Battling addiction and ready for treatment?
Video Game Addiction Therapy & Counseling
Counseling is the most frequently prescribed treatment for video game addiction due to how it addresses the underlying behaviors linked to unhealthy gaming.
By finding the right therapist and committing to recovery, gaming addicts can find healthier ways to engage with video games.
For people deep in the throes of video game addiction, real-world problems may seem insignificant compared to the world of gameplay.
However, negative consequences are right around the corner as video game addiction worsens, whether it affects their finances, relationships, or overall health.
Who Should Consider Counseling for Video Game Addiction?
Anyone with problematic gaming habits or who has the warning signs of video game addiction should consider counseling.
A common mentality with individuals that have a behavioral addiction like video game addiction is to wait until symptoms are “bad enough” to warrant treatment. In reality, counseling can be beneficial for even mild symptoms of video game addiction.
By entering therapy for video game addiction in the early stages, addicts can address unhealthy gaming behavior before the negative consequences inflict serious damage on their lives and relationships.
The earlier excessive gaming is addressed, the sooner the addict and their loved ones can develop new coping skills to combat the symptoms of video game addiction and any potential withdrawal symptoms.
Video Game Addiction Counseling Options
Counseling is the most common form of outpatient treatment for video game addiction. However, every addict is different and may respond better to specific types of counseling.
While many treatment programs employ the use of psychotherapy, support groups, and self-help meetings to offer a more community-based approach.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most popular form of treatment for video game addiction because of its focus on identifying and addressing problematic behaviors. Many addicts struggle to understand what exactly triggers their compulsive gaming.
CBT helps gaming addiction by helping gamers better understand how their thoughts, feelings, and actions influence each other, allowing them to change their behavior. CBT is usually administered one-on-one through in-person or online therapy or in a group therapy session.
The goal of CBT is to develop a toolbox of coping strategies to improve the symptoms of video game addiction and improve the addict’s overall well-being.
CBT can also equip addicts and their family members with strategies to avoid relapse in moments they are triggered or tempted.
Motivational Interviewing (MI)
Some addicts aren’t immediately ready to enter treatment for their video game addiction because they struggle to find the motivation to commit to treatment or are ambivalent about getting better.
Motivational interviewing (MI) was specifically designed to help addicts seeking recovery find the motivation to go into treatment.
MI really excels in how it doesn’t shame the addict for any hesitancy and apathy they initially feel towards recovery. After all, the purpose of MI is to create the motivation to enter recovery.
The process of motivational interviewing includes the following:
- Engaging: The healthcare provider focuses on establishing a productive working relationship by listening and reflecting on the gaming addict’s experience and perspective while bolstering their strengths and self-advocacy.
- Focusing: The therapist and patient work together to agree on a shared purpose. By focusing on the goal, the therapist can shift the conversation into a plan of action for change and recovery.
- Evoking: In this stage, the therapist carefully investigates and helps the addict find their reason for recovering by strengthening their ideas and motivations. Feelings of ambivalence are normalized and accepted without judgment.
- Planning: Once the addict is in the position to make changes in their life, the planning stage begins. The therapist will support the addict and help them form a goal and develop a plan that best fits the addict’s lifestyle and skills.
Support Groups and Self-Help Groups
While some addicts do well with one-on-one psychotherapy like CBT, others may thrive in the more accountability-based group settings that support groups offer. Support groups and self-help groups can serve as their own treatment option for video game addiction.
Alcoholics Anonymous first popularized 12-step programs but have since been adapted for behavioral addictions like video game addiction, gambling addiction, shopping addiction, and more.
Some self-help groups require belief in a higher power. Others, like SMART Recovery, do not. Finding the right type of group for you might take a few tries.
Popular support groups and self-help groups for video game addiction recovery include:
How Does Counseling Treat Video Game Addiction?
Counseling is the most effective treatment for video game addiction or internet gaming disorder because of its focus on addressing the root causes of behavioral addictions like compulsive gaming.
Counseling can also address other co-occurring mental health issues commonly found with gaming addiction.
Whether the addict has a pre-existing mental health condition or their addiction has caused symptoms of mental illness to develop, counseling helps the addict identify the underlying causes of their addiction.
Getting professional help for your or a loved one’s video game addiction is the best way to safely address the behaviors and false beliefs that worsen compulsive behavior.
Additional Video Game Addiction Treatment Options
Although counseling is typically the first-line treatment for addiction to online gaming, some addicts may benefit from prescription medications that address specific symptoms often reported with video game addiction.
Medications like anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs can help with common symptoms of gaming addiction and withdrawal. If the addict has co-occurring mental health issues that are undiagnosed or untreated, addressing those issues can be a vital part of an addict’s treatment plan.
How to Find the Right Gaming Addiction Counselor for You
Finding the right mental health professional may feel like a daunting process. However, a few things to look out for can help make the process feel less overwhelming.
- Ask for appointment times that fit your schedule: Finding convenient times to attend therapy can make or break your progress, so try to schedule something that fits your existing schedule. If the appointment is an easy time to attend, you’ll be more likely to commit to your recovery.
- Find someone you get along with: Counselors are people, too, and sometimes we don’t get along with everyone. Your therapy sessions will likely address sensitive topics that could leave you feeling somewhat vulnerable. Finding someone you feel comfortable with will make you more likely to open up about difficult topics in a safe environment.
- Know the cost: Cost is often a huge barrier for addicts getting help. Don’t hesitate to ask your provider or office about the session cost before you schedule the appointment. If you have insurance, find out what your co-pay will be ahead of time. If you don’t have insurance and can’t avoid the out-of-pocket cost, you can ask what free options are available in your community.
- Prioritize providers with the right experience: It’s not rude to ask if the therapist has experience with behavioral addictions like video game addiction. Ask the office if any of their counselors specialize or have experience with your condition.
Discover Video Game Addiction Counseling Options
Are you concerned about how long you or a loved one plays video games? Finding a counselor for video game addiction has never been easier, regardless of whether you prefer in-person therapy or online therapy sessions from the comfort of home.
Get started by talking to your healthcare provider about their recommended treatment options. You can also try SAMHSA’s online treatment locator or 1-800-662-4357 (HELP) to learn what treatment centers are taking patients in your area.
FAQs About Video Game Addiction Counseling
Is there therapy for video game addiction?
Yes. Therapy is the first-line treatment option for video game addiction, so many providers offer counseling for compulsive gaming issues.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most frequently prescribed form of therapy, but motivational interviewing and support groups can also be effective. Therapy can help addicts address the behaviors and thought patterns that lead to compulsive gaming for long periods of time.
How do you help someone overcome video game addiction?
The best way to help an addict overcome video game addiction will depend on your relationship with the addict and how their addiction affects your dynamic.
For parents with adolescents showing warning signs of addiction, having judgment-free, open conversations is a good place to start.
For family members or friends of a video game addict, you can encourage them to engage in other activities together, like going for a walk, going out to dinner, or exercising together. Offering support while they enter treatment can ensure successful recovery as well.
The goal is not to judge or shame the addict nor blame their addiction solely on video games as a scapegoat. Video games are not evil or unhealthy. In fact, video games have been proven to improve cognitive skills and sharpen reflexes.
What are the benefits of counseling for video game addiction?
Benefits of counseling for video game addiction include:
- Addressing and processing stresses or traumas that may lead to compulsive gaming behavior
- Strengthing in real-life friendships and relationships
- Improvement in personal hygiene, mental and physical health, and communication with loved ones
- Developing strategies to handle cravings, urges, and triggers that lead to unhealthy gaming habits
- Handling other co-occurring mental illnesses common with video game addiction, like depression, anxiety, OCD, and ADHD
- Feeling more in control of addictive behaviors
- Avoid risk factors that could lead to drug addiction problems
What are the treatment goals for video game addiction?
The goal of treatment for video game addiction is to address the gamer’s mental and physical health while also improving how they interact with games after treatment. Not all addicts will be able to return to gaming healthily, but some may be able to.