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Got Guided Imagery to Help with Co-Dependency?

22 Sep

This question came to us from someone in treatment for codependency issues (a kind of relationship addiction that involves compulsive caretaking, often with someone who is disabled, sick or alcoholic). She is looking for guided imagery resources that can support and complement the work she is already doing with her psychotherapist.

Question:

What do you suggest for getting help for myself with my codependency issues? Is there a particular guided imagery that would be a good addition to my therapy?

Chris

Answer:

Dear Chris,

Great question. Just to be sure we're both talking about the same thing, let me clarify my idea of what co-dependency is.

It's a kind of "relationship addiction", where people - generally those with insufficient self-esteem - have one-sided relationships that focus on the needs, wishes and agendas of the other person (spouse, friend, etc) over their own. They focus outward rather than inward, with a kind of compulsive care taking and a strong need to be needed.

Often the relationship is with someone who is alcoholic or chemically dependent, ill, disabled or in some other apparent need of "saving". Sometimes the relationship can be emotionally or physically abusive.

Usually the co-dependent person becomes stuck in this rescuing behavior, feeling overly responsible, victimized and martyred, until something happens to disrupt the relationship and free them. That's no day at the beach either, because there's a real fear of abandonment, and the loss of a codependent relationship can be pure devastation. But good things can come of it, if the person recognizes the problem and wants to change.

Okay, so assuming we're both talking about the same thing, I have some audio titles to recommend to you for help with co-dependency. Don't get all of them. It's best to start with one or two and see if the method suits you and seems to help.

If it does, get another when you're sick of the ones you have. It will all have a wonderfully cumulative effect, a sort of very positive form of brainwashing that can undo the negative, needy internal stories that got you into all this relationship imbalance in the first place.

Okay, so here are the ones I'd suggest:

2135bThe imagery in Relaxation & Wellness helps listeners imagine that they're surrounded by a protective cushion of energy filled with positive, supportive people, places, animals, beings, well wishes, etc. Because of this imaginal insulation, it helps with maintaining good boundaries and works to keep people from being so reactive to their environment and everyone in it, and more tuned into themselves. So that's a good one for co-dependency.

The imagery for Heartbreak Abandonment & Betrayal focuses specifically on helping people look within for and find their core of inner strength and reliability - strength that doesn't depend on others or on validation from the outside world. So that too is very good for healing codependency, with or without an actual breakup. If the relationship has actually ended, this imagery is as good as it gets for co-dependency.

Since co-dependency has at its heart troubled self-esteem issues, Traci Stein's Self-Esteem and Self-Esteem during Sleep is a wonderful, healing, hypnotic narrative for co-dependency, and you could play it awake or snoozing.

2555bWilliam DeFoore's Nurturing Your Inner Child is a beautiful, sensitive guided meditation program for those traumatized during childhood, and it addresses many of the issues of co-dependency and addiction. So that too is a super choice.

Finally, if you want something reinforcing and strengthening of your progress, while you're in the car or doing other things, the Affirmations program might be a perfect accompaniment for all the other therapeutic work you are doing, with your therapist and the guided imagery.

Good luck and I hope this helps!

All best,

Belleruth

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award.