A GoodTherapy.org News Update
Aversion therapies can be successful in helping people with addictions, who also wish to free themselves from the related behaviors, overcome their difficulties. Such therapies are commonly administered after a more psychodynamic approach is taken; the exploration of the causes of the addiction itself and its role within a person’s life is often able to facilitate positive change, but is sometimes ceased in favor of the more invasive and direct approach of aversion. Such therapy is, for the most part, handled with extreme care and is carried out by seasoned experts, as the potential for psychological harm is a concern.
All the more concerning, then, is the news recently developing in China in regards to a pediatric “internet addiction” clinic which claims to use aversion therapy to help kids kick the online habit. A growing complaint among the country’s parents is the time and energy children spend surfing the web, playing video games, and communicating with friends online, and some parents are apparently desperate for help. The Center for Curing Internet Addiction, located at a hospital in the eastern province of Shangdong, claims to be able to rid children and teens of undesirable internet-related behavior, but its staff as well as its methods are highly suspect. The clinic administers electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, to children over a course of four and a half months, charging parents extra for early withdrawal from the program.
The staff points out that while the shocks result in a painful sensation, they do not cause any psychological damage, but this is contested by industry experts who argue that the treatment is excessive, and that criteria for internet addiction is vague and poorly understood. Of further concern is the fact that none of the staff’s members possess any qualifications in the field of psychotherapy. While many work to combat the abuse of aversion therapies, especially in relation to children, the prevalence of less aggressive therapy for addiction may realize a return to the spotlight.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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