About Dependent Personality Disorder
Dependent Personality Disorder (once known as asthenic personality disorder) is characterized by an overwhelming psychological dependence on another. Rather than looking inward or seeking fulfillment in activity and achievement, people with Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD) seek to find others to meet their physical and emotional needs. People with DPD often think of themselves as inadequate and helpless, believing they are unable to cope with the world on their own. They seek to find people who they view as capable to help them navigate through the world. They often see themselves as lacking ambition and ability. In a relationship, a dependent personality may emerge as overly agreeable and consistently deferring to the other in an attempt to ingratiate themselves and maintain the relationship at all costs.
Treatment for people with Dependent Personality Disorder seeks to provide adaptive skills to allow the dependent individual to respond differently to the world around them; developing interpersonal boundaries, managing difficulties and distress, and effectively self-regulating their own behavior. The end goal of treatment is autonomy—the capacity to live independently and develop meaningful and balanced intimate relationships with others. Many professionals have found group therapy more effective for dependent personalities than individual therapy. As with some other disorders, dependents may find it difficult to maintain therapy to a successful conclusion.
Though Dependent Personality Disorder is not commonly diagnosed in children, parents should watch for those who find difficulty making decisions without advice and reassurance, try to get others to assume responsibility, find it hard to express disagreement, doesn’t initiate projects or activities, feels uncomfortable or helpless when alone or urgently seeks new relationships when another relationship ends. Early intervention can help teens prepare for independent living as adults.
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