Contemporary Problems of Social Work


Sociopsychological technologies of internet gaming addicts rehabilitation

Автор/Author: Vidova O.M.

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Clinical Psychology Review, Volume 34, Issue 4, June 2014, Pages 298-308.

References in Roman script:

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14. King Daniel L., Delfabbro Paul H. The cognitive psychology of Internet gaming disorder //

Clinical Psychology Review, Volume 34, Issue 4, June 2014, Pages 298–308.

Содержание статьи/Article:

Contemporary society development is peculiar with its computerization and penetration of the

Internet and different information technologies in all fields of people’s life. Many contemporary

studies are directed to human’s needs satisfaction and related to entertainment industry.

Games appeared almost simultaneously with humanity and even earlier that culture. For

example, according to J. Huizinga play makes culture. He also offers to call a present human a

player, i.e. a maker [12]. Invention of computers unsurprisingly caused invention of computer

games. The more advanced the technologies become, the more possibilities computer users get.

Modern computer games are realistic. Online games contain whole worlds, new virtual realities,

where a man can live and, what is more important, interact not only with a program, but with

other users, people like him.

Psychological problems, connected to Internet gamers, are getting a global status. Moreover,

Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) was included in Section III of the DSM-5 as a condition

warranting further study by American Psychiatric Association in May 2013. In the meantime

there are still debates in scientific society. People argue, whether Internet gaming addiction

should be considered as disorder, discuss the processes of its development and behavior and

even doubt its existence.

Though Internet Gaming Disorder (also known as Online or Internet Gaming Addictions)

has been being discussed for several decades, its researches are marked by inconsistency in

nomenclature, its degrees diagnosis and assessment.

Nowadays in Russian scientific works Internet gaming disorder is often compared with other

kinds of addictions. Additionally it is noted that any interest can turn into a psychological

64 65


addiction, thus there is some similarity in processes of drug, alcohol, gaming, sex and other

addictions [3, 13]. However in recent years such an approach has been found wrong. Last

researches demonstrate differences between chemical and psychological addictions, between

gambling and computer gaming disorders.

Most researchers come to a conclusion that the subject of disorder is not computer games

themselves but virtual reality, simulated by them [8]. In case of any life troubles an addict can

turn on a computer any time and become abstract from the real world. In other words, he can

live a virtual role in this virtual world.

There are grounds for believing that gaming addictions are almost as spread as chemical ones

[3]. And they are even more spread among young people. According to Ivanov M.S., nowadays

80% of students play computer games and not less than a half of them have IGD [2].

A short analysis of statistical data, collected by us in the largest Russian social network

“Vkontakte”, has the following result: groups, dedicated to different popular games, contain up to

two million members, among them 43-67% of 18-30-year-old people. Besides, at the beginning of

2015 among registered users of “Vkontakte” more that 58 thousand people call themselves gamers

and more than 56 thousand people indicate that they like computer games. Nearly 300 thousand

users mention “computer games and/or Internet games” as their hobbies. Among these users 170

thousand people are in the age of 18-30 and 36 thousand people are older than 30.

Despite the problem urgency and its active studying in other countries [14], in Russia there

are no rehabilitation technologies, developed or adapted to online gaming addicts. This issue

is raised only in terms of other addictions rehabilitation, more often gambling one. However

Internet gaming disorder has its peculiarities and cannot be considered as similar.

The results of theoretical analysis of problem study level allow us to detect a contradiction

between a need to overcome young people’s IGD, reduction of addicts amount, formation of a

self-actualizing personality with a high level of self-regulation and absence of works dedicated

to development of social and psychological rehabilitation technologies of IGD.

The aim of this research is to determine the capabilities and limitations of individual

consultancy as one of the rehabilitation technologies of Internet gaming addicts, intended

for search of adaptive procedures of self-actualization and solution of problems, related

to an emotional sphere and interpersonal communication sphere, and also to develop

recommendations for this consultancy arrangement.

The hypothesis of the research is as follows: the decrease of Internet gaming disorder degree

can be achieved by changing self-regulation models and self-actualization procedures for more

adaptive ones.

IGD researches are marked by inconsistency in its nomenclature, its degrees diagnosis and

assessment. While Australian researchers D. King and P. Delfabbro say that in 63 studies of

Internet Gaming Disorder was used 18 assessment tools, that are not uniform nor conceptually

nor the ability to plan the diagnosis [14], then how it’s extremely difficult to find any tool

to assess of Internet Gaming Disorder in Russian literature. Young Internet Addiction Test

(adaptation by Burova V.A.) is the most widespread one. But it assesses social networks and

various Internet resources addiction, rather than IGD [1]. Other projects by Russian scientists

remain unknown and unused.

In the present study we used the modified version of the Victorian Gambling Screen (VGS),

authors: Ben-Tovim, D., Esterman, A., Tolchard, B. and Battersby, M., 2001, adaptation by Karpov A.A.,

Kozlov V.V., for the IGD diagnosis. This test allowed us to divide the participants into experimental

and control groups, however, it can not be considered completely reliable. The obtained data need

further consideration. While assessing IGD levels we used objective parameters (amount of time

spent by addicts for gaming) and subjective parameters (addicts’ attitude to their gaming disorder

and awareness of presence or absence of Internet gaming disorder symptoms).

The present study consists of 3 stages:

The first stage was taken part in by 73 people: 37 men and 36 women actively playing computer

games at least one year. Based on the results of version of The VGS which allows to speak about the

degree of IGD, the subjects were divided into experimental (38 people, including 24 males and 14

females) and control group (35 people who did not reveal IGD including 13 males and 22 females).

The purpose is to consider the features of gamers’ communication sphere. For the diagnosis

of the interpersonal communication we used Timothy Leary’s Interpersonal Behavior Circle (IBC),

adaptation by Sobchik L.N.[11] and Thomas Personal Profile Analysis (PPA), that was based

on the DISC theory of Marston W. M., (adaptation by Grishina N.V.[10]). For diagnosing the

personality characteristics of subject, that have direct effects on the process of communication,

we used multivariate study of personality Cattell’s Test (16PF, adaptation by Kapustina A. N.[5]).

For diagnosing the presence of internal conflict in the subjects and identifying the most

important areas of life for them, we used the method of Level of “values” and “accessibility”

ratio in various spheres of life (LVAR)” by Fantalova E.B.[7]. The second stage was taken part

in by 104 people aged 18 to 30 years, among them 58 males and 46 females, with a strong IGD

(from 22 to 45 points in sum of factors of The VGS).

To assess the connection between the characteristics of self-actualization and IGD we used a

variation of Personal Orientation Inventory (Shostrom E.) - SAMOAL developed by Kalina N.F.[4].

To assess the style of self-regulation and its connection with IGD we used the test “Style of selfregulation

of behavior (SSB)” developed by Morosanova V.I. [9].

The third stage was taken part in by 2 males (21 and 24 years old) and 3 females (18, 19 and

22 years old). All of them have IGD, and gaming experience from two to eight years. A series

of meetings with them were held to arrange psychological consultancy (from 3 to 14 sessions).

The main emphasis was placed on the fact that the adjustment of the level of claims and selfassessment,

and other components of self-actualization, as well as the search for more effective

strategies for interaction with other people and compensation inefficient types of self-regulation

would lead to changes in the lives of these people and reduce their computer game addiction.

Four months later, in order to check the result the diagnosis of these subjects according to

VGS, IBC, SAMOAL and SSB was repeated.

Data derived from this study at each stage were analyzed using the following methods of

mathematical data processing: Mann–Whitney U test, Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient,

Pearson’s chi-squared test and Wilcoxon signed-rank test.

The diagnosis of interpersonal communication sphere revealed statistically significant

differences between the experimental and the control groups, which are shown in tables 1.

Table 1.

Statistically significant differences between the experimental and control groups prepared

according to IBC and PPA (U at p≤0.01 is 453, U at p≤0.05 is 515 by the Mann–Whitney U test)

Test Factor U-value The mean value of the

experimental group

The mean value of the

control group

IBC Authoritarian 384.5 7.18 9.86

Selfishness 438 8.18 6.46

Aggressiveness 501 6.17 5.5

Suspiciousness 367 737 5.6

Conformable 367 5.05 7.09

Friendly 367 5.13 8

Goodwill Index 441 - 4.53 - 0.4

PPA Contention 284 8.17 4.94

Adaptation 204 3.72 6.33

Compromise 416 6.33 7.11

Avoidance 384.5 6.94 5.06

66 67


Young people with IGD are self-confident and ambitious. They do not tend to expect social

approval, are not inclined to satisfy the demands of the people around them. Most of them are

restrained and not inclined to express their emotions vividly. Also they are characterized by

wariness and suspicion, fear of betrayal and deception.

In conflict situations they come into hard opposition with another party, not willing to

agree with its point of view, what can lead to a dead end, getting to personal and explicit

aggression but at the same time allow seeing one’s own and other people’s advantages and


Statistically significant differences between the experimental and control groups was

found by the diagnosis of personality characteristics and significance of life fields and shown

in table 2.

Table 2

Statistically significant differences between the experimental

and control groups prepared according to 16PF and LVAR

(U at p≤0.01 is 453, U at p≤0.05 is 515 by the Mann–Whitney U test)

Test Factor U-value The mean value of the

experimental group

The mean value of the

control group

16PF Emotional Stability (C) 422.5 5.5 6.7

Dominance (E) 339.5 7.6 6.3

Liveliness (F) 422 5.4 4.4

Vigilance (L) 411 7.4 5.9

Tension (Q4) 343.5 4.3 6.12

Self-assessment (MD) 408 6.05 4.7

Introversion - Extraversion (F2) 381 7 5.1

LVAR Index internal conflictness 380.5 45 32

Internal conflict 332.5 3 2

Internal vacuum 409 3 2

Neutrality indicator 324 6 8

Young people with IGD have such traits as suspiciousness, dreaminess or impracticality,

they have inclination to competitiveness. They tend to quickly orient themselves in problem

situations, but do not always know how to calculate all the solutions. Also have creative

thinking. They may act chaotically in an unexpected situation. Online gaming addicts usually

select what common norms and requirements to follow and which of them to ignore. They show

responsibility in situations of personal significance but in other cases may perform their duties

without any interest.

Subjects included in the experimental group had an average internal conflicts in general

greater than that of the control group. They are dissatisfied with certain aspects of real life

situations and devalue others available. At the same time, almost all study participants have a

sufficient resource potential to restore internal balance.

The data obtained through the diagnosis by means of questionnaires SAMOAL and SSB

allowed us to evaluate the correlation between IGD and the characteristics of self-actualization

and self-regulation of behavior. To do this, we used Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient. We

evaluated the association of the results for each factor of the these tests with the factor “level

of problem gamblers” and “The harm caused to themselves” of version of the VGS and the time

that the subjects spend for gaming. Significant correlations between IGD and the features of

self-actualization and self-regulation are presented in tables 3 and 4.

Table 3.

Significant correlations to SAMOAL

(R at p≤0.05 is 0.192, R at p≤0.01 is 0.250

by Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient)

Level of problem

gamblers (sum of the


The harm

caused to


Time, that the

subjects spend for


SAMOAL Self-actualization -0.329 -0.258 -0.212

Creativity -0.205 -0.196 -

Autonomy -0.225 -0.248 -0.2

Spontaneity -0.204 - -

Self-understanding -0.485 -0.467 -0.441

Self-affection -0.251 - -

Sociability -0.205 - -0.22

SAMOAL test designed to evaluate the components of self-actualization, showed that when

level of IGD grows up, desire for self-actualization is reduced. Also, when level of IGD to rises

up, creativity and the desire for self-expression are reduced. Being one of the most important

components of self-realization, creative directedness turns out to be weak. However, despite the

general trend to reduction of the creativity level many people with Internet Gaming Disorder

still have creative appetence.

Our subjects have tended to look for external support, to focus on someone else’s opinion,

conformal behavior, but, at the same time, many of them are independent, guided by their

own principles and internal motivation. Also, they do not just trust people, they are afraid to

express their feelings and emotions explicitly. When an addiction degree increases, the person’s

propensity to establish deep, strong mutually pleasant contact with other people reduces.

When, a IGD level increases, respondents self-understanding decreases. Moreover, a person is

unconfident, uncertain and inclined to trust other people’s opinions.

Table 4.

Significant correlations to SSB

(R at p≤0.05 is 0.192, R at p≤0.01 is 0.250

by Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient)

Level of problem

gamblers (sum of the


The harm

caused to


Time, that the subjects

spend for gaming

SSB Self-regulation - -0.258 -0.212

Results assessment -0.197 -0.257 -0.197

Adaptability -0.209 -0.327 -

Modeling -0.193 -0.261 -

The results of diagnosis according to questionnaire SSB are as follows: when an addiction

level increases, the ability to evaluate external and internal significant activity conditions

reduces. Consequently, there are some difficulties in determining the goal and program of

actions and probability of an unsuccessful activity result rises. Subjective criteria of success

become less stable, what leads to psychological state deterioration and reduction in the quality

of results when there is an increase in workload or the occurrence of external difficulties. There

is also some deterioration of the ability to reorganize, to make correction in the system of selfregulation

when conditions change.

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It should be noted, that we did not detect a correlation between the main factor of SSP (Selfregulation)

and the level of IGD. However, there is some interdependence with the harm caused

to themselves and with time, that the subjects spend for gaming (see table 4).

At this stage, we organized a series of consultative meetings with five young people with

IGD. Due to the fact that they have various individual features and a slightly different nature

of these addicts’ accompanying problems it should be said about working with each of them


1. AA: male, 21, secondary education, truck driver. Long-term relationship with a girl, met

through a game. Desire for self-actualization is average, self-regulation level is low.

There were 3 meetings with A.A. about shyness, fear of making the first move, preference for

communication in the gaming environment of reality, fear of loneliness.

We used such techniques as “disasterization”, discussion of possible modes of behaviors,

visualization of a loneliness image, assessment of achievements, “things for which you can

praise yourself”, “identification of automatic thoughts”.

2. VF: male, 24, IT specialist. He is married and has a child. Desire for self-actualization and

level of self-control are average.

There were 6 basic meetings and 1 supporting meeting with V.F. The first meetings were

dedicated to problems in communication with different people and relationship with the wife

and contained typical techniques and devices of reflecting the content, feelings and emotions,

and interpretation. There turned out to be an effective discussion of what is given and taken

away by gaming and how to search and receive those feeling and sensations, caused by gaming.

The fourth meeting was dedicated to problems related to work and the desire to change not

only the place, but also field of activities, optimization methods his activities, timing, planning.

The last meetings were dedicated to the relationship with his wife and mother. We used

next techniques: “empty chair”, “letter of resentment” and art-therapy techniques (work with

a sense by visual image).

3. VV: female, 19, incomplete medical education (2nd year). living with parents. Desire for

self-actualization and level of self-control are low.

With VV there were 9 of consultative meetings. Due to the fact, that the client rigidly

in control of her emotions and behavior, great part of the work was aimed at opening and

experiencing her emotions.

During the consultation VV wrote “letters of resentment” and “letters of forgiveness”, she

painted her feelings. The effective techniques were “empty chair”, psychodramatic techniques

(V.V. imagined her feelings sitting on the chairs and, speaking on behalf of every of them, could

understand the reason and purpose of her pain, anger and fear). The techniques of confrontation,

remembering past achievements, self-comparison, assessment of “good” and “bad” personal

qualities were also successful.

The important part of the work was the desire to “make friends” with her body. For this

purpose, as well as in order to find new hobbies and possibly dating, client enrolled in a fitness

center and going to swimming pool and two variants of yoga. Working well meditation based on

not directive hypnosis of Milton H. Erickson.

4. KD: female, 22, higher education, currently sitting with a child (2 years). Married, living

with her mother (parents are divorced). Desire for self-actualization and level of self-control

are low.

There were 14 meetings with KD. It should be noted, that her condition was close to a

depression, that left the mark on all the work. Most of the time took the job with the feelings of

its adoption, because she practically forbids herself some feelings, sends all aggression inside

and felt herself is obliged to so many people.

There have been useful art therapeutic techniques related to painting disturbing images,

and relaxation techniques, acting out of emotion, until the screaming, technics “empty chair”

and painting her own offense, ban on comparing yourself to other people, compliments itself,

recognition of the right to make mistakes.

When discussing the conflict relations with mother-in-law, trying to find possible ways out of

the situation, but all attempts at reconciliation on the part of daughter-in-law was unsuccessful.

In the end, it was possible to choose only a few adequate (not requiring many hours of game

session) way to throw out the accumulated negative emotions to feel better. While working on

the situation with mother in law, KD suddenly find themselves realized that her husband often

“on her side”, though she tends to devalue his feelings.

At the last meeting was raised a question about where to take “new developments”, to respect

themselves. Were considered possible options, one of which was implemented.

5. NB: females, 21, incomplete psychological education (3rd year). Livings with her mother,

grandmother and groom. Desire for self-actualization and the overall level of self-regulation is


There were 4 meetings with NB, about her families shoulds, guilt, acceptance of other people’s

feelings. We used such techniques as “disasterization”, search variant of behaviors in situations

of conflict with loved ones, the technique of “hot seat”, “letter to loved ones, who dead”, the

technique of “things for which you can praise yourself”.

To assess results of the consultation process, the diagnosis of these subjects according to

VGS, IBC, SAMOAL and SSB was repeated. The reliability of shift was analyzed by criteria of signs

G and criteria Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Shifts are somewhat different, but the participants

became less addictive from online game, besides three of them can be attributed to the

number of gamers, who don’t have addiction, also the participants has increased desire for selfactualization.

And the general level of self-regulation by four participants grew up.

This research showed that young people with IGD had such characteristics as suspicion and

anxiety towards people, dreaminess or impracticality, inclination to competitiveness. They

aspires to independence and leadership, they are restrained and not inclined to express their

emotions vividly.

When an addiction degree increases, the person’s propensity to establish, desire for selfrealization

reduced, as well as creative direction, the desire for self-expression, independence,

spontaneity and self-understanding are reduced. Ability to modeling, performance evaluation,

flexibility in the organization of activities limited then level of IGD grows up.

It should be noted, that the recovered data should be used with caution, because lack of reliable

and proven test for the diagnosis this addiction. These data can serve as a basis for further research

in this area, as well as to develop adequate psychological diagnostic tool for IGD.

Based on the results of consultancy work, we can conclude that regardless of various individual

features, addicts’ problems are include: tight control and difficulty expressing emotions, lack

of self-expression and self-actualization, problem with self-assessment, as well as difficulty in

interpersonal communication. As a result of consultation on these issues can be achieved as

changes in general and reduction of computer gaming addiction in particular.

Following recommendations were compiled on the basis of conducted psychological


1. For assess psychological status and psychological characteristics of the personality of

people with computer game addiction is expedient to use a complex psycho-diagnostic tests.

Should pay attention not only to the degree of addiction, but also on the influence, that

addiction has on characteristics of personality and in accordance with this to develop the

program psychological care.

2. Help to gaming addicts should be aimed at attracting the broader interest to different

spheres of life, development of the potentialities, help in awareness their educational and

cultural needs and how to meet them, with using the computer, and without it. In this case

effectively used:

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• discussion of the values and interests, the long-term prospects in life and ways to achieve


• discussion of desires, their accessibility and realism;

• cognitive-behavioral technology (search and detection of negative automatic thoughts,

replacement disorganizing beliefs, etc.);

• techniques of time management (planning, up to the minute tie-day, distribution of cases on

the importance and urgency, revaluation utility daily activities, the method of “eat the frog”, etc.);

• Other techniques of consultative conversation.

3. Problems in communication sphere are one of the leading reasons for leaving in reality

gaming. In dealing with such problems, in this case expedient to use generally accepted

methods of work with a sense of loneliness and interpersonal conflicts:

• search for causes of the problem (the reference to the origins of the conflict, the discussion of

individual traits and features of behavior desired for the establishment of strong relations, etc.);

• techniques aimed at the adoption of yourself, correction of self-assessment (holiday

arranged for yourself, a ban on comparing yourself to other people, compliments to yourself,

recognition of the right to make a mistake);

• search and training methods of effective communication and conflict resolution (roleplaying,

psychodramatic techniques, preparation of arguments, an attempt to take the place of

the opponent, assessment of the situation inside and outside of it, etc.).

4. Significant part of the work must be directed to work with the attitude to themself, others

peoples, and specific situations. It is important to promote the development of adequate

ways to express feelings, as well as communication skills and behavior in the situation of

communication. There have been effective:

• techniques of art therapy (painting emotions, disturbing images, resentment, visualization

the feelings, such as loneliness and communion with it, the technique of “collage”, etc.);

• meditation techniques (breathing techniques and self-hypnosis based on is not directive

hypnosis M. Erickson);

• gestalt techniques (technique “empty chair”, “letters of resentment”, “letters of forgiveness”,

“letter to loved ones, who dead”, “conversation of heart and head”, etc.);

• cognitive-behavioral techniques (aimed at correction of self assessment, for example,

search for cases for which you can praise yourself, assessment of life achievements, etc.);

• role-playing, psychodramatic games (as acting out of specific situations and metaphorical

communication with their emotions, etc.);

• It is necessary to find individual ways to safe expression and acting out negative feelings.

Thus, this study showed that there is a correlation between the IGD and the level of desire

for self-actualization. When level of IGD grows up the desire to self-actualization is reduced,

as well reduced individual creativity, independence, self-assessment and arise difficulties in

communicating. Lowering of desire for self-actualization entails a reduction in the overall level

of self-regulations, these people have difficulty in entering into a new situation or activity.

Young people with IGD had such characteristics as suspicion and anxiety towards people. In

conflict situations they come into hard opposition with another party. Addict had an average

internal conflict in general greater than players without addiction.

During the of psychological counseling can be found more productive and adaptive ways and

means of self-actualization, than used, that, as well as support in solving the problems of the

emotional sphere and interpersonal communication, leads to better life situation addict and

online gambling addiction reduce.

Ключевые слова/Tags1: Internet gaming disorder, Pathological video gaming; Internet addiction; self-actualization, self -regulation, communication, interaction