We offer therapists and other mental health professionals the tools they need for working with overshoppers. This includes 4- and 12-session trainings; supervision, workshops, and courses; and seminars for college and university counseling centers.
- Free Teleseminar – For Therapists, Only
- Free Report: 3 Assessment Tools for Therapists
- 4-Session Audio Training
- 12-Session Training
- Webconferences through goodtherapy.org
- Supervision, Workshops, and Courses
- Online Course for Therapists through PsyBC.com
- Seminars for College and University Counseling Centers
- Treatment Overview
Free Teleseminar – For Therapists, Only
On Thursday, May 30th at 8am PT / 9am MT / 10am CT / 11am ET, I’m offering a free 60-minute teleseminar for any therapist who is interested in this new and growing specialty.
I call it:
Grow Your Private Practice By Treating Compulsive Buying Disorder
During this teleseminar, you’ll discover that there’s a growing demand for therapists to work with clients with compulsive buying disorder, and that you can position yourself to help.
On this call, I’ll share with you:
- The #1 reason compulsive buying disorder has suddenly become such a big issue
- The critical questions you need to ask to determine whether a client is buying compulsively
- The 5 most common forms of compulsive shopping and spending
- The 7 associated disorders that can make diagnosis and assessment difficult
- Why you might be uncomfortable working with this population, and how to overcome your discomfort
Want to be part of this free teleseminar?
Click the link below to reserve your spot.
Free Report: 3 Assessment Tools for Therapists
Does Your Client Buy Compulsively? No? Are You Sure?
Our clients come to therapy for all sorts of reasons. Their presenting issues may be depression, anxiety, or relationship struggles. But just as most couples don’t offer sex as a focus area in marriage counseling until they’re asked, spending and money issues are another area often cloaked by shame. The stress caused by this problem is pervasive. The results of being financially out of control—of living beyond one’s means—can and do exacerbate many emotional issues. There are a number of simple ways to determine whether your client is shopping or buying compulsively enough to warrant making it a focus of treatment. Dr. April Benson has provided this free, targeted guide for therapists “Is Your Client a Compulsive Buyer? 3 Assessment Tools for Therapists.” Just click here to access the guide.
4-Session Audio Training
Just Released! To Buy or Not to Buy: Theory and Treatment of Compulsive Buying, taught by April Benson
A 4-session audio course for mental health professionals with readings, audiotapes, and a live consultation call with Dr. Benson
The course begins with a thorough introduction to “affluenza,” or compulsive buying disorder. We explore the culture of consumption that gives rise to it and the high price of materialism. We look at the professional unease that’s not uncommon in working with overshoppers. We then focus on the etiology, assessment, diagnosis, comorbidity, and function of this increasingly global problem. We continue with a survey of the forms of treatment and treatment adjuncts known to be effective with overshoppers, and focus in on specific tools and strategies. Finally, we take a close look at two basic and seminal questions: What is shopping? and What are we really shopping for?
The course also includes one live, 50-minute group consultation call with Dr. April Benson.
Through both the audio course and readings, you learn what compulsive buying is, how our culture supports it, what forms the disorder takes, how to assess and diagnose it, and what its various functions are. Additionally, you learn how to determine when intervention is necessary and what forms of effective treatment and treatment adjuncts are available, whether or not you personally choose to do the focused, structured work so necessary for recovery from this problem. You’ll be introduced to a variety of important tools, techniques, and strategies for working with compulsive buyers and learn how to integrate them into ongoing treatment. Finally, we’ll deconstruct the shopping process and untie the knot that binds shopping and buying so tightly together so that you can help overshoppers find out what they’re really shopping for and how to get that.
To see a short video about the course, click here.
This 12-session course prepares you to work with compulsive buyers, either as a primary therapist, or as a member of a treatment team. In the course, we carefully follow two or three clients—one of them a member of our group—as they make their way through the program set forth in To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop. You learn not only to successfully address the symptoms of overbuying, but also how to foster a genuine shift in perspective.
In addition to our primary text, other relevant clinical and theoretical readings will further expand your thinking and your likelihood of success in working with overshopping clients.
To be notified when the next training begins, click here.
January 11, 2013
The Stopping Overshopping Model: Therapy, Case Illustration, Preliminary Outcome Data
The Stopping Overshopping model is a comprehensive 12-week experience that draws from psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, motivational interviewing, mindfulness, and acceptance and commitment therapy. The program teaches specific skills, tools, and strategies to help overshoppers break the cycle that leads to compulsive buying and develop the capacity to lead a richer life in the process.
Approaching the problem from affective, cognitive, and behavioral standpoints, a wide range of techniques are employed to help each client eliminate self-defeating overshopping behavior and replace it with constructive interests, relationships, and competencies. Underpinning the entire program is the non-judgmental stance of radical acceptance, which involves seeing clearly and then holding that with compassion. From the first meeting, clients are encouraged to adopt this centuries old method for eliminating suffering.
During the webinar, I’ll present a detailed description of the model, both structure and content, illustrate the model with a vignette of my work with a particular overshopper and present the results of a pilot randomized controlled study of the efficacy of this model. Results showed significant improvement on (a) all compulsive buying measures, (b) amount of money and time spent, and (c) number of compulsive shopping episodes, all of which were well-maintained at six-month follow-up.
To access the webconference, click here, and click on Join Us (top right), and enter the promotion code
Supervision, Workshops, and Courses
The prevalence of compulsive buying is increasing and clinicians are seeing more and more people with buying problems. Dr. Benson is available for in-person or telephone supervision with therapists who want help with current clients or want to begin working with compulsive buyers. She is also available to teach therapists about the treatment of compulsive buying and will tailor course material to suit the individual needs of the interested organization or group.
Online Course for Therapists through PsyBC.com
Dr. Benson teaches an on-line course for mental health professionals, I Shop, Therefore I Am: Understanding and Treating Compulsive Buying, through PsyBC.com. Continuing education credits are available. The course begins with an exploration of the sociocultural context of “affluenza” or “luxury fever” or “aspendicitis,” a few of the tongue-in-cheek coinages for our modern-day plagues of materialism and consumption in the global buyosphere. We look at the poverty of affluence, the paradox of progress, the paradox of choice, and the predominantly inverse relationship between a materialistic value orientation and subjective well being. Next, we look at how compulsive buying is an attempt to solve intrapsychic, interpersopnal and existential dilemmas.Then we turn our attention to the etiology, assessment, diagnosis, comorbidity, forms, function, and psychodynamics of compulsive buying. Finally, we look in depth at the important clinical issues raised by this population, at the various forms of effective treatment, and at important treatment adjuncts that can magnify the gains of counseling or therapy. Clinical examples and specific tools and strategies for helping to eliminate problem buying behavior will be provided throughout. There will be an opportunity to engage in a dialogue with Dr. Benson at any time during the course. For registration information, click here.
Seminars for Colleges and Universities
Compulsive buying is a serious problem among college aged students, where it is almost twice as prevalent as in older adults. Indeed, the aggressive marketing of credit cards to college students is now considered a bigger problem on campuses than alcoholism and sexually transmitted diseases. Debt has been linked to suicide in a number of recent cases. Dr. Benson has spoken to mental health clinicians at the Furman Counseling Center at Barnard College and at the Office of Student Services at Hunter College (both in New York) about compulsive buying in college students. She would be happy to speak to students and/or the mental health staffs at other college and university counseling centers.
If you’re interested in inviting Dr. Benson to speak, please contact her by clicking here.
Compulsive shopping is a disorder that our culture has largely seen fit to smile upon. Feelings of emptiness, low self-esteem, insecurity,boredom, lonliness − or the pursuit of ideal image–can cause people to buy compulsively. But managing these feelings and mood states by buying compulsively can have extremely serious consequences and significantly erode quality of life.
As with most other addictive, impulse control, or compulsive disorders, there is a wide range of effective treatment options: drug treatment, individual, group, and couples therapy, counseling for compulsive buying, Debtors Anonymous, and Simplicity Circles can all be effective. The choice of what form or forms of treatment to use with a particular person is a complex decision that goes well beyond the scope of this overview. For further information about making treatment decisions, consult my own writings, the For Therapists page of this website, as well as the bibliographic references at the end of each chapter in I Shop, Therefore I Am: Compulsive Buying and the Search for Self.
Psychotropic medications, including antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and opiod antagonists have been used to treat compulsive buying, with varying effectiveness. For further details, see McElroy and Goldsmith-Chapter 10 of I Shop, Therefore I Am and in Benson, April L. and Gengler, Marie. “Treatment of Compulsive Buying,” in Handbook of Addictive Disorders: A Practical Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment Handbook, Robert Coombs, (ed.), Wiley (2004).
Group therapy for compulsive buyers has been reported since the late 1980s. At least five different forms of group therapy have been utilized with this population. My own group treatment model is an amalgam of three things: useful techniques from existing models; didactic and experiential material used in group treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder; and material I’ve found effective in my clinical practice. A study of the efficacy of this model has been submitted for publication to the Journal of Groups in Addiction and Recovery and two additional papers, one about the model itself, and the second, a case illustration of the model, will appear in Volume 8, Number 1, of the Journal of Groups in Addiction and Recovery (2013).
There are chapters about two of the existing group therapy models in my book, I Shop, Therefore I Am and I describe all five in detail in Benson, April L. and Gengler, Marie. “Treatment of Compulsive Buying,” in Handbook of Addictive Disorders: A Practical Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment Handbook, Robert Coombs, (ed.), Wiley (2004).
Couples therapy for compulsive buying is an extremely important treatment modality, because couples act as a financial unit and generally blend income as well as spending. Money issues are an intrinsic part of marriage and are often a source of intense and pervasive friction that can seep into other aspects of the relationship. Couples therapy is indicated when the compulsive spending problem can’t be dealt with adequately on an individual basis. Olivia Mellan, the country’s foremost expert in this area, discusses the treatment in Chapter 15, “Overcoming Overspending in Couples”, of I Shop, Therefore I Am.
Counseling for compulsive buying targets the specific problem and creates an action plan to stop the behavior. Targeted counseling for this problem alters the negative actions of compulsive buying and concurrently works toward healing the underlying emotions, although less emphasis is placed on exploring the emotional significance of compulsive buying than in traditional individual psychotherapy. The major premise of counseling for compulsive buying is the idea that insight alone will not stop the behavior. All stages in the compulsive buying cycle must be identified: the triggers, the feelings, the dysfunctional thoughts, the behaviors, the consequences of the behavior, as well as the meaning of the compulsive buying. Creating and using a spending plan is a cornerstone of compulsive buying counseling. More information about compulsive buying counseling can be found in Karen McCall’s chapter “Financial Recovery Counseling”, as well as in my treatment chapter in I Shop, Therefore I Am.
Debtors Anonymous (D.A.) can be a powerful tool in recovery from compulsive buying, especially for compulsive buyers who have problems with debt. D.A. sees debting as a disease similar to alcoholism that can be cured with solvency, which means abstinence from any new debt. Since individuals are trying to control their lives with addictive debting, D.A. offers a regimented program of surrender and recovery, a program with a spiritual emphasis. Individual debtors work through the steps of the program with a sponsor, a more experienced member of the group, using newly acquired tools in conjunction with the steps. How Debtors Anonymous and psychotherapy can work synergistically is the topic of Kellen and Levine’s chapter of I Shop, Therefore I Am.
Simplicity circles can be a helpful support to compulsive buyers, although the compulsive buying problems are not dealt with as directly as in the various therapies for compulsive buying or Debtors Anonymous. What simplicity circles do have to offer is a forum: a place to gather with others to discuss personal transformation and the satisfactions of living a simpler life. The caring atmosphere and the discussion of how to create a more fulfilling life is a healthy way to meet some of the principal needs that a compulsive buyer seeks to meet in shopping. In Chapter 20 of my book,I Shop, Therefore I Am, Cecile Andrews discusses simplicity circles and the compulsive buyer.