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CBT-IA: The First Treatment Model For Internet Addiction

Kimberly S. Young

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Research has identified Internet addiction as a new clinical disorder that causes relational, occupational, and social problems. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been suggested as the treatment of choice for Internet addiction, and addiction recovery in general has used CBT as part of treatment planning. This article outlines cognitive behavioral therapy–Internet addiction (CBT-IA), a uniquely designed model for treating Internet addiction applying CBT with harm reduction therapy (HRT). CBT-IA uses a three-phase approach. In the first phase, behavior modification is used to gradually decrease the amount of time the addict spends online. In the second phase, cognitive therapy is used to address denial that is often present among Internet addicts and to combat the rationalizations that justify excessive online use. The third phase applies HRT to identify and treat coexisting issues involved in the development of compulsive Internet use. As the first model of its kind, it can be used both on an outpatient and inpatient basis to deal with this emergent client population.