Author: Melody Beattie
Genre: Mental Health, Psychology
Pub. Date: April 1, 2011 (2nd ed.)
I asked to be on this book tour because of its potential usefulness in my work as a therapist. I'll admit I haven't read the original Codependent No More straight through, but I have read various parts of it and am aware of its huge impact in the world of mental health and, specifically, substance abuse. Codependent is a term that is often misused, but it was originally coined to describe the individuals involved in some type of an unhealthy relationship with an addict. What Beattie found was that oftentimes, the "healthy" person in the relationship, or the "non-addict", was actually suffering from their own mental health issues. These individuals often were "codependent" or in need of feeling needed by that other person. They felt the need to care for the unhealthy individuals in their lives to their own demise. They forwent their own needs consistently by being overly sensitive to the other person's needs. In some cases, these codependent individuals would sabotage their partner's (or whomever's) progress due to their fear that without that ability to take care of the other they were no longer needed.
Now, co-dependence can actually be used in a more broad sense to define individuals in these types of unhealthy situations even if the other person in the relationship is not an addict. It could be any other mentally unhealthy situation. But the underlying theme is that the person has weak boundaries and is unable to separate their needs from that of the other person. Without necessarily meaning to or realizing it, their whole reason for being ends up being catering to that person or to others in general. There is an underlying feeling of low self-worth that leads to this or can be caused by this type of situation. There can also be an element of control in that codependent individuals have difficulty letting go and just allowing the other person to be as they are without letting it affect them. It's a very intense and complex psychological issue.
I sort of expected this workbook to be more of an accompaniment for the actual book with mainly activities and questions to process. What it turned out to be, instead, is a very thorough book all on its own. Each chapter contains long discussions about that step. Stories to illustrate that concept are included as well as many journaling activities. (You will need a journal or a word document to go along with this book). The book and activities create a very thorough process of increasing self-awareness and getting to know yourself. Not until you learn and process these things can you really take care of and focus on yourself. For some individuals, this book may be too much for them to do on their own and they may need the assistance of a therapist. But for some individuals, this book will be a very helpful tool for them to use on their own.
One of the treatment methods available for codependents is codependents anonymous which follows the same twelve step program as alcoholics/narcotics/etc. anonymous. Being only vaguely familiar with substance abuse issues (which is the most comment twelve step program), I was a little uncomfortable with it, and this workbook basically follows that program and emphasizes its benefit throughout. Part of the twelve step program focuses largely on submitting to a higher power and creating a spiritual path, whomever that higher spiritual power is for you. I could see this being difficult for me personally or even if using with a client because it's something I struggle with and am far from really understanding on my own personal level. The only other issue I see some people struggling with is the lack of concrete answers/help/insight. Not that I think the "answers" should be readily available, but I know people often seek out that kind of help and that is not what you'll find here which is one reason I think maybe someone who truly suffers from codependence would benefit best from utilizing this along with psychotherapy.
This workbook is not a fun and easy book of activities. No, it's intense and requires dedication and work that will likely need to be completed over an extended period of time. It's not something I would rush through. But if you're willing to put forth that effort, this well put-together and thorough workbook has the potential to help you achieve tremendous results and insight.
Follow the rest of the tour for more thoughts:
Monday, April 11th: Guinevere Gets Sober
Wednesday, April 13th: Take Me Away
Monday, April 18th: I’m Just F.I.N.E.–Recovery In Al-Anon
Thursday, April 28th: Books, Movies, and Chinese Food
Monday, May 2nd: A Room of Mama’s Own
Wednesday, May 4th: Bookshipper