NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Q: I'm a compulsive spender. I went to several weekly meetings and thought I'd curbed my shopping problem. Recently I've been seeing similar behavior patterns pop up including increased online purchasing. It's been difficult to get myself back to a meeting...I'm so ashamed. How can I get the treatment I know I need without feeling like I've failed?
A: In the age of consumerism, marked by seemingly unlimited credit and then massive debt, compulsive spending problems have become a very commonplace topic in the therapist's office.
For the purpose of this discussion, let's say you do have an addiction, which you loosely define as a "shopping problem." Whether you want to accept this or not, one of the main features of addiction is relapse. The key is learning from it and moving on.
My suggestion is a two-fold approach:
- 1. Regular attendance at self-help meetings.
- 2. Weekly sessions with an addiction psychotherapist.
- 1. Examining the link between obsessive thoughts and repetitive behaviors.
- 2. Addressing the accompanying depressive symptoms through identifying triggers and establishing coping skills.
- 3. Exploring ways to effectively process anger in a constructive fashion.
- 4. Reestablishing meaningful relationships with supportive family members and friends.