Treatment efficacy of a specialized psychotherapy program for Internet Gaming Disorder

J Behav Addict. 2018 Dec 1;7(4):939-952. doi: 10.1556/2006.7.2018.111. Epub 2018 Nov 14.


Background and aims: Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) has become health concern around the world, and specialized health services for the treatment of IGD are emerging. Despite the increase in such services, few studies have examined the efficacy of psychological treatments for IGD. The primary aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of a specialized psychotherapy program for adolescents with IGD [i.e., the "Programa Individualizado Psicoterapéutico para la Adicción a las Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación" (PIPATIC) program].

Methods: The sample comprised 31 adolescents (aged 12-18 years) from two public mental health centers who were assigned to either the (a) PIPATIC intervention experimental group or (b) standard cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) control group. The interventions were assessed at pre-, middle-, and post-treatment phases, as well as a 3-month assessment was carried out after completing the interventions.

Results: No significant differences between either group in the pre-treatment phase were found. Relating to the different interventions examined, significant differences were found at pre-test and post-test on the following variables: comorbid disorders, intrapersonal and interpersonal abilities, family relationships, and therapists' measures. Both groups experienced a significant reduction of IGD symptoms, although the PIPATIC group experienced higher significant improvements in the remainder of the variables examined.

Discussion and conclusions: The findings suggest that PIPATIC program is effective in the treatment of IGD and its comorbid disorders/symptoms, alongside the improvement of intra- and interpersonal abilities and family relationships. However, it should also be noted that standard CBT was also effective in the treatment of IGD. Changing the focus of treatment and applying an integrative focus (including the addiction, the comorbid symptoms, intra- and interpersonal abilities, and family psychotherapy) appear to be more effective in facilitating adolescent behavior change than CBT focusing only on the IGD itself.

Keywords: Internet Gaming Disorder; adolescence; cognitive-behavioral therapy; gaming disorder treatment; video game.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Behavior, Addictive / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Treatment Outcome*
  • Video Games*

Grants and funding

Funding sources: This study was supported by personal Blanquerna Research Grant (BRB) to AT-R.