Internet and Social Media Addiction Therapy

Does It Feel That Your Internet Use Has Turned Into Abuse, Or Even An Addiction?

internet addiction therapy_2Do you use the internet as a way to cope with or find relief from stress? Do you feel more confident and connected when you are online than when you are physically interacting with someone? Has your internet use, abuse or addiction led to negative consequences at home or at work? You may feel embarrassed or ashamed about your use and try to hide or lie about your compulsive internet use to coworkers or loved ones. Or, you might become anxious or nervous that you will miss something if you are away from the internet for too long. Perhaps you began using online pornography, social media, gambling or gaming as a way to escape, but at some point your urge to use got out of hand. You might take on a different persona when you are online, feeling more comfortable in a virtual landscape than in your own skin. It can feel difficult to control your use when you feel more powerful and respected on the internet than you do in the real world.

You may experience relief or pleasure when you use the internet, but, as with addiction, what originally served to calm you down can quickly turn into a stressor as you become emotionally dependent on the activity. You may have trouble sleeping at night, concentrating at work, or find yourself online when you feel you should be spending time with friends and family. Do you wish you could understand and control your compulsive internet behavior?

Can Internet & Social Media Really Become an “Addiction”?

There is not currently a formal diagnosis for “Internet Addiction”. We use that word here because it is often searched for by those who feel their internet usage is having negative effects on their well-being. It has also become common nomenclature in the field of counseling. Terminology and classification for internet related problems are still being debated in the world of psychology.

The meaning of the word “Addiction” traditionally has psychological and physiological components. Those who are addicted to alcohol, tobacco or drugs not only have a psychological addiction, but they physically crave it as well (i.e. withdrawal symptoms). It remains unclear if internet usage can become a physical addiction; but many experts feel strongly that there can be negative psychological consequences.

It is thought by many that over usage of the internet or social media can lead to clinically significant distress and/or impairment. Overuse may lead to social anxiety, relationship difficulties, maladaptive behavior and other negative consequences. For these reasons, we believe that overuse of the internet that causes significant distress or impairment is abuse; and the inability to stop or change the pattern of behavior would be an addiction.

Many Individuals Struggle With Internet Addiction

Internet use, abuse and addiction continues to increase in the U.S., with each generation spending nearly twice as much time online as the previous. According to a recent Stanford study, approximately 1 in 8 individuals in the U.S. struggles with internet addiction. And, with nearly 10 percent of young adults and children developing an internet gaming addiction, lawmakers and addiction specialists are increasingly concerned about what many are referring to as an epidemic. In an effort to stay connected, many individuals have turned to technology as their primary form of communication. But, the truth is that extensive internet and social media use can lead to diminished interpersonal skills and increased social anxiety. Furthermore, internet addiction can create challenges at work and at home as more time, energy and money are spent online.

The good news is that there is help. With the right guidance and support, you can learn to control your internet use. Internet addiction therapy at Chupik Counseling can help you recognize how your activities online are impacting your personal life and your relationships. Our therapists can help you develop the skills you need to manage stress without the internet.

Internet Addiction Therapy Can Help You Take Back Control Of Your Life

While there are no quick fixes to internet addiction, there are steps you can take to recognize and replace undesirable and/or problematic online behavior. With internet addiction therapy at Chupik Counseling, you can explore your urge to use, reflect on the impact that use has in your life and learn how to cope with stress and manage compulsions.

internet addiction therapy_1In order to develop a strategic and tailored approach to your recovery, we will use our first sessions to complete an Internet Addiction Diagnostic Questionnaire. By taking time to recognize the extent of your internet use, we can understand if you are struggling with problematic online behavior or a true addiction. We then use motivational interviewing to identify areas of denial that you may still have about the consequences of your internet use. Once we understand how you use or abuse the internet, we create a goal-oriented plan to help you learn how to modify your online behavior. In our experience, a cognitive and behavioral approach to internet addiction therapy is more effective than trying to limit access or put in software blocks. With help and support, you can take ownership of your behavior, develop effective impulse control and make healthy choices about how you use the internet.

At Chupik Counseling, we understand that recovering from an addiction requires support and motivation as well as specific skills and coping techniques. As you explore and resolve your resistance or ambivalence to quitting, you can also become more aware of how your behavior is impacting your personal life, career and relationships. When you remember what life was like before the addiction, you can more effectively and confidently cope with triggers and address any underlying issues like depression, anxiety or social anxiety. Addiction often coexists with other mental health issues and stresses that must be addressed in order to achieve lasting recovery. We use treatment approaches like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help you develop coping skills and examine and restructure negative self-thoughts in a more positive direction.

We have been helping individuals and couples in Austin, Temple and Killeen accept and address problematic internet use, abuse and addiction for years. Chupik Counseling has certified internet addiction counselors that offer a safe, accepting environment and compassionate support so you can feel secure exploring the challenges you are facing while working toward solutions. With the right information, resources and practical skills, you can learn how to manage your internet use and reconnect with the real world.

Are You Concerned About Your Child’s Internet Usage

It can be disconcerting for parents to see their children online frequently and for long periods of time. Do you worry that your child spends too much time online? Are you concerned that your child may not build the social skills and confidence that will be needed in life? Perhaps you worry about what they are exposed to online and how that might affect them.

Many parents grew up in a time before there was so much online communication. We often parent from the perspective of our own upbringing. When parents are confronted with something that was not even an issue for them growing up it can be difficult to handle because you have no frame of reference. How do you know what is appropriate?

The internet and social media do enrich our lives and the lives of our children. However, overuse can have negative consequences for adults and children alike. Children may be especially vulnerable because they are just learning how to be socially interactive and socially confident. It is thought by many that overuse of the internet and social media can stunt that growth to some degree. If a child does not spend time learning how to interact in the real world, what happens when he or she gets his or her first job and must interact in the workplace or is expected to network at a social function?

At Chupik Counseling we have many qualified child specialists who can help you as the parent set safe and reasonable boundaries. We can work with you to determine what level of internet use you are comfortable with and help you answer any questions you might have about how much is too much. We use methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) to help your child, and to help you parent more effectively at home. Our therapists can also help older children and teens understand the consequences of internet overuse, safety concerns and why it is important to have balance in our lives.

But, you may still have questions or concerns about internet addiction therapy…

I’m too embarrassed about my internet use to talk about it with a therapist I don’t know.

It is important that you have a safe space and compassionate support as you work to understand and manage your addiction. But, you may feel too embarrassed or ashamed to discuss your internet use with your partner, friends or family. With internet addiction therapy at Chupik counseling, you can explore your compulsive internet use without fear of judgment.

What if I can’t overcome my addiction?

While you can’t quit the internet like you might quit alcohol or a different addiction, internet addiction is a manageable condition, and there are steps you can take to effectively cope with urges and compulsions. With internet addiction therapy, you can gain the specific resources, tools and techniques you need to take control of your life.

You Can Learn To Manage Your Internet Use

If you are ready to take control of your internet use and online behavior, or if you have additional questions about internet addiction therapy, we invite you to contact us.