mental health, therapy, counseling and psychology terms glossary


Codependency is a behavior where a person has an unhealthy focus on another’s need – they will sacrifice their own well-being in order to serve the other. The codependent person may build their entire identity around the needs of the other person.

A person with codependency issues may have low self-esteem – feeling that they are unworthy of value and attention. They deny their own need for self-care and rest in favor of this need to save the other. Codependent people often project an image of control and perfectionism – and they frequently take on more obligations than they can handle. If they are criticized for any failures or shortcomings, their insecurity grows and they may try to control the other person.

Codependency generally stems from feelings of shame and neglect when they were a child. At that age, the codependent “serving” behavior was used as a survival tactic, however, it is unhealthy to continue the behavior as an adult. Codependency often manifests in relationships where one person is abusive or has an addiction – the codependent person will become their caregiver and end up enabling their destructive patterns. Treatment for codependency includes counseling and support groups.

Would you like to discuss treatment options for Codependency?