Dr. Stephanie L. Diez-Morel

Ph.D., LCSW, IGDC, MCAP

Dr. Diez-Morel is founder of Reboot & Recover, a nonprofit organization dedicated to gaming disorder and other technology-based addictions.

She is an assistant professor of graduate social work at Edinboro University and an invited member of the American Psychiatric Associations (APA) task force for Internet Gaming Disorder to discuss the inclusion and impact of Gaming Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Dr. Diez-Morel earned her Ph.D. from Florida International University where she was awarded the C-SALUD student scholar in Health Disparities Research Fellowship funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Through her work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Master Certified Addiction Professional (MCAP), Dr. Diez- Morel worked within nonprofit community organizations and in community hospitals throughout Florida providing direct clinical services to children, families, and adults experiencing addiction.

Dr. Diez-Morel has received a number of awards and grants for her work on finding solutions to a balanced living in a technology driven world.

"I have dedicated my career to helping those with addictions, and will continue to advocate and advance the field of gaming disorder clinically and through research."

When I was 7 years old, I played my very first video game. It was fun, challenging, and full of adventurous story telling. To this day I continue to feel the same when I play video games, although I admit this does depend on the game and genre. It is an activity I engage in for enjoyment and during this time I can also choose to be social with a couch co-op or to connect with lifelong friends who have moved far away through internet gaming.

Gaming is an activity with many benefits, however I have also seen the ‘dark-side’ of gaming when it can transition from a fun activity to one that is detrimentally consuming to the point where it hinders your quality of life and negatively impacts your loved ones. Watching this happen to a loved one can be confusing, worrying, disheartening, and this I share from professional and personal experience. It can be particularly concerning for adolescents, as it is a time of critical growth and development. Due to my lived experiences, I care about helping youth that are facing hardships and turn to video games as a maladaptive coping skill or mechanism to deal with life stressors which in turn can lead to a gaming disorder.

"Training clinicians is a great approach to reduce the professionals gap in gaming disorder."

To become a health professional, a lot of time and effort goes into higher education. That time and effort is essential because working with human beings, there are a myriad of complex life stories and experiences that shape our psychological development and perceptions of the world. In turn, a clinician or health professional that specializes in providing treatment must attain knowledge on a wide variety of theories, approaches, behaviors, and biological factors that can influence those they provide treatment for. The packed schedule of course works and internships at the graduate and undergraduate levels serve as the basis to provide best clinical practice.

However, additional specific clinical focus and expertise is needed to truly gain mastery over a particular field. Thus, clinicians who are seeking to learn more on gaming disorder or branch out in the gaming disorder field would benefit from engaging in specialized courses, training, and certifications that expands upon the years of knowledge they have already learned to hone their skills in working with this population. I have been specializing in treating this population through Reboot & Recover since 2013, and can attest that training clinicians is a great approach to reduce the professionals gap in gaming disorder.

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