Are You an "Over-Caregiver?"

I'm seeking to better understand the needs and challenges of people who may be "over-caregivers." You may be an over-caregiver if you are usually everyone's "go-to" person. That is, you tend to be the first person family, friends, or people at work reach out to for help (even when these people could probably take care of things on their own).  Although many people are naturally nurturing, over-caregivers go well above and beyond the normal level of care taking, even if this typically results in their own exhaustion, frustration, or even financial hardship.

In essence, over-caregivers place a high value on taking care of people. They can also find it difficult to set healthy limits with others even when this is essential for their own well being. 

This survey contains 74 brief, "Yes" or "No" questions and can be completed fairly quickly (usually in under 10 minutes). It is anonymous, and completely voluntary. Please complete it in one sitting.

Please answer each question, and don't over think your responses. If you are unsure of your response to a particular question, please simply answer it according to whether the statement is mostly true (a "Yes) versus mostly untrue (a "No").

You may also feel free to share anything else you think is important in the comment section, although I will not be able to respond to your comment personally.

Please note that this survey is not intended to diagnose or treat any physical or mental illness, and does not imply any clinical relationship between us. The questions are not likely to cause any distress,  however, if you experience any during or after taking part in this survey, or otherwise feel you would benefit from speaking with a therapist, you may wish to find a provider on a therapist referral site (such as PsychologyToday.com, Goodtherapy.org, or via your state psychological association - none of which are affiliated with this survey).

By taking part in this survey, you indicate that you are 18 years of age or older, and have read and agree to the above.

Thank you in advance for your participation, and please feel free to forward this survey link to others.

If you'd like to be entered into a drawing to win a free "Self-Compassion Meditations" CD or download via iTunes, please enter your email at the end of the survey.

Be well!

Traci Stein, PhD, MPH
Licensed Psychologist (New York)





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* 1. I feel internal pressure to take care of others in some way (emotionally, physically, financially)

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* 2. I feel good when people feel they can rely on me.

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* 3. I worry that if I don’t take care of others, they will not like/love me.

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* 4. Others in my life react angrily when I say “no” to a request.

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* 5. I was known as some version of “mother’s little helper,” or the “good girl" or "good boy” while growing up.

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* 6. I am asked to do things for people more often than others seem to be.

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* 7. I have a hard time saying “no” to people (even when a part of me wants to).

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* 8. Sometimes I feel a strong need to save people from themselves (their actions, or tendency to inaction).

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* 9.  When I think of saying “no” to other people’s requests or demands for care, I feel guilty.

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* 10. I have received criticism or felt judged when I have set limits with others.

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* 11. I tend to prioritize other people’s needs and wants above my own.

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* 12.  Few people know how I really feel, because I try not to share too much of my feelings or problems.

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* 13. I have said “yes” to others’ requests even when this has come at significant personal cost to me (financially, professionally, emotionally, or physically).

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* 14. I have given others money even when I knew they were unlikely to repay me

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* 15. When I think of saying “no” to other people’s requests or demands for care, I feel worried or anxious.

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* 16. I have gone without something I need because someone else felt they needed it.

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* 17. I tend to find myself in relationships with people who are less caring, committed or affectionate than I am.

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* 18. I have often felt like a parent to one or both of my own parents.

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* 19. I often feel others do not appreciate my efforts, even though they rely heavily on me.

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* 20. I have stayed in relationships (romantic, personal, or professional) even though I have been betrayed in some significant way (e.g., infidelity, lying, stealing, or abuse).

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* 21. Doing “the right thing” by others is very important to me

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* 22. I feel unentitled to receiving the same level of care that I provide to others.

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* 23.  I tend to find myself in relationships where I take on more than my share of the financial responsibility

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* 24. At least one of my parents was either unable or unwilling to provide adequate care for their children.

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* 25. The only time I feel able to say “no” to a request is if I am very ill.

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* 26. Without taking care of others, I’m not sure I’d know who I am.

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* 27. I frequently feel resentful of others’ demands on me.

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* 28. I worry that other people will think I’m selfish if I set limits with them.

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* 29. When I say “no” to others’ requests, I typically feel guilty.

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* 30. I should take better care of my health than I do.

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* 31. I have often felt resentful of others’ demands on me.

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* 32.  Sometimes I use food, alcohol, or other substances to distract me from unpleasant feelings or thoughts.

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* 33. I have often felt manipulated into doing things that I did not want to do for others.

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* 34. I have taken on the role of “counselor” for many people in my life (friends, family, colleagues).

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* 35. I work or have worked in a helping profession (e.g., nursing, teaching, social work, medicine, psychology, or another health-related job).

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* 36. I am increasingly feeling irritated by the demands others place on me.

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* 37. I have received a lot of praise for taking care of others.

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* 38. I actively try to figure out what others want from me.

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* 39. People have referred to me a “mother figure” or “father figure” at work.

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* 40. Sometimes I wish other people in my life would end the relationship with me, move away, or find someone else to take care of things for them.

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* 41. I apologize more often than others in my life seem to.

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* 42. I am afraid if I ask for others to help me, I will look incompetent, needy, or demanding.

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* 43. My friends call me to “vent” or “complain” more often than I want them to.

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* 44. I have felt betrayed or used by others whom I have worked hard to take care of.

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* 45.  I have been feeling more overwhelmed by my relationships.

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* 46.  I am noticing an increase in physical symptoms such as headaches, gastrointestinal issues, or bodily pain that do not have a clear physiological cause.

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* 47. I am uncomfortable with causing conflict in my relationships – even if I know I am being treated unfairly.

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* 48. I am uncomfortable when there is any tension or conflict around me, even if I am not the cause.

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* 49. I feel responsible for making sure everyone is happy and gets along.

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* 50. I feel like I tend to “catch” others’ feelings.

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* 51. Taking care of others helps me to know that I am a good person.

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* 52. I have gotten feedback that I am over-involved in my children's lives

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* 53. If my children stopped depending on me, I would feel like I didn't have a purpose

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* 54. One or both of my parents was extremely nurturing/caregiving

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* 55. Sacrificing for others helps me feel like a good person.

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* 56. My religious background places an emphasis on the virtue of personal sacrifice

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* 57. My family placed a high value on my being a caregiver

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* 58. No matter how much I give, I never really feel good enough

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* 59. It would be terrible if others thought I was "selfish"

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* 60. I would describe one (or both) of my parents as especially self-centered or demanding

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* 61. My family valued traditional roles for men and women

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* 62. I have tried to take care of people who didn't want me to do so

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* 63. I feel angry/frustrated when other people don't want my help

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* 64. I worry that one day my children will no longer need me

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* 65. I am known as "the responsible one" in my family

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* 66. My spouse/partner is very dependent on me

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* 67. A therapist has told me that I do too much for other people

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* 68. I am like everyone's "go to" person at work

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* 69. I feel a need to be needed by others

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* 70. Taking care of others is central to my identity

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* 71. I tend to form relationships with needy people

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* 72. I tend to form relationships with self-centered people

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* 73. Please use this space to tell me anything else you think is important about the how or why of over-caregiving:

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* 74. Would you give me permission to quote all or part of your answer to Question 73 in a research paper or book on this topic? (Your answers are completely anonymous and not linked to any identifying information).

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* 75. If you would like to be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of a "Self-Compassion Meditations" CD (via iTunes download), please enter your email here. (Otherwise leave blank.)

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