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Codependent With Your Therapist

How can we become codependent on our therapist?

How can our therapist become codependent on us???

What to be mindful of to avoid caretaking for your therapist OR avoid being caretaken by your therapist?

Listen to hear me talk through two situations from my past where I was codependent with a former therapist…and another one who was codependent with me! What does codependency look like in the therapy room? What are the signs that you are taking care of your therapist or they are taking care of you? Yes, it’s okay to be thoughtful, accepting, and encouraging…but when do we cross the line and enter a codependent relationship with a licensed professional? Tune in to hear the answers!

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In this week’s episode:

Marissa starts with Melody Beattie’s definition of codependency: one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior. The other person could be a child, adult, lover, spouse, sibling, parent, friend, etc. They could be an alcoholic, an addict, mentally or physically ill, normal with occasional sad feeling, etc.

Marissa then describes one characteristic of codependency: caretaking. What does caretaking even mean? Caretaking: look after (people or animals). Ok, then what does caretaker mean? a person who gives physical or emotional care to someone (such as a child, an old person, or someone who is sick).

Alright, working from there, let’s hear how Marissa either was the caretaker for her therapist:

At the age of 20, Marissa started seeing a middle-aged, white, balding, male therapist. How did she begin to become obsessed with controlling his behavior? She shares how she was not literally trying to control ger therapist 24/7. She was just trying to control how he perceived her that hour they met and during the moments during the week if and when he thought of her. Again, le’ts look at the dictionary: what does controlling and obsessing mean?

Controlling: determining the behavior of; supervising the running of.

Obsessed: be preoccupied with or constantly worrying about something.

So simple! As codependents, we are worried and preoccupied about determining the behavior of others around us.

What this meant in therapy: Marissa was not 100% honest with him and hid her biggest issues, saddest moments, and most pathetic behaviors.

Quintessential example of her codependency with this therapist: she bought him a Thank You card to apologize for her slow progress (and tried to convey to him “Don’t give up on me.”).

Girl, this is classic codependency: Marissa is literally caretaking her therapist’s feelings in order to ensure he’s not disappointed or abandons her. Bad sign that she wrote the card and bad sign that her therapist ended up putting it on his desk as a token! That therapist should have asked Marissa why TF she wrote an apologetic card, investigated her guilt, and tried to help her avoid keeping things from him…since it wasn’t helping her to be as codependent with him as she was outside of therapy.

Questions to ask yourself: do you hesitate to be honest with your therapist, do you worry about disappointing them, have you written a “Thank You and Sorry-I’m-not-getting-better card?” DON’T!

Marissa then proceeds to share about a second experience where she was caretaken by her therapist. In her late 20s, Marissa started working with a therapist due to all the changes she was going through in her life: marriage, new house, moving out of her parents, newly licensed, looking for a new job, etc.

One area of her codependency that her therapist really helped me with was with finances. Thanks to help from her therapist, Marissa started to recognize how codependent she was with her parents via money.

She started to “play big and take up space” financially and pay for herself: big purchases and small. Her parents thought it was odd but went along with it. THEN, Marissa’s dog died, she had a dental emergency that cost $3K, and her car was broken into and her tablet got stolen. Yikes!

Being a “grown up” and becoming more financially independent was starting to suck. Marissa shares how she cried in therapy after she realized her insurance was also changing and she would no longer be able to afford seeing her therapist. Instead of problem-solving, her therapist swooped in–just like her mom and dad did–and gave her a HUGE discount for therapy.

What’s the communication here when people caretake for us? “I don’t think you can do it.” Within a few weeks, Marissa was able to figure it out and asked to start paying her therapist her full fee. Her therapist ended up resisting the proposal, therapy fell apart, and Marissa found another therapist…who charged way more and has figured out how to make it work!

We wrap up with questions to ask yourself to avoid being codependent with your therapist. Be sure to share your experience with Marissa!

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