Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale

Handling codependent therapy clients? Issue the Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale to assess the level of their codependency. Learn more by reading this guide.

By Matt Olivares on Jul 05, 2024.


Fact Checked by Nate Lacson.

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What is codependency?

Codependency is a complex behavioral pattern that can develop in relationships. This type of behavioral pattern can turn a relationship into something problematic, and it can make people pursue, form, or maintain a one-sided relationship that can turn into an emotionally draining and destructive affair. In the worst cases, the relationship becomes abusive for those involved.

This behavioral pattern often springs from a relationship where one person has a mental or physical illness, addictions (drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc.), or psychological problems. Codependent people are often obsessed with getting approval from others. They also feel a need to be needed by the other person, have a tendency to fear abandonment, and forget their needs and boundaries to the point that they start to tolerate being taking advantage of by the other.

Here are some signs that point to a relationship being codependent:

  • Either side or both have an obsession with the relationship
  • Either side or both have a tendency to control the other person, whether their conscious about it or not
  • Either side or both have an unhealthy, desperate need for the other to approve of and acknowledge them
  • There is no good sense of intimacy
  • There is no good sense of boundaries
  • Communication is poor
  • Either side or both are dishonest with what they’re feeling

Feel free to watch this video and learn about other Couples Counseling resources:

Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale Template

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Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale Example

Download Example PDF

How to use the Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale:

Whether you’re a psychologist, therapist, counselor, or an adjacent mental healthcare professional, if you’re handling patients who are in codependent relationships and want to gauge the severity of their codependency, then one of the clinical tools that you can take advantage of is the Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale.

The Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale is a useful tool that will help you assess your patients to see how codependent they are. It comes in the form of a sixteen-item questionnaire with the following statements:

  1. It is hard for me to make decisions.
  2. It is hard for me to say “no.”
  3. It is hard for me to accept compliments graciously.
  4. Sometimes I almost feel bored or empty if I don’t have problems to focus on.
  5. I usually do not do things for other people that they are capable of doing for themselves.
  6. When I do something nice for myself, I usually feel guilty.
  7. I do not worry very much.
  8. I tell myself that things will get better when the people in my life change what they are doing.
  9. I seem to have relationships where I am always there for them, but they are rarely there for me.
  10. Sometimes I get focused on one person to the extent of neglecting other relationships and responsibilities
  11. I seem to get into relationships that are painful for me.
  12. I don’t usually let others see the “real” me.
  13. When someone upsets me, I will hold it in for a long time, but once in a while, I explode.
  14. I will usually go to any lengths to avoid open conflict.
  15. I often have a sense of dread or impending doom.
  16. I often put the needs of others ahead of my own.

Those answering the sheet will simply need to rate themselves between 1 to 6:

  • 1 = Strongly Disagree
  • 2 = Moderately Disagree
  • 3 = Slightly Disagree
  • 4 = Slightly Agree
  • 5 = Moderately Agree
  • 6 = Strongly Agree

You can conduct this as an interview if you wish. This will take longer, but you’ll have the opportunity to have your patient expand on their answers. But you can simply hand a copy to them so they can answer it independently and submit it later (make sure to agree on when you should receive an accomplished copy!), then just discuss the answers once you’ve calculated the scores and have scheduled a discussion.

To calculate the score, you simply need to add up the numbers. Do note that Items 5 and 7 have reverse scores. If 6 was selected for both, their score for those numbers is 1.

The higher the score is, the higher their level of codependency.

Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale Example

Now you know what codependency is and what the Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale is all about, it’s time for you to see our template. The items are arranged the same way as above. There are also buttons that you and the patients can tick. It can be printed and answered with a pen, or you can go paperless and have your patient engage with the interactable parts of the PDF. Our free Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale PDF template has radio buttons that can be ticked.

If you like what you see and believe that the Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale can help you gauge the codependency levels of your patients well, then feel free to download a copy!

Download this Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale Example:

Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale Example

When is it best to use the Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale?

The best time to use this Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale is in the middle of your therapy or counseling program. What we mean when we say the middle is that the pleasantries have been made, trust and rapport have been established, and your patient feels safe enough to talk about the things impacting their mental health. If, at any point, they bring up problems with one or several relationships, make sure to listen well about how they describe them. If they talk about it in a way that makes it sound like they’re in codependent relationships, that’s the best time for you to educate them about what codependent relationships are.

You may issue the Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale to them, but before you do, inform them about it so they know what you’re using the scale for. If they agree to answer it, you can hand a copy to them so they can complete it in their own time, or you can conduct it like an interview and have them expand on each answer. The latter choice is great because you can get more information besides their self-ratings as you go along.

Once you’ve confirmed that they are in a codependent relationship or more, and the scale shows that their level of codependency is high, you should develop ways to help them work through their codependency.

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What are the benefits of using the Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale?

The scale can help patients examine themselves in the context of their relationships.

It’s possible for people to not know they are in codependent relationships. It’s also normal for them to be in denial that they are in one, just as it is possible that they’re aware of it, but they don’t know what to do. The Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale will give them the opportunity to interrogate how they feel about themselves and their codependent relationships. By becoming more aware and accepting that they’re currently in a codependent relationship, they will have the opportunity to finally start working through them. Knowing is half the battle, after all.

It can help professionals understand their patients better based on their answers.

Just as the Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale can help patients confront what they feel about themselves and their codependent relationships, it can help the professional handling them to get to know more about their patient. Knowing their current mental state, especially in light of their relationships, will help professionals determine how to tailor-fit their program for their patients. If codependent relationships are a massive factor in the decline of a patient’s mental health based on the scale and whatever discussions took place after, the therapist can decide to teach them methods like assertive communication and cognitive restructuring to help them work through their codependency.

It can be used to check up on patients after a while.

Let’s say you have already taught them the necessary skills to help them work through their codependency (both their tendencies and their actual relationships), and based on whatever exercises you’ve given them, they seem to have taken what you’ve taught them to heart. You can reissue this scale after a while to check up on them to see the progress they’ve made. If their scores reflect that they’re nowhere near as codependent as they once were, then you know that the therapy is a success, especially if it’s obvious that their disposition has changed and they seem to be in a better place.

How can Carepatron help with therapeutic work?

If you’re reading this guide, then you’re likely to be a psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, counselor, or an adjacent mental healthcare professional. If that’s the case, then welcome! We hope this guide about the Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale has informed you well. We also hope our template, if you’re thinking of downloading it, serves you well with your therapeutic work.

While we still have you here, we’d like to ask you for your time to check out the rest of our platform if you haven’t. We have loads of cool features that will benefit your work in terms of streamlining it!

One of the features that we’re most proud of is our library of resources, which is filled to the brim with a wide variety of resources that spans numerous healthcare fields, including mental health! We have the following:

  • Worksheets that you can use to help your patients apply whatever you’ve taught them during your sessions,
  • Assessments such as the Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale to gauge the symptoms of their mental health problems (or problems that they potentially have),
  • Survey templates to help you know how your patients feel about your programs,
  • General treatment plans (only use these if they are applicable to your patients),
  • Progress note templates to help you organize your documentation,
  • And much more.

We also have a nifty storage system that you can access if you subscribe to us. This storage system will allow you to store clinical documents with us in HIPAA-compliant manner. This means that even if you’re storing files with us, we can’t access them. The system will allow you to dictate who can access your files. You can store filled-out copies of the Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale with us if you want! Doing so is the same as creating backups of your files. You can redownload them from us in the event you lose physical copies, lose access to a certain cloud storage, or if your work device gets busted.

We at Carepatron are committed to helping healthcare professionals with their work, so take advantage of our platform so we can find ways to streamline your workflows and help you preserve your work!

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How long does it take to accomplish this scale?
How long does it take to accomplish this scale?

Commonly asked questions

How long does it take to accomplish this scale?

That will depend on the patient and how you’re conducting it. If you’re conducting it like an interview, it’ll take a while, especially if you’re having them expound on their answers. Some can finish this scale in a minute or two. Some might take ten.

Is it difficult to answer this scale?

The scale is easy to accomplish. Whatever difficulty arises will depend on the person engaging with it. Some will take the time to think about each item before answering. If they’re coming to terms with the fact that they’re codependent and in codependent relationships, they might have a difficult time rating themselves, especially when they’re in denial or are coming to a realization about something.

What if I’m not enrolled in a therapy program? Can I use this to assess myself?

Yes, you may if you believe you are codependent and in codependent relationships. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to gauge yourself in terms of codependency, so feel free to use the scale! Though, please don’t substitute this for therapy. If your codependency or codependent relationships negatively impact your mental well-being, please see a professional so that you can have an expert help you work through codependency.

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