UNLABELLED Dysfunctional use of the mobile phone has often been conceptualized as a 'behavioural addiction' that shares most features with drug addictions. In the current article, we challenge the clinical utility of the addiction model as applied to mobile phone overuse. We describe the case of a woman who overuses her mobile phone from two distinct approaches: (1) a symptom-based categorical approach inspired from the addiction model of dysfunctional mobile phone use and (2) a process-based approach resulting from an idiosyncratic clinical case conceptualization. In the case depicted here, the addiction model was shown to lead to standardized and non-relevant treatment, whereas the clinical case conceptualization allowed identification of specific psychological processes that can be targeted with specific, empirically based psychological interventions. This finding highlights that conceptualizing excessive behaviours (e.g., gambling and sex) within the addiction model can be a simplification of an individual's psychological functioning, offering only limited clinical relevance. KEY PRACTITIONER MESSAGE The addiction model, applied to excessive behaviours (e.g., gambling, sex and Internet-related activities) may lead to non-relevant standardized treatments. Clinical case conceptualization allowed identification of specific psychological processes that can be targeted with specific empirically based psychological interventions. The biomedical model might lead to the simplification of an individual's psychological functioning with limited clinical relevance.
J. Billieux, P. Philippot, Cécile Schmid
Clinical psychology & psychotherapy