Welcome!

Welcome to Creative CBT. This is the website of therapist/life coach Benjamin Mathews. Benjamin specialises in cognitive behavioural therapy via the internet. If you are new, why not check out the Getting started tab on the right hand side? Alternatively, click here if you would like to contact Benjamin or make an appointment.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Behavioural Addictions

Internet Addiction - Facebook Cartoon
I recently wrote a review for a book about behavioural addictions, and as a result I thought it would be a good idea for me to write about how I treat behavioural addictions as a cognitive behavioural therapist. First of all however, let's talk about what a behavioural addiction is. Behavioural addictions been shown to cause the same changes in brain chemistry as substance addiction, and furthermore, like substance dependence disorders, can lead to failure to control the behaviour and continuation of the behaviour despite adverse consequences.


Conditions like video game addiction, gambling, shopping addiction, food addiction, and internet addiction can have negative affects on ones performance at work and at school and ones financial situation, in addition to leading to deterioration of relationships and even basic hygiene.

Treatment for Behavioural Addictions:

Typically those suffering from an addiction may try to quit multiple times before they are ultimately successful. Traditionally with substance use disorders, those who achieve long-term abstinence are more likely to have attempted to quit previously. Attempting to quit is the first step, however, increased preparation and motivation leading up to the quit attempt also increases the likelihood of success. 

The cognitive behavioural therapy approach to overcoming behavioural addictions focuses on identifying and altering thoughts and behaviours that continue the cycle of addiction or lead to lapse or relapse. This means examining thoughts and beliefs related to the source of the addiction and about quitting. Thinking errors will be identified and challenged, and negative and self defeating ways of thinking will be replaced with more realistic and more useful ways of thinking. 
Behaviours that promote continuation of the addictive behaviour must also be looked at, and often they must be altered so as to prevent the urge to relapse. Various specialist techniques are also employed, and the therapy is tailored to the personality of each client and their own specific needs. 

Dealing with any addiction is a challenge, and an ongoing process. Recovery is something that must be continually worked upon in order to reduce the potential for relapse and the increase the ability to recover quickly should relapse occur.

Click here to arrange an appointment with Benjamin for online cognitive behavioural therapy
Click here to read about some of the advantages of online therapy
Click here to find out more about cognitive behavioural therapy

Treating Internet Addictions Online - A Contradiction?

While an individual may present with what fits into the category of "internet addiction", very often it is only one particular aspect of internet use that they wish to cut down on. Indeed, in today's world, it is very difficult to live a life without using the internet for one purpose or another. Thus the aim often becomes to be able to manage and moderate internet usage, and to be able to learn to use internet capable devices without problematic usage. For each individual the addiction is slightly different, it may be a constant need to check email or social networking sites, like facebook, gmail. Similarly, internet forums and regularly updated messaging boards like 4Chan have great addictive potential. It may be an addiction linked to online video games, particularly those with social elements. While online cognitive behavioural therapy is also done online, the aim is to reduce dependence on the particular aspect of the internet that is problematic for the client, while still being able to live a relatively normal life. It is, however, important to note that this may not be suitable for everyone. For some, complete avoidance of computers and the internet may be necessary or desirable. As an alternative to online therapy I also provide distance therapy via telephone calls.

Behavioural Addictions in the News:

Internet Addiction in the News:

BBC News: Web addicts' withdrawal symptoms similar to drug users

Internet addicts can suffer a form of cold turkey when they stop using the web - just like people coming off drugs, according to research.

BBC News: Web addicts have brain changes, research suggests

Web addicts have brain changes similar to those hooked on drugs or alcohol, preliminary research suggests.

BBC News: Internet 'addicts' seek help through psychotherapy

As broadband and mobile internet access continues to penetrate every corner of the US market, some individuals are now seeking help for what they claim to be severe internet addiction.

The Guardian: Internet addiction even worries Silicon Valley

Experts warn of the addictive power of technology

The Guardian: Can you really be addicted to the internet?

Chinese scientists have observed differences in the brains of people who obsessively use the internet similar to those found in people who have substance addictions. Is this proof that the internet can be addictive? Polly Curtis, with your help, finds out.

The Guardian: Young people have cut back on drink, but web addiction may make us sicker

There's less heavy drinking among 16-24s, but missing out on socialising through internet bingeing is a real danger

Porn Addiction and Internet Porn Addiction in the News:

BBC News: Online porn boom: Liberating minds or damaging brains?

BBC News: 200,000 net porn addicts in US

At least 200,000 US internet users are hooked on porn sites or X-rated chat rooms, researchers have found.

BBC News: Neglected boy, 13, addicted to internet porn raped girl

A 13-year-old boy who had been neglected by his mother and developed a pornography addiction has admitted raping a girl aged under eight.

The Guardian: Brain scans of porn addicts: what's wrong with this picture?

Scan images show that watching online 'adult' sites can alter our grey matter, which may lead to a change in sexual tastes... though he craved it, he didn't like it (porn paradox 1). The cravings were so intense, he might feel them while thinking about his computer (paradox 2). The patient would also report that, far from getting more turned on by the idea of sex with his partner, he was less attracted to her... As tolerance to sexual excitement develops, it no longer satisfies; only by releasing a second drive, the aggressive drive, can the addict be excited...

The independent: Pornography addiction leads to same brain activity as alcoholism or drug abuse, study shows

Cambridge University scientists reveal changes in brain for compulsive porn users which don't occur in those with no such habit.

Gambling Addiction and Internet Gambling Addiction

The Guardian: Slot machines: a lose lose situation

Once seen as a harmless diversion, hi-tech slot machines now bring in more money than casinos – and their players become addicted three times faster than other gamblers. We investigate how the industry keeps us hooked.
The Guardian: Britain's new addicts: women who gamble online, at home and in secret

A new generation are hooked on betting websites and many are unaware of where to go for help.

CNN: Gambling addiction as real as alcoholism

Millions of people like to gamble, whether it be casino-style games or lotteries. For some gambling is an addiction, a sickness just like alcoholism or cancer, that can destroy lives.

Other Addictions (Food addiction, shopping addiction)

CNN: Food Addiction - Symptoms, Types and Treatment

Food addiction is a disease similar to drug or alcohol addiction in which a chemical reaction in the brain is triggered by a certain behavior. With food addiction, the behavior that triggers the reaction is eating a particular food or a particular amount of food. This addiction manifests itself in the uncontrollable cravings that one has for excessive eating and typically involves eating salty, sugary or carbohydrate rich foods for satisfaction.

Research:

Voon V, Sohr M, Lang AE, Potenza MN, Siderowf AD, Whetteckey J, Weintraub D, Wunderlich GR, Stacy M (2011), “Impulse control disorders in Parkinson disease: a multicenter case--control study.” Ann Neurol 69(6):986-96Details

Lin F, Zhou Y, Du Y, Qin L, Zhao Z, et al. (2012) Abnormal White Matter Integrity in Adolescents with Internet Addiction Disorder: A Tract-Based Spatial Statistics Study. PLoS ONE 7(1): e30253. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030253 Details