Overcoming codependency is possible! As a relationship expert, for over 30 years I’ve helped those affected by abuse, codependency, and trauma find recovery. Often signs are low self-esteem, codependency symptoms, relationship problems, including breakups and divorce, or mood disorders, such as anxiety or depression. However, you may not relate to any of these, but just feel unfulfilled, indecisive, or lack meaning or purpose in your life.

Is Therapy Right for You?

Perhaps you’ve been thinking about a problem for a while and haven’t been able to resolve it on your own. Talking to a therapist is the first step towards healing.  Johann Goethe wisely wrote:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth…that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred . . . Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Still, it takes guts to pick up the phone and make a psychotherapy appointment.  Rarely do we decide to change until the pain we’re in is worse than the fear of the unknown.  The familiar is safe even when it hurts.  Often people feel uneasy about starting therapy but may not be fully aware of why or what is the source of their problems. Identifying the reasons why you’re ambivalent and finding out what to expect can help put you at ease. More

If you’ve never had therapy, you may be wondering:

1. How can someone I don’t know help me?
Talking to a trained Marriage and Family Therapist, who won’t take sides or judge you, is a key benefit that friends and family can’t provide. Many people feel shame about seeking help or disclosing problems, but actually, it takes courage to ask for help, and those self-judgments may be part of the problem.

2. How can therapy help?
Psychotherapy can help you sort out the causes and find solutions. It expands your awareness, self-esteem, and options. You will gain new skills and are better able to take risks you previously avoided, change your behavior patterns, and heal from past wounds and limiting beliefs. With situations you cannot change, you develop the ability to change what you can.

3. What if my partner refuses to come?
It’s a mistake to believe that relationships can only improve when both partners come to counseling. In fact, if your partner is a practicing addict or abusive, you may gain more out of individual therapy. When one person changes, the entire relationship dynamics change. Also, you may learn strategies to persuade your partner to join you.

4. How do I know which therapist is right for me?
Therapy is a collaborative process, and the therapy relationship is an important part of healing. So it’s important to choose a therapist with whom you feel comfortable, heard, and not judged.

Individual Therapy

Therapy is available for California residents. In individual therapy, we explore your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Your sense of trust and safety is my highest priority. I strive to understand you and help you to understand yourself, your life experience, and your relationships. Your thoughts and feelings will transform, as well as your reactions and behavior. You’ll gain greater spontaneity, confidence, and self-expression, and will experience more enjoyment in living, relationships, and work. I interact with feedback to help you accomplish your goals and gain congruence between your thoughts and feelings and your words and actions. I have worked with all ethnicities and gay, lesbian, and transgender clients.

Sessions are 45 minutes, and due to Covid19, I’m working only by telephone. Clients notice changes in the first few weeks.  I can do an evaluation and advise you on the origin of your problem, solutions, and best treatment approach, but am not currently doing long-term therapy. To schedule an appointment, you may use the Coaching Agreement, below, or if you prefer and want to use health insurance, email me for a therapy intake form to download, print, sign, and return.

The fee is $250 for the first session, which is 50 min. Subsequent 45 min. sessions are $200. Fees are due upon scheduling an appointment. If you have PPO insurance, your insurer may reimburse you a portion of the fee. Payment is via Venmo or Zelle through your bank and includes all transaction fees. You may pay by Paypal by clicking PayPal.Me/DarleneLancerLMFT to pay by credit card or e-check and add $10 to cover transaction fees. Send money to [email protected]. You can also pay via Paypal on the Contact page of my website. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.


Coaching is offered for individuals and couples outside California. Coaching sessions are by phone for 45  or 30 minutes. International calls may be made on WhatsApp. I can do an evaluation and advise you on the origin of your problem, solutions, and best treatment approach, but am not currently doing long-term coaching. If you want, I give assignments to help you go deeper with the material we discuss. Coaching is not covered by medical insurance. However, if you’re in California, check with your provider to find out whether phone therapy is a covered service.

The fee is $250 for the first individual session (or $260 for a conjoint session), which is 50 min. Subsequent 45 min. sessions are $200 and $250, respectively. A 30-min. individual session is $150. Upon scheduling an appointment, pay via Venmo or Zelle through your bank, which includes all transaction fees. To pay by credit card or e-check, you may use Paypal by clicking PayPal.Me/DarleneLancerLMFT and add $10 to cover transaction fees.

Non-U.S. Residents: International clients may telephone me via Skype calling. Payment is in USD via Paypal or via Send money to [email protected]. You can also pay via Paypal on the Contact page of my website.

To schedule an appointment, complete the Coaching Agreement. Feel free to email me if you have any questions. (For dates, click the drop-down arrow to choose the correct year, month, and day.)

Couples and Marriage Counseling:

Whether you’re dating, married, or in a committed relationship, couples counseling significantly helps resolve conflict, improve communication, and enhance intimacy. You uncover, decipher, and heal distressing, repetitive interactive cycles that lead to unhappiness and negative feelings. This creates greater mutual understanding, trust, and closeness, and allows for forgiveness.

The fee is $260 for the first session, which is 50 min; subsequent 45 min. sessions are $250 if paid via Venmo or Zelle through your bank. To use a credit card, click PayPal.Me/DarleneLancerLMFT to use Paypal and add $10 to cover transaction fees. For counseling by phone, both partners need to complete, sign and return the Coaching Agreement. If you’re a California resident, you may use the Coaching Agreement, or if you prefer and want to use health insurance, email me for a therapy intake form to download, print, sign, and return. Payment is due upon scheduling an appointment. Send payment to [email protected].

Your marriage or primary intimate relationship should be a special, sacred place where you feel nurtured and free to let go and be yourself. It should support you to enjoy your life and pursue your career and passions. It shouldn’t preoccupy your thoughts the way codependent relationships do. What makes marriage work depends largely upon how you treat each other, communicate, and make decisions together. It’s the process of relating that counts, which is different than the feeling of love. Confusing the two creates problems. Predictors of long-term relationships are:

    • Good self-esteem
    • Mutual respect
    • Realism
    • Assertive communication
    • Acceptance of each others’ differences
    • Collaborative decision-making and problem-solving
    • Quality time together and apart
    • A desire to give and cooperate
    • Compatible needs and values
    • A common vision
    • Having individual friends

Healthy self-esteem and self-acceptance are key, not just for overcoming codependency, but to create healthy relationships with others and with ourselves. They help you maintain your individuality and take responsibility for yourself. You feel more generous and cooperative and able to clearly communicate your feelings and needs. You also can listen without reacting. When self-esteem is low and boundaries are too rigid or too fuzzy, there’s more conflict and reactivity in the relationship. It’s a sign that codependency may be present.

In relationships, there are neither villains nor victims, only colluders and collaborators. Even if you’re being abused, your self-esteem or past may be preventing you from setting boundaries. You may not recognize or may minimize the problem. Some spouses withdraw sexually or emotionally. Couples counseling can help restore boundaries and the balance of power in the relationship.

Frequently, the symptom is not the problem and issues that you’re unaware of need to be addressed. In intimate relationships, there are at least six people involved – the couple and two sets of parents, or perhaps step-parents, too. From your parents, you learn lessons about intimate relationships that often influence your reactions to your partner.

Everyone projects the past onto present situations when they’re emotionally triggered. Counseling can help you distinguish feelings from the past that are affecting your present relationship. It can also help you separate your thoughts and feelings from those of your partner so that you don’t feel guilty and defensive in your communication. Seeing each other’s vulnerability makes possible the realization that your partner isn’t against you, lessening defensiveness. Couples counseling builds bridges of mutual understanding and empathy, which permit love and goodwill to return.

Many couples expect that they shouldn’t have conflict. This is unrealistic. Counseling can lessen conflict and anger, and help you learn to communicate in less hurtful ways that lead to resolution and actually bring you closer, rather than destroy goodwill. It’s important to seek therapy early. The longer wounds fester, the longer trust erodes and resentment builds. For more information on overcoming codependency and to help you decide if you can benefit from couples counseling, see my blogs “24 Tips for Positive Conflict Resolution,” “Do We Need Couples’ Counseling?” and “Signs of Relationship Problems.

If separation or divorce is desirable, counseling will enable you to manage it with greater dignity and ease. Therapy is ideal if you’re experiencing difficulties parenting – sometimes, the entire family is affected by a problem between spouses. It is an alternative option if you’re having problems with a business partner or sibling.

Dream Analysis

Dreams are the “royal road to the unconscious” said Freud. What you don’t know controls you. Your unconscious fears, beliefs, motives, and desires can thwart your goals and bring about ill-health and unhappiness. By understanding and learning to trust the messages in your dreams, you are learning to communicate with your true self, your soul, and God. Carl Jung wrote, “He who looks inside awakens . . . The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and secret recesses of the soul.” Deciphering your dreams’ symbols, messages, and guidance unlocks that doorway.

Dreams are far more than fantasies and wishes. They reveal inner truths, are forward-looking, and always transforming you to wholeness and greater satisfaction in living. They expose incorrect conscious attitudes and resolve conflicts, providing a healing and self-regulating function. Dreams can be of enormous help. They can predict a doomed romance, show you when you’re off-track or have misguided judgments, plans, or business dealings. Occasionally, dreams may be telepathic, clairvoyant, precognitive, or reminisces of past lives. Find out more about dreams here, and listen to my interviews. Get a dream analysis by phone coaching or personal consultation.

Client Comments

“Darlene is a pro at bringing the truth out of a patient. She helps you peel back the many layers of your troubles. She’s calm and serene and that feeling supplies a comfortable atmosphere to be honest without judgment.”
D.G., Los Angeles

“Darlene has an innate ability to sense what is at the root of an issue and to express those underlying factors in an approachable and hopeful way. She is an excellent listener and a gentle motivator. Each of her reading recommendations turned out to be books that changed my life. My relationship with my wife and my understanding of myself is forever changed as a result of our sessions.”
J.N., Santa Monica

“Thank you for helping me break through an emotional barrier that was affecting my whole life. When I first came to you I knew what I wanted to do but didn’t know how to go about it and certainly didn’t have the proper mindset for it. I knew from our first meeting that you would be straightforward with me and any delusions that I had could be overcome. My life was in an emotional “holding pattern” and now I have made steps towards real goals and accomplishments. I have my life back and the only way I know how to thank you is to let you know that I’m one of the success stories that I’m sure you strive for. Thank You!”
Dave, Santa Monica

“There’s great therapists out there and then there’s Darlene Lancer. She digs in fast, and she makes you work. It’s not talk therapy. I left each session with more insight, clarity, and a game plan to life. She leaves you wanting more.”

“I appreciate greatly the guidance of Darlene, and her ability to create a comfortable and welcoming environment. Her empathy, wisdom, and intuitive ability to understand and dissect through an issue help facilitate powerful growth. Darlene, you gently and patiently guided me to a deeper more accurate understanding of myself. I don’t know where I’d be had I not made therapy a priority in my life. I am coping better because my emotions don’t rule my life anymore.”
K.R., Los Angeles


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How to Stop Being Codependent – Overcoming Codependency and Codependency Treatment provided by Darlene Lancer, MFT, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Santa Monica, CA, and author of Codependency for Dummies

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