Counseling in Alexandria, VA for Internet Addiction—Therapists
Neal did not want to be driving to a therapy appointment, but his parents insisted. They were concerned. Neal did not see what the issue was. As they sat down with the counselor, Neal’s parents started to explain. A year ago, Neal loved school and would often stay after for practice, a study group, or club meeting. Now, he is often late to class in the mornings because he stays up late. They said that Neal comes home right after school and is on his computer all evening and late into the night. In the past few months, he has also lost a lot of weight. Neal’s parents said that they are most worried for Neal’s safety. They are concerned about these changes, but they are also concerned about who he is meeting online. After they finished sharing their point of view, the therapist could see Neal was annoyed. He asked for a moment to speak with Neal alone. The therapist explained to Neal that he wanted to hear about this past year from Neal’s point of view. He thought for a moment and then made a brave decision. Neal decided to share about how his friends had excluded him. They ignored him at school and stopped inviting him to hang out. Neal’s therapist could see that he was facing a lot of serious situations in his life. The therapist explained to Neal what Internet addiction was. A lot of people go online to cope with hard circumstances, but there is a better way. With the accessibility of the Internet, more and more people are developing an addiction, but many people are also reaching out for the help they need.
“Turn off your email; turn off your phone; disconnect from the Internet; figure out a way to set limits so you can concentrate when you need to, and disengage when you need to. Technology is a good servant but a bad master.” —Gretchen Rubin
Thriveworks Alexandria has seen many people who are wrestling with when, how, and where they use the Internet. Our therapists have helped many learn healthy coping skills and how to take back control of their life online.
Obsessively Using the Internet
Unlimited data plans. Smartphone. Tablets. Laptops. It is not difficult for most people to access the Internet. Many people can unplug, set their phone down, close their laptop, and walk away without difficulty. Many people struggle. They may reach for their phone during dinner with friends; they may be losing control of what they do online; they may scroll through social media while never feeling satisfied. Internet addiction is much like a gambling addiction or a shopping addiction. There may not be a substance, but there is dependency.
As early as 1995, mental health professionals were proposing the idea that people could use the Internet compulsively. Even during the days of dial-up, people were displaying behavior that paralleled addiction. By 1998, Dr. Kimberly Young had developed diagnostics. When an individual displayed at least five of the following, they may be addicted to the Internet:
- The inability to curb or stop internet use.
- An obsession with the Internet.
- Staying online for longer than one planned.
- Putting one’s personal relationships or professional work at risk because of Internet use.
- Escalating the time spent online in order to feel satisfied with one’s use.
- Regulating one’s mood with the Internet.
- When not online, feeling irritable, moody, or depressed.
- Lying to loved ones about when and/or how much one uses the Internet.
Mental health professionals realized that Internet addiction can also show itself in many different ways, including:
- Cybersex addiction: Going the Internet for porn and/or sex in a compulsive way.
- Net compulsions: Losing control over online shopping, gambling, or day-trading.
- Computer addiction: Obsessively playing online video games.
- Information addiction: Endlessly looking at social media, searching databases, and surfing websites.
- Cyber-relationship addiction: Enmeshed online relationships.
Emotional and Physical Effects of Internet Addiction
There are a number of problems that compulsively using the Internet can cause for an individual in their real life. Physically, Internet addiction can result in challenges such as…
- Poor personal hygiene (e.g., not bathing)
- Weight gain or loss
- Dry eyes and other vision problems
- Neck pain
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Poor nutrition (forgetting to eat or eating excessively)
Emotionally, Internet addiction can result in challenges such as…
- Avoidance of work
- Inability to keep to a schedule
- Feelings of guilt
- Losing a sense of time
- Mood swings
- Feelings of elation when using the Internet
Scheduling Help at Thriveworks Alexandria for Internet Addiction
There are many resources available to people who have an Internet addiction, and often, a mental health professional can help them find the right treatment options. At Thriveworks Alexandria, each client receives individualized care. We know that some clients who struggle with Internet compulsions need a support groups; others need medication; other benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; many need a combination of all three. Our therapists have helped many clients find the help they needed.
When you contact our office, know that we accept many different forms of insurance. New clients often have their first appointment within 24 hours. We also offer evening and weekend sessions, but we do not keep a waitlist. Our hope is that every client receives the help they need when they need it. Let’s work together.