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Finding Joy and Peace

Am I Counter-Dependent?

Most people understand what dependence and independence look like, but counter dependence is not something that many people are familiar. It is often used by mental health professionals, but not consistently in common conversation. Counter dependence is defined as the fear of being dependent. People who are counter dependent often go the extra mile to avoid asking for help or try to appear or even feel needy. In short, they are often, as the song says, I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T, but in a more extreme way.

Adults who may have experienced Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) may experience counter dependence. CEN as defined by Jonice Webb in the book, Running On Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect and Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships With Your Partner, Your Parents, and Your Children, is “what happens when throughout your childhood, your parents fail to respond enough to your emotional needs.” The message that many counter dependent people may receive as children is that asking for help is a sign of weakness, not to show feelings, or need anything from anyone. According to Webb, here are a few signs of counter-dependence:

  • People you love may describe you as “aloof” or emotionally distant.

  • You struggle with asking for help.

  • You may remember your childhood as happy, but also lonely.

  • Close relationships may make you feel uncomfortable.

  • You prefer to do things alone.

  • You may have inexplicable or longstanding desires to run away or even die.

  • You may have inexplicable feelings of depression.

If you identify with any of these traits, consider taking the CEN Questionaire and sign up for a Discovery Session to talk about your needs today!

By: Brandi Lewis, M.Ed, LPC

Photo By: Christian Newman

Photo By: Christian Newman

Brandi Lewis