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Online Addiction Help - Five Pointers for Getting Treatment

By Dr. Brent Conrad
Clinical Psychologist for TechAddiction

NOTE:    Those looking for immediate online addiction help can instantly download TechAddiction's step-by-step online addiction self-help treatment guides.

The following article provides advice for those who have decided to seek therapy for help with online addictions.

In the mid 1990s, the term "internet addiction" was introduced to the world as a joke.

High speed access at home was years away, dial-up modems offered "blazing" speeds of 56.6 Kbs, and someone who checked their email more than a few times per day may have proudly declared him/herself to have an online addiction.

Realistically though, very few people truly believed in the concept of online addiction.

Today, the concept of online addiction cannot be discounted so easily.

Psychiatrists, psychologists, and researchers now are seriously examining the idea of online addiction, and this may one day lead to recognized classification as a clinical disorder.

Increasingly, people who struggle to control their online habits (e.g., computer gaming, online gambling, browsing the web, using chat services, accessing internet pornography) have been looking for online addiction help from psychologists, counsellors, and therapists.

VIDEO: Helpful overview of internet addiction, the symptoms, & why some people become addicted.

If you are considering working with a therapist for online addiction help, TechAddiction has outlined five pieces of advice to keep in mind when choosing a mental health professional.

1. Selecting a psychologist who has expertise treating online additions or video game addictions is ideal. Helping those with online addictions is a relatively new presenting problem for many therapists, but it is also an issue that they are seeing more often every day. Just a few years ago it would have been quite a challenge to find therapist who had even encountered a patient with internet addiction, much less one that specialized in offering online addiction help. However, as more and more people struggle with this issue, it is also becoming easier to find a psychologist or therapist who can offer appropriate treatment.

2. If it is not possible to find someone who specializes in treating online addictions, consider selecting someone who has experience treating other addictions - especially gambling addiction. The psychological mechanisms associated with online addictions are believed to be more similar to those contributing to gambling addiction (compared to drug or alcohol addiction). Additionally, the methods used to help gambling addicts are generally easier to adapt for online addictions than those used for alcohol or drug addictions.

3. If it is not possible to select someone who specializes in online addictions or addictions in general, consider choosing a therapist who is younger and may be more knowledgeable about online life and / or computer use. Of course, working with a younger therapist will not guarantee familiarity with online addictions and the technology involved with internet addictions. But, compared to therapists in their 60s, those in their 30s are certainly more likely to be familiar with some of the programs, applications, games, and websites that people become obsessed with. When seeking online addiction help, it is quite important that the psychologist has a basic understanding of computer games, the internet, and digital technology in general. Obviously, choosing a younger therapist means that one may not benefit from the years of experience that comes with a more seasoned mental health professional - so striking a reasonable balance between online familiarity and clinical experience is very important.

4. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most often recommended treatment approach for online addictions. CBT places great emphasis on empirically validated interventions, standardized treatment, behavioral change, assigning homework between sessions, and modifying unhealthy thoughts that may be maintaining the addiction. Before booking an appointment make sure inquire not only about the therapist's experience working with online addiction, but also his or her treatment approach.

5. Select a psychologist who takes concerns about online addictions or computer game addictions seriously. Although becoming obsessed with an online world may at times be a symptom of another psychological or emotional problem, this possibility should be explored in early sessions and not automatically assumed at the onset of therapy.

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