terminating this nurturing relationship with a caring, giving authority
figure. They often get worse or have a crisis near the end of therapy.
How will a dependent personality react to self-help? An interesting
but unresearched question. Probably they would much prefer to
interact with a supportive professional than with a self-help book. They
may be drawn to a self-help group and become a perceptive, active,
helpful group member. But, as in a relationship with a therapist, they
are likely to resist making real changes in their lives and may be very
reluctant to leave the group. Regardless of whether you are in therapy
or doing self-help, you have to confront your dependency. Dependency
has many payoffs; you must be willing to give them up before much
self-improvement can be made.
Now we will turn to the self-treatment of passivity and
Methods for Becoming More Self-Reliant and Independent
The major self-help methods in this problem area are:
assertiveness training, problem-solving, and decision-making skills
training, building self-esteem, and gaining insight into the causes of
our dependency. As in the other chapters, the methods will be
discussed by levels.
Level I: Learn and reward new behavior; avoid people caring for or
If you have learned to be a follower or to be submissive and
indecisive, you might try the following.
Reward your own independent goal setting, planning, and
action. This involves more than reading a self-help book like this one.
Just reading does not necessarily involve taking responsibility for
changing nor does it prove that you can actually improve yourself. You
must initiate a plan of action and carry it out successfully before you
can truly believe you are capable and independent (method #16 in
chapter 11). Practice self-control over and over, using different
methods, until you believe you can change things. Several behavior
modification studies, using positive reinforcement, have reduced
dependent, helpless behavior (Hickok & Komechak, 1974; Harbin,
Independent behavior can be learned from models. For
example, Goldstein, et al. (1973) tape recorded 30 situations and
illustrated independent and dependent responses to each situation:
You and your partner arrive home late. You are searching for your