Treatment of Problematic and Addictive
Computer/Video Gaming

 

Unlike substance abuse/addiction treatment methods, our treatment model promotes choice. Clients coming to treatment are most often seeking a life in greater balance and consistent with their values. We will support abstinence if that is the client's goal, however our treatment program does not require that the patient stop their video gaming or computer/technology uses altogether. For individuals that continue to game or use technology to excess, despite serious negative consequences, they have become stuck in a vicious cycle that they cannot escape from on their own. Click here for more information on how this happens and how treatment can help.  

 
 

Our Treatment Model

Our treatment model has three major components: Psychotherapy, Behavioral Therapy and Real-World Reinforcement. Each treatment component overlaps, and through our methods, the motivation for use is naturally reduced and motivation for real life rewards is increased. Treatment also promotes the restoration of damaged relationships, clarification of academic and occupational goals and provides the tools for long term success. The first meeting, an intake assessment, initiates treatment and facilitates the development of the initial treatment plan.

We offer both outpatient and limited stay adult inpatient treatment options. Our outpatient offices are located in Lake Forest, California and our inpatient retreat facility is located in Big Bear, California. We also offer remote treatment options through live video conference or telephone. 

We also work with outside clinicians to compliment their treatment. We can provide direct services and/or consultation in support of our behavioral treatment methods. For information on collaborative care, click here.   

 
 
 
 

Intake Assessment

The initial assessment is 2 hours and consists of a meeting with the patient and if possible also with parents or significant others. Our assessment includes patient interviews and self-reports along with interviews with the client and loved ones. The outcome of this assessment is the preliminary treatment plan. Goal setting happens during this initial assessment and during subsequent sessions. Typical goals for treatment would include behavioral targets, such as achieving a desired work/play balance and specific academic or occupational goals.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is used as a component of treatment, targeting negative mood states, clarity of life direction, overcoming issues of self-esteem and, if present, other mental health conditions. Our program uses a form of cognitive behavioral therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and has been demonstrated to be effective in treating a wide range of psychological problems including addiction, depression and anxiety.  ACT helps patients become mindful and learn not to overreact to unpleasant feelings and thoughts. It helps to address mood disorders, urges and other symptoms of excess use. Family psychotherapy can also be incorporated into treatment to help the individual and family work through relationship issues, often caused by years of conflict over problematic gaming.  

Behavioral Therapy

Computer gaming addiction is a behavioral addiction resulting from excess computer/video game play that offers greater and more immediate rewards than the real world, and/or masks real world hurt and pain. Behavioral therapy is conducted by setting real world limits on computer use. This is critical to successful treatment. The excesses of media consumption must be reduced, often gradually at a rate the patient can tolerate, as they develop new coping skills though psychotherapy. A reduction in use opens the door to real world rewards that have been edged out due to excesses.

This is accomplished by setting use limits and controls accountable to family, significant others and treating clinicians. If necessary, the Sentinel Gaming System, can be used. The Sentinel provides hardware-enforced security, allowing the individual to use their computer as the system administrator while allowing parents or significant others (and in some cases the treating clinician) to remain in full control of when, in what ways, and for how long the computer can be used.

With solid limits in place, and with the help of psychotherapy, the patient learns daily how to accept and overcome the uncomfortable feelings that arise when they cannot use the computer more than has been agreed upon and to seek rewards through other real-life means. For more information on this behavioral protocol click here.

Real-World Reinforcement

Family members can play an important role in encouraging the patient to engage in behaviors that will promote real-life rewards and are coached in how to make this happen. Further, family members may need help to learn how to accept their own feelings when the patient exhibits anger, frustration and hurt or engage in behavior that would seek to undermine treatment. Academic and career assessment and coaching may also be recommended as a part of treatment to help guide the patient toward a success identity.

 
 

The Sentinel: Absolute Limits

A powerful, proven tool for moderation, the Sentinel Gaming System is the only gaming PC developed specifically to treat gaming addiction. We can use this technology to aid in our behavioral treatment methods. 

Mountain Retreat Intensive

Our five day mountain retreat, located in Big Bear Lake, CA, offers a structured, distraction-free treatment option for adults (18+).