Codependency Therapy in Austin: Where to Get Help

Posted by on in Attachment, Blog, Codependency, Self-esteem, Therapy, Trauma | 0 comments

A colorful view of the Austin city skyline, near Lady Bird Lake. Codependency Therapy in Austin, Texas.

Photo by Carlos Delgado on Unsplash.

If you’re reading this article, you probably don’t need to read this one.

You already know about the signs and symptoms of codependency. 

You may already realize you’re in a codependent relationship.

Perhaps you’ve already made up your mind to seek codependency therapy.

If you’re looking for codependency therapy in Austin, you’re in the right spot.  I’m a therapist that specializes in codependency therapy in Austin, and I’ve been doing this work for over a decade.

Even so, I’m going to spend some time talking about other ways to get help for codependency in Austin.  And, I’ll give you an idea about what therapy for codependency looks like from the inside.

Where to get codependency therapy in Austin, Texas

Photo by davide ragusa on Unsplash.

Well, you’ve managed to find one therapist who can help!

I’m a therapist in Austin, Texas and treating codependency is what I do.

You can learn more about my experience offering codependency counseling here—if you follow the link, don’t let the words “people pleasing” fool you.

People pleasing, aka anxious attachment, is one style of codependency—it happens to be one I know particularly well, but codependent behavior can actually show up in many different ways. That’s part of what makes identifying it so confusing.

People often argue about how to define codependency.  I talk more about some of the challenges in defining codependency and how attachment styles will help you better understand your codependent behavior here.

Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash.

Even though I offer codependency therapy in Austin, I may not be the right therapist for you.  Working with someone with whom you feel comfortable is essential for making progress in therapy.

I can’t overstate how important it is to have a good fit with your therapist! 

I suggest meeting with several different therapists for a free consultation to get a sense of who’s the best therapy for you; I offer free consultations, and so do many other therapists in Austin.

If spending time and money in personal therapy aren’t in the cards for you right now, help is still available.  There are free CoDA (Codependents Anonymous) meetings in Austin and all around the world. These meetings follow the AA model of recovery and may not be for everyone.

Loads of codependency books are out there—some of the best known are Codependent No More and Beyond Codependency by Melody Beattie, and Facing Codependence by Pia Mellody.

You may also be able to work with a therapist on a sliding scale who is familiar with codependency.  If you’d like some referrals for therapists offering codependency counseling on a sliding scale, send me an email.

Choosing a Codependency Therapist in Austin

Photo by Oscar Blair on Unsplash

There are several therapists offering codependency counseling in Austin.

Whoever you work with, I think it would really help to make sure that they have a working knowledge of attachment theory.  Anxious attachment drives a lot of codependent behavior.

It would also be wise to work with someone who can help you not only target the symptoms of codependency (eg, burnout, depression, anxiety and worry, buried anger that comes out as resentment, poor boundaries, low self-esteem, “overfunctioning” in relationships), but also address the root of the problem.

It helps to work with someone who is good at trauma recovery and has specialized training to help with this—EMDR, for example.

EMDR Therapy is a very popular form of trauma therapy, and there are many therapists in Austin offering EMDR therapy.  Again, you have a range of choices about who to work with—which is great, but can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, too.

When searching for codependency counseling in Austin, you might also want to search with other terms that describe a similar set of problems:  therapy for anxious attachment or therapy for people-pleasing.

I’d like to give you more of an idea of what recovery from codependency actually looks like in therapy.  There are several different pieces that need to be addressed when recovering from codependency.

What does codependency therapy look like in practice?

Generally, recovery from codependency has a few different parts.  The first is understanding codependency as a relational and survival strategy that is learned in childhood.

Task #1

Photo by Rhendi Rukmana on Unsplash.

Many people feel shame when they realize the struggle with codependency.

The word “codependency” has a lot of baggage that goes with it, which is part of why I don’t use the term much in my practice.

But, codependency is a survival strategy, a way of meeting relational needs in a chaotic or emotionally stifled family environment.

How does codependency get started?  If you could tune into the mind of a young child in an enmeshed family, you’ll find beliefs like these hiding underneath lots of anxiety and depression:

“If I’m really helpful and indispensable in this family, maybe I won’t be abandoned” or

“If I make sure everyone is happy, then we’ll all be okay and Dad won’t drink so much/Mom won’t lose her temper, etc” or

“If I take on the reputation in the family as the “problem child”—then no one else will have to look at their own ‘stuff’ and they can all just focus on me and my problems.”

“It’s better that I don’t need much from anyone– emotions are overwhelming and there’s no one here to help me with mine.  Better to ignore them, and try to avoid my family’s emotional outbursts, too.” 

Fear of abandonment is often lurking under codependent behavior, as is a fear of loss of control.

Children who grow up to struggle with codependency come from troubled families.  They learn that the way to maintain equilibrium is to compulsively caretake others—to anticipate others’ needs and meet them without being asked.  I’ve written quite a bit about some big causes of people-pleasing, which is a style of codependency, here.

Codependency counseling must provide education to help put your childhood experiences in context.  From there, you can begin to make changes.

Task #2

So, the first piece is understanding these behaviors and patterns and where they come from.

The second task is to hold this awareness with compassion—that is, without shame.  Shame drives a lot of people-pleasing and codependent behaviors.

Understanding codependency as a survival strategy for a young child is an important part of recovery.

Of course, as an adult, you have more options now about being able to safely change and live a new way– but as a child, you had few options.

Sometimes, we have to get creative to survive crazy, painful situations.  Codependency is one such method.

This task of practicing self-compassion is harder than it sounds and can take a lot of practice.  But, it’s an important part of recovery:  self-compassion is the antidote to shame.

Codependency therapy will help you practice more empathy and self-compassion, which is key to recovering from codependency and self-neglect.

Task #3

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash.

The third step of healing?  Codependency recovery also requires tending to childhood trauma.

These behaviors don’t come out of the blue!  And, much relief can come from acknowledging where they were first learned.

This is where EMDR therapy or another form of trauma counseling can be useful.

One part of why EMDR therapy is so helpful for recovery from codependency is that it targets certain core beliefs that children learned early on in their families, things like,

“I’m too much to handle” or

“My anger makes me unloveable.”

Healing these messages is an important part of recovery, and usually needs to happen before we get into task #4.

Codependency counseling can help you address and gently change the hurt caused by past trauma.

Task #4

Photo by Pau Casals on Unsplash.

The fourth task in therapy has to do with learning new skills for setting boundaries.

Often, people struggling with codependency have skills deficits in setting boundaries.  They haven’t had much practice, as boundary-setting was frankly discouraged if not outright punished when they were growing up.

So, learning how to set boundaries kindly and firmly is an important part of recovering from people-pleasing and codependency.

And, the boundaries work is not just a matter of telling other people ‘no.’

There’s also a lot of work to be done on internal boundaries—that is, understanding what one is actually responsible for in relationships and life in general, detecting and acknowledging physical and emotional needs and meeting them.

A person struggling with codependency is often unaware of their own needs, and sometimes even very cut-off from bodily sensations.  Yet they may also struggle with chronic medical conditions and symptoms, some of them unexplained or not responsive to treatment.  They have learned to shut themselves off– at a very high price.

People-pleasers and codependents often need help decreasing the sense of responsibility they have for others and increasing the sense of responsibility they have for themselves. 

They have to learn to identify and interrupt deep patterns of self-neglect where they meet everyone else’s needs first and end up overwhelmed and martyred.  They also need help paying close attention to their thoughts and feelings, instead of disappearing into other peoples’ agendas and crises.

Codependency therapy can help you both with practicing skills for setting boundaries and doing the inner work to better understand where you end and someone else begins.  (You have to know where your borders are before you can begin protecting them.)

Task #5

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash.

People trying to recover from codependency must learn new ways of cultivating self-esteem.  For a long time, their sense of worth and purpose has been established upon their generosity and caregiving of others, or their professional or academic achievements.

This is known as performance-based esteem—the idea that you’re only as good as your latest accomplishment.  These beliefs can drive perfectionism, high achievement, Type A behaviors, and workaholism.

This belief is again based on shame:  “I’m not inherently worthy of love—I must earn love by performing well.  If I perform well, I feel good about myself (for a little while).  And if I don’t, I feel crushing shame… which is why making mistakes and errors is so intolerable.”

In order to make lasting change, codependents have to begin the long road of recovering their sense of inherent self-worth—and this can take some time.  This actually links back into task 2, of practicing compassion as a way of counteracting shame, and task 3, healing childhood trauma.

Codependency counseling can help you develop better self-esteem.

Task #6

Lastly, people recovering from codependency must learn how to put themselves at the center of their own lives.

Using skills and information from the previous tasks in therapy, they are finally ready to begin living for themselves, with their own needs, preferences, and wishes governing their choices.

Counterbalancing years of self-neglect, martyrdom, and chronic worry with steady practices of compassion and self-care takes work and conscious intention.

Though I’ve named these pieces in a sort of sequence, they actually happen in therapy in different orders depending on the person.  Some need to start right away with the skills work, because they’re in a relationship or work setting that demands immediate attention to boundaries.

Others may have the space available to dive into healing their childhood trauma.  Some may need help identifying and tending to their day to day emotional needs after decades of self-neglect, for the sake of self-care or to soften the impact of chronic stress that comes with compulsive caregiving.

Effective therapy is therapy tailored to your circumstances and needs.  Codependency therapy will help you understand your needs and priorities in your life now, without feeling the crushing burden of guilt, obligation to others, or fear of others’ disapproval.

Getting codependency therapy in Austin, Texas

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.

Is it possible to recover from codependency without therapy?  Yes, I think it is–if you have a strong support system backing you as you try to make changes.

That’s part of what therapy does—it offers a safe place for sanity checks in the middle of a life that may feel runaway and unmanageable, with people who have a stake in things telling you not to change.

It can be very confusing to recover from codependency.  Probably a number of people in your world may protest the changes, as you’ll be shifting dynamics that may be decades-old by this point, dynamics that often benefit the people around you at your own expense.

So, whether you choose to pursue therapy for codependency or not, know that help is available and that change is possible.  You can recover from codependency.

If you’d like to discuss the possibility of working together, contact me to set up your free consultation.  I’m a therapist specializing in codependency therapy in Austin, Texas.  I offer counseling for codependency and EMDR therapy for trauma recovery, and I have particular expertise in working with people-pleasers.

If we meet for a consultation and you find you’re looking for a different sort of therapist, no worries.  I’ll be happy to offer recommendations to help you get connected with the right person.

Submit a Comment