapist Explains

A boundary is any limit you need to set to feel safe. These limits include feeling safe with others i.e., no name-calling, yelling, or guilt trips. These limits also include keeping yourself safe with yourself. Examples of these internal boundaries are keeping a commitment to practice self-care every day even when you don’t want to or feel like it. You set this boundary with yourself to protect your wellbeing.

codependency treatment

It’s Selfish to Not Have Boundaries

One of the biggest barriers to setting boundaries is the sense of guilt that you are being “mean” if you do. In their codependency, people often feel “bad,” guilty, or ashamed to have boundaries. They don’t want to hurt or burden others.

Often, they may be afraid of being rejected or abandoned for setting boundaries as well.

While these feelings and fears are understandable, acting from this place actually hurts relationships. This is true despite how you may avoid setting boundaries to help others. In reality, it’s hurtful to not set boundaries because you will always end up resenting the person you need to set boundaries with but don’t. This hurts the relationship.

Also, if you never risk setting boundaries and potentially losing unsafe relationships, you will never overcome the mistaken codependent belief that you are not worth treating with respect!

codependency treatment

Step #3 for Treating Codependency: Communicating Well with Others

Learning to identify and communicate your boundaries is an essential skill for healthy relationships. This leads to the final step for recovering from codependency which revolve around how you interact with others.

Related: Good Communication in a Relationship: A Therapist Explains

First, you must learn to communicate interdependently. This means that you are assertive. Rather than being passive, passive-aggressive, or ultimately aggressive when you’re full of resentment, you are direct, kind and honest.

This kind, direct and honest communication fosters closeness and intimacy with those you love.

Overcoming Your Barriers to Closeness

Despite such a genuine desire to connect with loved ones in codependency, the symptoms of it actually push away true intimacy.

To recover from codependency, it’s important to both communicate directly and work on your internal barriers to healthy intimacy. One of the best ways to do this is to address any attachment issues you may have. Commonly, people with codependency have an anxious attachment style. However, they may also have avoidant qualities.

Related: Understanding the Theory of Attachment for Better Relationships

Healing from codependency requires addressing attachment issues to become securely attached – and interdependent. This means you prioritize your wellbeing and independence while still honoring the importance of being there for your loved ones.

Further Support to Treat Codependency

Treating codependency is completely possible. And it’s truly a process. Every day, you get to make choices that support your recovery.

This is a step by step process and every single time you commit to self-care, soothe your emotions, set boundaries, communicate kindly and believe in your right to healthy intimacy you recover.

You can best support your recovery from codependency by staying committed to the steps outlined in this article. Reading more resources and practicing daily skills is invaluable.

Some recommended reading to guide your recovery include the following articles:

The following books will help guide your recovery from codependency as well:

  1. The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle by Krystal Mazzola, LMFT (Now available in Spanish as well: Superar La Codependencia)
  2. The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence by Krystal Mazzola, LMFT and,
  3.  Setting Boundaries: 100 Ways to Protect Yourself, Strengthen Your Relationships and Build the Life You Want…Starting Now! by Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT

Sending love for your recovery journey! You are complete capable and worth this effort!

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About The Author

Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist and author with over a decade of experience. Currently, Krystal sees clients at her private practice, The Healthy Relationship Foundation. She has dedicated her entire career to empowering people to find their voice, deepen their ability to self-love, and improve their relationships.

Her newest book, Setting Boundaries: 100 Ways to Protect Yourself, Strengthen Your Relationships and Build the Life You Want…Starting Now! (Therapy Within Reach), gives you the tools necessary to identify, set, and stay firm with your boundaries.

Her other books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence have helped many overcome people pleasing, self-neglect, and resentment to have a healthier relationship with themselves and others.

If you have any personal dating or relationship questions, Krystal is happy to provide advice using her expertise and compassion. If you feel comfortable, feel free to leave any questions in the comments of this post. Otherwise, you may send an email to krystal@confidentlyauthentic.com or DM her on Instagram. We will always keep your name and other identifying information confidential.

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