Treating Internet Addiction With Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: A Thematic Analysis of the Experiences of Therapists

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Abstract

In 2009, one of the major Dutch addiction care organizations initiated a pilot program to explore the possibility of using an existing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing based treatment program (‘Lifestyle Training’) to treat internet addiction. The current study evaluates this pilot treatment program by providing a qualitative analysis of the experiences of the therapists with the treatment of 12 self-proclaimed internet addicts. Therapists report that the program, which is ordinarily used for substance dependence and pathological gambling, fits the problem of internet addiction quite well. Interventions mainly focused on controlling and reducing internet use, and involved expanding (real life) social contacts, regaining a proper daily structure, constructive use of free time, and reframing beliefs. Therapists further indicated that the treatment achieved some measure of progress for all of the 12 treated patients, while patients reported satisfaction with the treatment and actual behavioral improvements.