Choose Your Own Adventure: Motivational Interviewing for Online Addictions

Children and Screens

“Motivational Interviewing” (“MI”) is an evidence-supported counseling method for the treatment of substance abuse disorders. It helps patients to resolve ambivalence in order to find the motivation needed to change their behaviors. While there are significant differences between the goals and challenges of treating substance use disorders (“SUD”) and treating online addictions, there are enough similarities to support analogous approaches to individual psychotherapy. In both contexts, the typical addicted patient is ambivalent toward change and treatment, and his or her behavior is renounced by numerous authority figures who fail to encourage the addict’s generation of insights from within. Based on these similarities, and since the epidemiology and neuropathology of substance abuse and Internet gaming disorders have much in common, treatment for both of them should incorporate a regimen of individual and group psychotherapy techniques proven effective for substance abuse. Specifically, MI should be a component of any treatment strategy for online addictions. It also should be used to encourage a healthy relationship with technology (to prevent relapses).