Co-dependency refers to the tendency to allow someone else’s behaviour to affect oneself through constant
preoccupation with that person and his or her needs. Excessive caretaking and placing a lower priority on one’s
own needs are hallmarks of co-dependency. Other key elements include anger, anxiety, low self-esteem, control
issues, and difficulties with boundaries. Co-dependent behaviour can become inextricably tied in with being a good
daughter, brother, wife, caregiver, religious figure, or even a therapist. As a professional in the helping domain, I
am mindful of the dangers of co-dependency. I guide my clients to re-learn the basics of self-care, as well as a
healthy detachment from those who are a part of the co-dependent circle.
Immigration and assimilation create expected tensions. While ‘culture shock’ may be an initial dilemma for immigrant
families, discrimination and prejudice can become a disabling fear. Often immigrants leave their homes and families
behind in search of a better life, believing that the country they immigrated to will afford them shelter and endless
opportunities. However, when faced with unemployment and non-transferable skills, the ‘land of opportunities’ becomes
a world where sacrifices must be made, leading to a decreased quality of life. Immigrant children often carry the burden
of acting as translators of the new culture, while first generation children may feel torn between the customs of two
(or more) very different yet meaningful cultures. As a first generation Canadian who serves a multicultural population, I
empathize with issues related to immigration and assimilation. I guide clients to navigate this difficult path so that they
may carve their own identity and ideals.
Families and professionals working with special needs
Living and/or working with someone who has special needs poses particular challenges. Parents and caregivers
may be plagued by feelings of guilt and helplessness; siblings may feel neglected, and at times endure social
ridicule because their sibling is ‘different’; professionals face the challenging task of observation, assessment,
and therapeutic intervention. I work with special needs students on a daily basis, and therefore interact closely
with families and professionals, providing them with the validation and emotional support they need to help them
surmount the obstacles they face.