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Shopping Addiction Counseling

Shopping addiction is a common issue in our society, which can lead to severe consequences. However, counseling and therapy designed for shopping addiction can be an effective solution to overcome this compulsive behavior.

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Can Counseling Help Overcome Shopping Addiction?

Counseling is often the cornerstone of shopping addiction treatment and recovery. Because shopping addiction is a behavioral addiction, many addicts respond well to behavioral therapies and support groups.

Some addicts will delay treatment until their symptoms become “bad enough,” but this method often leads to worsening mental health and financial destruction.

However, with the right counseling and medication, shopping addicts can find relief from the negative consequences of compulsive spending.

Who Needs Shopping Addiction Counseling?

Counseling is the first-line treatment recommended for individuals with shopping addiction or compulsive buying disorder.

If you experience symptoms of shopping addiction or have compulsive spending issues, counseling can help address destructive shopping behaviors before they worsen.

Symptoms of shopping addiction include:

  • Having obsessive, uncontrollable thoughts about shopping
  • Feeling a rush or high each time you shop or spend money
  • Experiencing intense cravings to shop
  • Hiding evidence of and lying about purchases
  • Feeling anxious when not shopping
  • Using shopping trips to cope with stress and negative emotions
  • Being unable to stop shopping, even if you want to
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not shopping
  • Feeling intense guilt or shame about overspending
  • Buying things you don’t need or you didn’t plan to buy
  • Arguing with others about your shopping habits
  • Racking up huge amounts of credit card debt and emptying savings accounts to continue shopping

Many addicted individuals feel they shouldn’t seek help until their compulsive shopping is “bad enough.” Unfortunately, waiting to seek treatment only increases the likelihood of emotional, psychological, and financial consequences.

The earlier you seek help, the more harmful outcomes you may avoid.

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Benefits of Shopping Addiction Counseling

Shopaholics often use shopping sprees to cope with stress or mental health issues. By seeking counseling, addicts can address the underlying issues contributing to their shopping addiction, as well as address any co-occurring mental health disorders.

Benefits of shopping addiction counseling include:

  • Better impulse control when shopping
  • Improved self-esteem and self-image
  • Learn new methods of coping with stress and negative emotions
  • Address common co-occurring disorders (e.g., anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), substance use disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, hoarding disorders, and eating disorders)
  • Develop strategies to combat urges and triggers that lead to relapse

Types of Counselors For Shopping Addiction

When seeking counseling for shopping addiction, it is essential to find a qualified professional who can provide the necessary guidance and support. Different types of counselors who can assist individuals struggling with shopping addiction include:

  • Psychologists: Psychologists are trained mental health professionals who specialize in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of various mental health conditions, including addictive behaviors.
  • Counselors: Counselors often have a background in psychology or counseling and provide therapeutic interventions to help individuals navigate and overcome shopping addiction.
  • Social Workers: Social workers focus on addressing social and emotional issues and can provide counseling services to individuals struggling with shopping addiction.
  • Psychiatrists: Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in mental health and can prescribe medication if necessary, along with offering counseling services.

Types of Shopping Addiction Counseling and Treatment

Before counseling begins, a licensed therapist will typically use tools like the Bergen Shopping Addiction scale and interviews to determine if you have a shopping addiction. If applicable, a treatment plan will typically be developed, featuring therapy and medications.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is the primary therapy used in the treatment of shopping addiction or oniomania. CBT helps with shopping addiction by aiding compulsive shoppers in recognizing the thought patterns and behaviors that lead to overspending.

For example, a therapist and patient may discuss a past trauma or false self-belief to see what role it plays in their compulsive behaviors toward shopping. From there, the therapist and patient will process that trigger and replace it with a healthier behavior or thought.

Group Therapy

Group therapy can be conducted using many different therapy modalities, but group CBT is often used for shopping addiction.

The benefit of group therapy is that it can help addicts feel less alone in their addiction, as well as create a sense of community and accountability with similar people.

Group therapy can be highly successful, especially for addicts who are new to therapy or dubious of its benefits. In fact, according to research from the University of Iowa, group CBT sessions have helped people with shopping addiction in 12 weeks or less.

Support Groups

Aside from therapy, support groups can serve as an additional treatment option or supplement other treatments.

Support groups can come in the form of 12-step programs, a treatment plan first popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous, or non-12-step groups that provide mutual support and community.

There are 12-step support groups specifically for shoppers, like Debtors Anonymous, Shopping Addiction Support Group, and Shopaholics Anonymous, or a more general support group, like SMART Recovery, that can connect you with people dedicated to recovery.

Many support groups offer online and in-person sessions to make them more accessible to more people.

Try Therapy Online

Fill out a brief questionnaire and get matched with a licensed therapist.

We may earn commissions when you follow links to BetterHelp.

Take Assessment

How to Find a Therapist for Shopping Addiction Counseling

If you or a loved one is living with shopping addiction or compulsive shopping issues, finding a therapist is a great first step to recovery. Many addicts struggle to take this first step, however, and finding the best therapist or specialist can be a daunting process.

Here are some things to consider when looking for a shopping addiction counselor or therapist:

  • Comfort and personality: It’s not uncommon to try a few therapists before finding the right one. Because therapy often requires vulnerability and discussion of sensitive or traumatic events, finding someone you feel safe and comfortable with is important. If you don’t mesh with the first therapist, don’t be afraid to try someone else.
  • Specialty and experience: Finding a therapist who specializes in or has experience with behavioral or shopping addictions can help you narrow your search. Don’t hesitate to request a counselor who has the experience you’re looking for.
  • Schedule and availability: Scheduling can be a barrier to seeking therapy, especially if the appointment times make attending a hassle. Try to find offices or therapists that offer session times that work with your schedule. If you can build therapy appointments into your existing schedule, you’ll be far more likely to stick with your therapy.
  • Pricing and insurance: Many addicts cite money as a huge reason they don’t seek therapy. If you have health insurance, you can ask the office staff to explain your co-pay cost and what cost-saving options they may offer. If you’re uninsured, offices can explain out-of-pocket costs or point you toward free community resources.

Finding a Counselor for Shopping Addiction

Do you suspect that you, a friend, or a family member may have a shopping addiction? Now is the perfect time to seek counseling to avoid the emotional, psychological, and financial problems that shopping addiction can cause.

Talk to your doctor about treatment options or check out support groups for shopping addiction, like Debtors Anonymous, Shopping Addiction Support Group, or Shopaholics Anonymous.

You can also use SAMHSA’s online treatment locator or call 1-877-726-4727 (HELP) to find addiction treatment near you.

FAQ's About Counseling for Shopping Addiction

What is the best treatment for compulsive shopping?

The best treatment is therapy, although some addicts may benefit from certain medications like antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. If the patient also has other mental health conditions, treating those symptoms can improve their shopping addiction as well.

What is the root cause of shopping addiction?

The root cause of shopping addiction can vary from person to person. The leading causes of compulsive shopping include genetics, changes in brain chemistry, and co-occurring mental illnesses.

Individuals with other addictions or a history of substance abuse are at higher risk of shopping addiction.

Is there therapy for bad spending habits?

Yes. Although you can have bad spending habits and not have a shopping addiction, many addicts begin as irresponsible spenders. If you’re concerned about your bad spending habits, seeking a therapist can help you address these behaviors and learn to improve them.

What methods can be used to recover from a shopping addiction?

Therapy and medication are often the main treatments for shopping addiction. However, there are general wellness practices you can also implement to help you with shopping addiction recovery.

Other methods for shopping addiction recovery include:

  • Art and music therapy
  • Improve diet and exercise
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Finding positive hobbies
  • Meditation

What are the biggest obstacles to overcome for someone with a shopping addiction?

Advertisements are a very large obstacle for many addicts. American culture makes it impossible to avoid opportunities to shop, especially when it comes to online shopping.

Whether at the grocery store or scrolling social media, advertisements will always serve as a potential for relapse.

That’s why seeking treatment for shopping addiction is so important, as patients will learn methods of combating temptations, cravings, and relapse potentials.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of AddictionHelp.com and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

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  2. Granero, R., Fernández-Aranda, F., Mestre-Bach, G., Steward, T., Baño, M., Pino-Gutiérrez, A. del, Moragas, L., Mallorquí-Bagué, N., Aymamí, N., Gómez-Peña, M., Tárrega, S., Menchón, J. M., & Jiménez-Murcia, S. (2016, June 15). Compulsive Buying Behavior: Clinical Comparison with Other Behavioral Addictions. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4908125/
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  5. Patterson, E. (2021, November 10). Retail Therapy: What Is Shopping Addiction and Is it a Disorder? GoodRx. https://www.goodrx.com/well-being/behavioral-addiction/what-is-retail-therapy-shopping-addiction
  6. Soares, C., Fernandes, N., & Morgado, P. (2016, April 11). A Review of Pharmacologic Treatment for Compulsive Buying Disorder. CNS Drugs. https://repositorium.sdum.uminho.pt/bitstream/1822/49610/1/2016%20a%20review%20of%20pharmacologic%20tretament%20of%20compulsive%20buying.pdf
  7. Vasiliu, O. (2022, November 3). Therapeutic Management of Buying/Shopping Disorder: A Systematic Literature Review and Evidence-Based Recommendations. Frontiers in Psychiatry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9669662/

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