Encouraging Treatment Participation

 

Encouraging a loved one to initially participate in treatment can be difficult. This is why most will never get adequate care.  If you are reading this page, it is because you want to help in getting your loved one into treatment. We suggest that you simply sit down with your loved one, explain your concerns and ask them to participate. Explain that what they have done so far has not worked and they can't do it alone. Review the costs (not just financial) to them of this problem. The years lost, the occupational and/or academic failure, the isolation, friends moving on, hurt and damage to the family relationships.

Explain that the goal of treatment is not necessarily abstinence (unless that is what they want). It is about learning the skills to lead a balanced life. Explain that treatment is relatively short term. Residential treatment is only 5 days and after care requires minimal involvement on their part. Explain that this process is designed to help them move forward with their life.

If they still refuse, we recommend that you suggest they starting thinking about how they are going to support themselves in the future. You wont continue to support them. 
 

Myth: You can't get better unless you agree you have a problem and want to get better

Fact: Individuals can benefit from treatment even if they initially believe they don't need help

The vast majority of the clients come to treatment not believing they have a problem and certainly don’t want to be in treatment.
Many come to treatment afraid that we want to take their gaming away. While this may have been suggested before by others, our program does not promote abstinence unless that is their goal. Most clients prefer, instead, to work towards successfully integrating video gaming/technology use into an expansive life consistent with their values.

If you are struggling to encourage your loved one to participate in treatment, we can consult with you to develop a plan to increase the chance they will participate. Here are some additional ideas to help you make this happen: 

 

Children and Adolescents

If your child is a minor, they need not agree to treatment.  That said, we STRONGLY dissuade you from simply bringing them with no warning to our office. We have seen this happen and it may not go well! We suggest that you tell them that you want to see a counselor with them because of the problems they are having with gaming too much, poor school performance, family conflict, sleep issues, etc.. You need not tell them any more than that. Our office is purposely non-descript with no visible trace of anything related to video game addiction. 

If your child is violently opposed to a "doctor's visit", we can provide coaching with the parents and consultation with the child's treating clinicians (i.e. therapists, psychiatrists) to coordinate care. The goal under these conditions is to facilitate a home environment that promotes a reduction in the dependency on technology. Depending on where you live, an in-home visit treatment option may also be available.

If you do not have full time physical and medical care custody of your child, we will of course need the consent to treat from the other parent. We appreciate the difficulties of co-parenting, especially when both parents do not see the problem the same way. In this case we suggest parent counseling first so that both parents are on the same page and are supporting treatment. Fortunately we have developed the tools to make managing technology use across households transparent, consistent and reliable. 


Adult child living with you and receiving financial support

If your child is an adult and depends on you for financial  support, treatment can be made a condition of your continued support. We suggest you meet with your child, explain your concerns about their future and give them the following two choices:

1. Move out, be on your own. What they legally own, they can take. If the title to the car they drive is not in their name, it is not their property. You can sell the car.
If you choose this option but do not move out within 7 days, then the local police authorities will be called to have you removed from the home.  
WARNING - DO NOT OFFER TO RENT THEM AN APARTMENT OR COSIGN ANYTHING TO ENCOURAGE THEM TO LEAVE

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2. Agree to live in the home under a set of conditions. These conditions include the active participation in treatment and agree to the treatment recommendations made. These recommendations may require that you:
a. Seek employment
b. Apply for and attend college or trade school
c. Start paying your way (rent, utilities, car, insurance, etc.) 
d. Make gaming/media use contingent on meeting responsibilities/goals/milestones
e. Limit gaming/media use to certain levels.

Note: Parents would be financially responsible for paying for treatment and retain the right to choose the treatment provider. If the child is unable to limit gaming/media use to agreed-upon levels, they would then be required to turn over all their technology devices (smartphone, laptop, gaming console, desktop system) to the parents to be stored off site. They will be returned when the child is moving out or when the parent decide it is appropriate. A flip phone and a single computing device (i.e. Sentinel Gaming System) with hardware limit settings will be provided for their use.


I you find yourself thinking "I could never do that", we understand. There is no easy answer. If it was easy, you wouldn't be seeking help. We can provide counseling and advisement to parents and significant others in support of this type of intervention. An in home intervention, which we can facilitate, may also be useful in this case.


Adult child away at college (not living with you) and receiving financial support

If your child is away at college and failing school, you need to take action right away. Do not simply accept their promise to do better next time. This cycle of withdrawal, readmission and withdrawal can have dire consequences. We have seen students permanently lose their college admission, incur over $150,000 in student loans and lose any chance of graduating (or even transferring college credits) because treatment did not happen soon enough. Sadly, an all too common scenario we see is the college student that fails out of university and then fails the first year of community college upon returning home. 

There is no simple solution to this problem. We recommend you contact us right away to discuss your options.


Adult child not living with you and is receiving financial support from you

If your child is an adult and depends on your financial  support (even partially), treatment can be made a condition of your continued support. We suggest you meet with your child, explain your concerns about their future and give them the following choices:

1. Be on your own with NO future support. What they legally own, they can have. If the title to the car they drive is not in their name, it is not their property. You can sell the car. If problematic gaming/technology use is resulting in them being un/underemployed, then continued support without treatment will simply perpetuate the problem.
WARNING - DO NOT OFFER THEM MONEY, PREPAY RENT OR COSIGN ANYTHING IN ORDER TO FEEL LESS GUILTY.

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2. Agree to move back home and live under a set of conditions. These conditions include the active participation in treatment (at least weekly) and agree to the treatment recommendations made. These recommendations may require that you:
a. Seek employment
b. Apply for and attend college or trade school
c. Start paying your way (rent, utilities, car, insurance, etc.) 
d. Make gaming/media use contingent on meeting responsibilities/goals/milestones
e. Limit gaming/media use to certain levels.

Note: Parents would be financially responsible for paying for treatment and retain the right to choose the treatment provider. If the child is unable to limit gaming/media use to agreed-upon levels, they would then be required to turn over all their technology devices (smartphone, laptop, gaming console, desktop system) to the parents to be stored off site. They will be returned when the child is moving out or when the parent decide it is appropriate. A flip phone and a single computing device (i.e. Sentinel Gaming System) with hardware limit settings will be provided for their use.

If having your child live at home is not an option, give us a call to discuss other possibilities.


Adult child not living with you and not receiving financial support

If your child is on their own and not receiving financial support from you have little to motivate them to participate other than the nature of your relationship with them. You may have already recommended they seek help and they refused.

If your child is struggling financially, you can offer to let them move back home provided they do so under the condition of participating in treatment. If they are self-sufficient and you have maintained a strong relationship, you can simply ask them to join you in family counseling. Tell them there are things that you would like to discuss with them that you do not feel comfortable talking about without professional help.    


Your spouse or
significant other needs help

If your spouse or significant other is struggling with problematic gaming and they refuse to participate in treatment, we recommend couples counseling.  Although we can provide such counseling,  you may want to choose someone in your local area that you feel comfortable with and that will be an ongoing resource to your relationship. If your partner refuses couples counseling, then we suggest you seek individual therapy to help you work through the difficult choices you have ahead. 

If you are unsure of whether your concerns over your partner's gaming/technology use are justified, we will be glad to discuss this with you privately. As the average age of video gamers increase these issues will grow and what is "normal" will evolve.