Internet Addiction in Cambridge, MA—Therapy and Counseling
Ken was fuming. He told his therapist about what happened. Ken was at a his son’s soccer game. He was feeling stressed about work, so Ken pulled out his phone. He wanted to catch up on some email. Before he knew it, the game was over, and he and his son were driving home. Ken’s son, however, was clearly upset. He yelled at Ken that he is always on his phone or laptop. Ken’s son said that he is never there because he’s always online. Ken told his therapist that his son’s accusation is very unfair. Ken tries his best to be good at his job and be there for his family. Yes, he is on his phone a lot, but why is that a problem? Ken’s therapist said that is a great question. In order to help Ken get more information about what he may or may not be facing, his therapist asked him to pay attention to when he was using the Internet on his laptop or phone. Next week, Ken’s therapist asked how it went. Ken, like many people, was struggling. He was online almost all the time, even until late at the night. Ken’s therapist let him know what Internet addiction was, and they devised a place for him to regain control over when and where he was online.
“Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.”
Ken is not the only one who is using the Internet compulsively. When people are addicted to the Internet they may have trouble regulating when, where, and how long they are online. They may also have difficulty controlling what they are doing online. In many ways, Internet addiction is very similar to other behavior-based addictions, like gambling and shopping. Those similarities include symptoms, but they also include treatments. Internet addiction is a serious mental health challenge, but there are treatments available.
Thriveworks Cambridge has helped many people who are struggling to unplug, and we have guided them toward the resources and support they needed to regain control.
Going Online Compulsively
Data plans are often unlimited, and Internet is often high-speed. Wifi is now on planes and in cars and pretty much anywhere and everywhere. Without question, people are online more and more. Internet addiction, however, is not always about access. Mental health professionals first introduced the idea that using the Internet could be addictive in the mid-1990s—in the days of dial-up. The criteria for recognizing compulsive Internet use was also developed in the late 1990s by Dr. Kimberly S. Young. She proposed that an individual who displayed at least five of the following signs may be addicted to the Internet. These signs overlap substantially with other types of addiction:
- Risk: Jeopardizing one’s career, relationships, finances, and more in order to use the Internet or with what one does online.
- Obsession: Being engrossed with the Internet and thinking about it constantly.
- Lost Control: Staying online longer than one intended to be there—losing track of where one has been or how long one has been there.
- Escalation: In order to reach a feeling of satisfaction, taking greater risk or spending more time online.
- Deception: Lying about the Internet—when, where, and how much one is online; what one does online; minimizing the effects of one’s Internet use, et cetera.
- Self-medication: Going online to adjust one’s mood or to numb hard feelings.
- Difficult Emotions: Experiencing irritability, moodiness, or depression when not online.
- Failed Attempts to Quit: Wanting to quit or curb one’s Internet use, but being unable to do so.
There are several sub-categories of Internet addiction. In can manifest in unique ways in each individual. For some, Internet can look like lost control over online gambling, day-trading, or shopping. For others, it may look like compulsive pornography use or video gaming. It may even look like thoughtlessly scrolling through websites and social media. Whatever form the compulsion may take, there are treatments available. Just as the addiction can manifest differently in each individual’s life, so the best treatment is often tailored to an individual’s need. That treatment often includes a form of therapy, medication, and/or support group.
Internet Addiction at Thriveworks Cambridge: Scheduling an Appointment
If you are struggling to control when you are online and what you do there, you are not alone. Other people are having a hard time as well, and there are a number of resources available. Often, the first step toward healing is to work with a mental health professional. Skilled therapists can often help people find the right treatment that meets their unique needs.
When you call Thriveworks Cambridge, one of our scheduling specialists will answer. They will help you make an appointment, and you may be meeting with your counselor the following day. We do not put our clients on a waitlist, but we do offer them weekend and evening appointments. Our therapists are also credentialed with many different insurance companies and able to accept many different insurance plans. Let’s work together. Contact us today.