For some individuals, it can prove difficult to overcome the allure of the countless games, articles, and multimedia offerings to be found online. In some cases, a person’s compulsion to explore the web is serious enough that it has a negative effect on their work, relationships, health, or wellbeing. This suggests an internet addiction.
Internet addiction is a relatively new phenomenon. However, it has also become very common. According to some estimates, it may affect as much as six per cent of the world’s population (Cheng, C., Ph.D., & Li, A. Y., BA., 2014). Other estimates reveal that among 18- to 25-year-olds, the percentage of addicted individuals may be even higher, with some studies indicating that approximately 16 per cent of people in this age bracket show symptoms of internet addiction (BBC, 2014).
The omnipresence of the internet makes management of such an addiction a challenge. Over recent years, internet use has in many ways become a necessary facet of modern life. In addition, the rise of smartphones has also made the internet even more accessible; even the average person touches their cell phone a staggering 2,617 times every day (Naftulin, 2016).
Fortunately, tools learned through addictions counsellor training are well suited to the task of improving an individual’s capacity to live in a healthy way alongside the worldwide web. Here are two important examples of these tools.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Learned in Addictions Counsellor Courses Can Help End Net Addiction
Research shows that internet addiction, similar to other compulsion disorders, can respond well to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This is a class of therapies which address an individual’s thought patterns to promote healing (National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists., n.d.). By asking questions, encouraging self-reflection, and otherwise guiding clients to consider their life’s circumstances in a new light. Graduates of addictions counsellor courses can use principles of CBT to help improve the behaviour, emotional state, and outlook of individuals with internet addiction.
One study found over 95 per cent of individuals with internet addiction were able to recover from some of their symptoms after twelve weeks of CBT, and that 78 per cent remained recovered six months later. (Young, K. S., 2013). This suggests that CBT, which represents an important part of an addictions counselling education, is an excellent tool with which to manage internet addiction.
Motivational Interviewing Techniques Help Clients Unlock Their Potential to Change
It is common for an individual living with addiction to struggle to make a needed change. According to the American Addiction Centers, this is because “two of the most common obstacles for individuals are ambivalence/uncertainty and the fear of change” (American Addiction Centers., n.d.). Compounding the issue for individuals with internet addiction is the fact that the internet is central to much of modern communication, leisure, and business. Management of internet addiction is thus typically focused on controlling the ways in which a person engages with the internet, and not on ending contact altogether.
For progress to be made in these circumstances, which can present frequent and strong temptation, one of the most important tools for realising change is addressing a client’s ambivalence and encourage “change talk.”
Graduates with a diploma in addiction counselling are specifically prepared to help individuals struggling with motivation. Through engaging in dialogue in the form of a motivational interview, counsellors can collaborate with a client to “‘draw out’ the person’s own motivations and skills for change” (University of Massachusetts Amherst., n.d.). This is an important foundational step of treatment of an internet addiction. By unlocking this innate will to change, it is possible for an individual to overcome the temptations posed by the internet, and develop a healthier relationship with accessing the service on an ongoing basis.
Do you want to learn more about how counsellors can help clients break free from addiction?
Contact Rhodes Wellness College to learn about our addictions counselling training in Vancouver!
American Addiction Centers. (n.d.). Motivational Interviewing and Dual Diagnosis Treatment. Retrieved September 7, 2017, from http://americanaddictioncenters.org/motivational-interviewing/
BBC News. (2014, October 15) Many young people addicted to net, survey suggests. Retrieved September 11, 2017, from http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-29627896
Cash, H., Rae, C. D., Steel, A. H., & Winkler, A. (2012, November). Internet Addiction: A Brief Summary of Research and Practice. Retrieved September 7, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3480687/
Cheng, C., PhD, & Li, A. Y., BA. (n.d.). Internet Addiction Prevalence and Quality of (Real) Life: A Meta-Analysis of 31 Nations Across Seven World Regions [Abstract]. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(12), 755-760. Retrieved September 08, 2017, from http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/cyber.2014.0317
Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery. (n.d.). Internet Addiction. Retrieved September 7, 2017, from http://www.addictionrecov.org/Addictions/index.aspx?AID=43
Naftulin, J. (2016, July 13) Here’s how many times we touch our phones every day. Retried September 11, 2017, from http://www.businessinsider.com/dscout-research-people-touch-cell-phones-2617-times-a-day-2016-7
National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists. (n.d.). What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)? Retrieved September 7, 2017, from http://www.nacbt.org/whatiscbt-htm/
University of Massachusetts Amherst. (n.d.). Motivational Interviewing: Definition, Principles, Approach. Retrieved September 7, 2017, from https://www.umass.edu/studentlife/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/Motivational_Interviewing_Definition_Principles_Approach.pdf
Young, K. S. (2013). Treatment outcomes using CBT-IA with Internet-addicted patients. Journal of Behavioral Addictions. doi:10.1556/JBA.2.2013.4.3