Debunking Myths: The Truth About Codependency

Some individuals wonder if codependency is a myth. In this article, we discuss codependency for what it truly is: a dysfunctional pattern of behavior.

Codependency is a Myth: The Conversation Around Codependency

Codependency refers to a complex pattern of behaviors and dynamics in relationships. It is characterized by excessive reliance on others for self-worth and identity. However, codependency can be a difficult concept to understand. It can be easy to believe commonly touted myths.

 These myths can lead to misconceptions and misguided beliefs about this phenomenon. By exploring current research, we can understand the impact of these misconceptions on individuals and their relationships.

Dispelling myths surrounding codependency can help foster greater empathy and effective interventions for those affected by codependency.

codependency is a myth

What is Codependency?

Codependency refers to a dysfunctional pattern of behavior and relationship dynamics. Here, individuals rely on each other for their emotional and psychological well-being.

In a codependent relationship, the individual often sacrifices their needs and boundaries. The codependent person sacrifices their needs to meet the demands and expectations of the other person.

These individuals may also strongly desire to “fix” the other person’s problems. The individual often neglects their self-care and personal growth in the process.

Codependency is a Myth: What Misconceptions Exist About Codependency?

Wilderness therapy programs involve participants engaging in activities such as:

Misconceptions about codependency can lead to misunderstanding and confusion. Here, we review some common misconceptions.

Some of the most prevalent misconceptions include:

Codependency Only Occurs in Relationships with Addicts

This is a general misconception that gives rise to thoughts like “codependency is a myth.” Codependency is often associated with substance use disorder. However, it can occur in any relationship, not solely in the context of addiction.

Codependent patterns can develop in relationships with individuals with chronic mental health issues. These individuals often have difficulty balancing emotional dependency in relationships.

Codependency is a Sign of Love and Care

This is also a general misconception that gives rise to thoughts like “codependency is a myth.” Codependent behavior, such as excessive enabling, is often mistaken for love and care. However, true love and care involve healthy boundaries and mutual respect.

It also involves supporting each other’s individual growth. Codependency, on the other hand, encourages unhealthy dynamics and an imbalance of power.

Codependency is a Permanent Personality Trait

This is a general misconception that gives rise to thoughts like “codependency is a myth.” Codependency is not a fixed personality trait or a permanent condition. It is a learned behavior that develops in response to specific circumstances and relationship patterns.

Individuals can address their codependent patterns and develop healthy relationships with others by undergoing therapy.

Codependent Individuals are Always Passive and Submissive

Codependent individuals often display passive and submissive behaviors. However, it’s important to recognize that they can also exhibit manipulative tendencies. 

Some individuals wonder if codependency is a myth. However, we can see codependency manifest in different ways.

In codependent relationships, individuals may alternate between caretaking and controlling behaviors. They may try to maintain control and security in the relationship through manipulation.

Addressing Codependency is Solely the Responsibility of One Person

This is a general misconception that gives rise to thoughts like “codependency is a myth.” Codependent dynamics result from the interaction between two or more individuals. One individual may display more codependent behaviors.

However, it’s essential to understand that both parties contribute to unhealthy relationship patterns.

Addressing codependency requires the willingness and effort of all individuals involved. These individuals must be willing to change their behaviors and establish healthier dynamics.

Codependency is a Myth: Evidence-Based Perspective on Codependency

The concept of codependency is often discussed and researched in psychology. A growing body of evidence sheds light on the dynamics and consequences associated with codependent relationships.

Here are some evidence-based perspectives on codependency:

Attachment Theory

John Bowlby developed this theory, and other researchers expanded upon the theory. This theory highlights the importance of early childhood attachment patterns in shaping adult relationships. This theory addresses questions such as whether codependency is a myth.1

Codependency is often seen as a manifestation of insecure attachment styles. Some of these attachment styles include an anxious or avoidant attachment. Research also showed that individuals with insecure attachment styles are likelier to engage in codependent behaviors.

Family Systems Theory

Codependency is often viewed within the framework of family systems theory. This theory emphasizes the interconnectedness of family members and the impact of family dynamics on individual functioning. It also addresses whether codependency is a myth.2

Research also illustrates how dysfunctional family systems can contribute to the development of codependent behavior. These dysfunctional systems are characterized by enmeshment, lack of boundaries, and unhealthy communication patterns.

Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Evidence suggests a link between codependency and traumatic experiences, especially trauma experienced in childhood. Individuals who experience trauma may be more prone to developing codependent patterns.3

These individuals use codependency to cope with the aftermath of trauma. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is also associated with higher levels of codependency.

Codependency is a Myth: What Does Research Tell Us About Codependency?

Research on codependency has revealed several common patterns among people struggling with this issue. Research on codependency provided valuable insights into its nature. It addresses the causes, consequences, and potential interventions.

This research contributes to the discussion on whether codependency is a myth. Here are some key findings from studies on codependency:

Gender Differences

Some research suggests that codependency may be more prevalent among women than men. However, it’s important to note that codependency can affect individuals of any gender. 

Also, gender roles and societal expectations can influence the manifestation of codependent behaviors.

Treatment and Interventions

Studies show various therapeutic approaches and interventions for codependency. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and group therapy help address codependency. These therapies also help to improve relationship dynamics.

Self-help groups such as Codependents Anonymous (CoDA) can also be beneficial. It’s important to know that there are resources available, both in person and virtually, to help you or your loved one heal from codependency.

Relationship Patterns

Studies identified specific relationship patterns that are characteristic of codependent relationships. These include excessive caretaking, enabling behaviors, and poor boundaries. It can also include emotional dependence and an imbalance of power.

Research has also highlighted the cyclical nature of codependency, meaning individuals often repeat these patterns in subsequent relationships.

Codependency is a Myth: What Informs Treatment and Support Strategies?

Research on codependency plays a crucial role in informing treatment and support strategies. It supports individuals experiencing codependent patterns in their relationships. The evidence shows that the conception that codependency is a myth is incorrect.

During treatment, the individual needs to debunk the thought that codependency is a myth. Here are some ways in which the evidence helps to develop effective interventions:


Understanding the nature and dynamics of codependency is an essential first step in treatment. It can help debunk the idea that codependency is a myth. Psychoeducation involves providing individuals with information about codependency. This information includes its causes and impact on their well-being. Educating individuals about healthy boundaries helps them gain insight into their codependent patterns. It fosters a sense of empowerment.

Individual Therapy

Evidence-based therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), help to address codependency. These therapies help individuals identify and challenge dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs.

Individual therapy helps to develop healthier coping strategies, improve self-esteem, and set and enforce boundaries. Trauma-focused therapies are also beneficial for individuals who experienced childhood trauma. Trauma can contribute to codependency in individuals.

Couples/Family Therapy

When codependency occurs within a relationship or family system, couples or family therapy may be recommended. These approaches focus on improving communication and enhancing relationship dynamics.

It establishes healthy boundaries and promotes mutual support and individual growth. Family systems therapy helps identify and address dysfunctional patterns within the family that contribute to codependency.

Group Therapy and Support Groups at Choice House

Group therapy, such as codependency-focused support groups or 12-step programs, provides individuals with a supportive environment. Here, they get to share their experiences.

They can also gain insights from others facing similar challenges and receive guidance from facilitators who have overcome codependency. Group settings also promote a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation.

Codependency is a Myth: Addressing Codependency in a Compassionate and Constructive Manner

Compassionately addressing codependency is crucial for creating a safe and supportive environment for individuals seeking help. It enables them to debunk the idea that codependency is a myth and work toward treatment. 

Here are some principles and approaches that can guide the process:

Empathy and Validation

It’s important to approach individuals struggling with codependency with empathy and understanding. Clinicians should validate their experiences and emotions. 

They should also acknowledge the challenges they face and the courage it takes to seek support.

Compassionate listening and non-judgmental attitudes help create a safe space. Here individuals feel safe to talk openly about their struggles.

Collaborative Goal Setting

Clinicians should collaborate with the individual to set treatment goals that align with their needs, values, and aspirations. They should involve them in decision-making, empowering them to take ownership of their healing journey.

This collaborative approach fosters a sense of agency. It promotes a more personalized and effective treatment plan.

Relapse and Setbacks

It’s important to recognize that setbacks and relapses are part of recovery. Clinicians and individuals should approach these moments with compassion and without judgment.

Mental health professionals help individuals explore the underlying triggers and challenges that contributed to the setback. They also help develop strategies to learn from the experience and continue moving forward.

Strength-Based Approach

Treatment focuses on identifying and building upon the strengths and resilience of individuals struggling with codependency. Professionals help them recognize their inherent worth, strengths, and capabilities, promoting a positive self-image.

It’s important to celebrate their progress, no matter how small, to boost their confidence and motivation. This approach helps debunk the misconception that codependency is a myth.

Healthy Boundaries and Self-Care

It’s crucial to emphasize the importance of establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries. To do this, individuals need support in identifying their needs, setting clear boundaries, and practicing self-care.

Treatment encourages them to prioritize their well-being and engage in activities that nurture their physical, emotional, and mental health.

Codependency is a Myth: How Can We Approach Individuals Struggling with Codependency with Respect and Dignity?

When treating individuals struggling with codependency, it is important to approach them with respect and dignity. It is vital to recognize that they may be struggling with underlying issues. These issues often cause or contribute to codependent behaviors.

Understanding What Contributes to Codependency

Some underlying issues can include unresolved trauma or past abuse. To approach these issues gently, we must acknowledge possible feelings of pain and loneliness. 

Providing individuals with a safe space for them to express these emotions without judgment is key.

Supporting Individuals While They Learn and Develop Skills

In addition, encouraging patients to practice healthier forms of communication and behavior is important. This can help to break codependent patterns. These behaviors can include assertively expressing their needs.

It may also include setting boundaries with others and learning how to build healthy relationships with themselves and others. It is important to be patient with the individual throughout this process. Progress may take time as they work to break out of unhealthy patterns.

By providing a supportive and non-judgmental environment, individuals can gain self-confidence. It can enable them to develop healthy relationships with themselves and others. It is also important for the therapist to remain aware of their feelings during treatment.

Codependency is a Myth: What New Strategies Can Be Developed to Help Those with Codependency?

There is ongoing research to explore new strategies to further support individuals struggling with codependency. Some potential new strategies that could be developed to help overcome codependency will be detailed below.

Trauma-Informed Approaches

There is a strong connection between childhood trauma and the development of codependency. Hence, developing trauma-informed approaches specific to codependency can be beneficial.

These approaches focus on addressing underlying trauma. They incorporate trauma processing techniques and promote healing from past experiences.

Emotion-Focused Therapy

Emotion-focused therapy (EFT) is a potential intervention for codependency. EFT emphasizes the exploration and processing of emotions. 

It helps individuals understand and regulate their emotional experiences. This approach can help individuals develop healthier relationships with their emotions.

Attachment-Based Interventions

Codependency often involves issues with healthy attachment and disrupted attachment styles. Developing interventions that target attachment patterns is valuable. It helps individuals form secure, healthy attachments.

Mind-Body Approaches

Integrating mind-body approaches such as yoga and mindfulness-based interventions into codependency treatment can be beneficial. These approaches can help individuals develop greater self-awareness.

These practices help manage emotions and build a stronger mind-body connection. The mind-body approach fosters overall well-being and resilience.

Technology-Assisted Interventions

Exploring the use of digital tools and platforms to support individuals with codependency can be beneficial. This could include online therapy programs, mobile applications, and virtual support groups. It also provides accessible and convenient resources for treatment and ongoing support.4

Cultural Sensitivity and Diversity

Recognizing and addressing the unique cultural aspects of codependency is important. Developing culturally sensitive strategies ensures that individuals receive appropriate and effective support.

This might involve adapting interventions to address cultural beliefs, norms, and values related to relationships and dependency.

Integration of Peer Support

Expanding the role of peer support in codependency treatment can be valuable. Peer support programs can provide additional encouragement, validation, and relatability. These support programs can complement professional interventions and offer a sense of hope and connection.

codependency is a myth

Codependency is a Myth: Addressing Codependency at Choice House

At Choice House, we understand that codependency is often perceived as a character flaw or weakness. We also understand that codependency is a learned behavior that develops as a coping mechanism in response to certain life experiences.

These experiences may include trauma or dysfunctional family dynamics. It can also manifest as an emotional or psychological dependency on others. Dependency can take various forms, including excessive caretaking, seeking approval, or feeling responsible for others’ well-being.

Our Approach

At Choice House, our expert mental health professionals work with men in Boulder, Colorado to address and change these behavioral patterns. Our evidence-based approach can help develop a more self-assured and fulfilling life.

Compassionately addressing codependency can have a significant positive impact on individuals. It enhances the self-esteem and self-worth of the individual. Our treatment programs are guided by support, compassion, and understanding.

Start Your Journey Today

At Choice House, we offer a supportive and understanding environment for healing. We help develop the tools needed to live a satisfying life and build healthy, supportive relationships. 

To begin your journey to recovery from codependency, contact us today.

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Don’t let addiction or co-occurring mental health conditions keep you from leading the happy, healthy, and empowered life you deserve. Contact Choice House today and embrace recovery.

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