Working Pia Mellody’s Model of Co-dependence with Individuals by Jan Bergstrom, LMHC

When an individual comes to see me, I work with them to map out and understand their family of origin experience. The purpose of reviewing what happened is NOT to stay in the past, however to understand how those patterns or woundings show up in their present life and relationships. I use Pia Mellody’s model of working with co-dependence that looks at these states of immaturity in one of the five areas: Self Esteem (how were they valued), Boundaries (how were they protected physically and emotionally), Reality (how they were validated in their sense of self), Self Care and Interdependence (how they had their needs met or not), and Moderation (how limits were set and enforced in the family). Everyone has damage in one if not all of these areas growing up.

After debriefing the client on how they adapted in their family of origin, the educating process begins. Teaching the Five Core Self Skills of loving the self, protecting the self (through use of internal boundaries), creating and knowing the self, taking care of the self interdependently, and containing and moderating the self, creates a foundational base that supports healing, growth and renewal.

In addition, another essential part of this process is to begin to understand how “parts of selves” were created to survive their family system. These parts of selves are wounded and adapted and these states show up in their adult lives currently. So the process of therapy begins by cultivating a more functional self to intervene with these states or re-parent them. Strengthening and growing a functional adult self is essential for successful relationships

Eventually through this process of therapy, clients realize that being healthy and relational is nothing you have, it is what you “do”. Living life fully and intimately comes from a commitment to this daily practice. This kind of mindful awareness and action results in more satisfaction, joy in one’s life, and encourages each individual to incorporate a “practice”.

Sometimes it is necessary for bottom up work, when cognitive understanding of one’s family of origin trauma is not sufficient to create change and healing. I recommend that client’s do an “intensive” workshop to help create awareness and growth through an experiential process of treatment. This workshop is “Healing Our Core Issues”. I conduct this workshop in my private practice on a regular basis.