(717)737-9068 Free Consultation * 24 Hour Services Available 

"For appointments in Pennsylvania please click here"
 Table of Contents
 Emotional Problems
  Lack of Confidence
 Eating Disorders
  Binge Eating
  Eating and Weight
  Emotional Eating

  Excess Weight

  Weight Control

  Loved Ones
  Separation / Divorce
  Drug and Alcohol
  Sex / Pornography
  Spending / Shopping
Behavioral Problems
  Adjustment Disorder
  Conduct Disorders
  Explosive Disorder
  Multiple Personality
  Sleep Disorders
 Phobias and Fears
  Fears and Phobias
  Panic Attacks
  Social Phobia
  Performance Anxiety
  List Of Phobias
 Sexual Concerns
  Sexual Concerns (M)
  Sexual Concerns (F)
  Gay and Lesbian
  Gender Identity Issues
  Sexual Orientation
  List of Paraphilias
Helpful Information
  Communication Skills
  Non-Verbal Comm...
  Personal Growth
  Skill Enhancement
Adoption / Infertility
  For Adoptees
  For Adopting Persons
  For Birth Parents
Work Addiction

Work Addiction

Work Addiction

A "workaholic" is another name for someone who has a work addiction.  For a work addict, work is the one significant and overriding activity in their life. While the work addict spends almost all of their time in work, typically any success does not result in pleasure or a reduction in the time and energy they spend on work.  The work addict just keeps right on working and avoiding other activities.

Understanding Work Addiction

I you are a person with a work addiction, a “workaholic,” you are probably incessantly driven. Work is the one organizing and effective activity in your life: however, the relentless pursuit of work and the attainment of material gain most likely does not result in lasting pleasure.

If you work hard, spend large amounts of time on work, and feel satisfied from working hard, you are not necessarily a work addict. What does define a work addict is that work becomes an obsession and prevents you from establishing and maintaining healthy relationships and interests outside of work. 

Typically a work addict is too preoccupied with work to be involved with friends and family, they severely control and restrict their social life and may even overlook health issues.  The work addict may go on a vacation but will do so very reluctantly and, while on the vacation, they are preoccupied with work and are unable to relax and enjoy anything but work.

As with any other addictions there is often a lack of understanding as to how their work addiction affects themselves and others. Like other addictions, a work addiction affects the workaholic’s social life and restricts his or her personal freedom and happiness. In fact, excessive work can be a means to withdraw from relationships, to manipulate relationships by limiting one’s availability, or to regulate relationships so that not too much is expected.

No other addiction is so willingly adopted, rewarded and praised by society as the addiction to work. It can prove to be confusing issue since the work addict may appear or claim to only be looking after their family and trying to meet all their needs. Typically, society measures us by what we do, rather than by who/how we are and what we believe. Clearly some occupations are considered in a different class than others. Sadly all this can lead us to believe that the predetermining factor to our sense of self-worth is measured by what we do.

Are You a Work Addict?

Work addiction is an addictive pattern like any other addiction. The specific cause of a work addiction is obviously related to the person and their past.  However, typically the general cause is the same as other addictions; the root is our unfulfilled or unmet needs. The feeling within us is that we have to achieve a certain standard, or amount of work before we can become accepted as a person. The belief is that we are of little worth as we are, on our own.

Typically, the work addict may have feelings of low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy, the result being that the person keeps striving trying to do more and better. Work may also provide us with temporary relief from pain from a broken relationship, or from boredom or guilt or many other feelings we may want to avoid.

It is also common that the work addict is driven to perform even harder and accomplish even more due to the inability to relax, feel, and smell the scent of today’s success. These intense work schedules and associated behaviors can be symptomatic of underlying issues, insecurities, and a skewed self-image. In many instances, the workaholic behaviors are self-imposed, but not based on an accurate perception of oneself. The work addict can also use work much like the alcoholic uses liquor to self-medicate, manage, control and avoid feelings.

The following test (adapted from Lawyers Assistance Program of British Columbia) was devised to help you evaluate yourself.

Work Addiction Self-Test

Please rate each statement according to the following scale:  1 = never true; 2 = sometimes true; 3 = often true; 4 = always true. Total up your score, then look at the scale below.

1. I prefer to do things myself rather than ask for help

2. I get very impatient when I have to wait for other people, or am in slow moving queues

3. I seem to be in a hurry and racing against the clock

4. I get irritated when I am interrupted while I am in the middle of something

5. I stay busy and keep many 'irons in the fire'

6. I find myself doing two or three things at once, such as eating and writing a memo

7. I over commit myself by biting off more than I can chew

8. I feel guilty when I am not working on something

9. It is important that I see the concrete results of what I do

10. I am more interested in the final results of my work than in the process

11. Things just never seem to move fast enough or get done fast enough for me

12. I lose my temper when things don't go my way or work out to suit me

13. I ask the same question, without realizing it after I have already been given the answer

14. I spend a lot of time planning and thinking about future events, forgetting the here and now

15. I find myself continuing to work after my co-workers have finished

16. I get angry when people do not meet my standards of perfection

17. I get upset when I am in situations where I can not be in control

18. I tend to put myself under pressure with self imposed deadlines

19. It is hard for me to relax when I am not working

20. I spend more time working than on socializing, hobbies or leisure activities

21. I dive into projects to get a head start before all the phases have been finalized

22. I get upset with myself for making even the smallest mistake

23. I put more thought, time and energy into my work than relationships with other people

24. I forget, ignore, minimize family celebrations such as birthdays or holidays for example

25. I make important decisions before I have all the facts and have thought them through

Well how did you do? If you scored:

25 - 49 = You are not overdoing it
50 - 69 = You are mildly overdoing it
70 - 100 = You are highly overdoing it

A work addiction pattern, like any other addiction, is a difficult cycle to break.  However, with help, the unhealthy thoughts and behaviors can give rise to new and healthier ones. The first, and often the most difficult step, is acknowledging that that you have a problem and want to change.

Treatment of Work Addiction

As with all addictions, for the work addict the first and often the most difficult step is admitting that a problem exists and that change is necessary.  Then you can start to work on the problem yourself and you may want to search out a self-help program such as Workaholics Anonymous

You can try to establish a clear boundary between your work life and your private life: each day, each weekend, and for designated vacation periods. If you feel guilty or vaguely uncomfortable with taking time off or relaxing, consider reframing the time, even the play, as a necessary component of your work. In order to be maximally effective when you are at work, making time for a private life and for play is crucial.  You may even find it useful to set aside a brief time at the end of each day to allow closure of work activity, to have an official transition time that puts a period at the end of the sentence of each day so that time off is really time off. 

Reassess the amount of time you spend talking about your work with family and friends, and the amount of time you spend associating only with friends from work or people in the same line of work. Obviously people who care about each other are interested in all the things that are important to the other, including work. But, being caught up in war stories may represent an inability to establish boundaries for work or an over inclusive identity with one’s work.

If you have not been successful at modifying your behavior and putting more balance back into your life, counseling and therapy may be necessary. 

With my clients I have found that the types of treatment that are helpful are very similar to those I use in the treatment of other addictions.  These include traditional psychotherapy, reality therapy, behavior therapy, and cognitive therapy that focuses on identifying unhealthy, irrational and negative beliefs and having you replace them with healthy, positive ones.

Additional Information

For more information about a work addiction and other addictive behaviors, please click on the linked websites listed below.

 Workaholics Anonymous
 Recoveries Anonymous: a Twelve Step program

Would You Like Personal Assistance?

If you really want help dealing with your feelings and emotions, changing your behavior, and improving your life and the approach and office hours of typical therapists and counselors do not fit your life style or personal needs, I may have a solution.

By using very flexible office appointments, telephone consultations, email, teleconferences, and the willingness to travel and meet with you personally in your home, office, or other location,  I can be available to help you anytime and anywhere.

Feel free to contact me now for your free initial consultation. Once you become an existing client, you will be given a  pager  number where you can reach me whenever you need.

  Contact Dr. Berger
Help is Available
  Who I Can Help
  How I Can Help
  What You Can Do
  About Dr Berger
What Is a
  Clinical Psychologist
  Educational Psych...
  Forensic Psychologist
  School Psychologist
  Social Worker
  Life Coach
  Personal Coach
  Executive Coach
  Mental Health Prof...
  Pastoral Counselor
Types of Treatment
  Behavioral Therapy
  Cognitive Behavioral
  Gestalt Therapy
  Rational Emotive
  Reality Therapy
  Family Therapy
  Group Therapy
  Intelligence (IQ)
  Rorschach (inkblot)
 Famous Psychologists
  Allport, Gordon
  Beck, Aaron
  Binet, Alfred
  Chomsky, Noam
  Ellis, Albert
  Erikson, Erik
  Erickson, Milton
  Freud, Sigmund
  Fromm, Erich
  Glasser, William
  Harlow, Harry
  Jung, Carl
  Kinsey, Alfred
  Laing, R.D.
  Leary, Timothy
  Lewin, Kurt
  Perls, Fritz
  Maslow, Abraham
  May, Rollo
  Piaget, Jean
  Pavlov, Ivan
  Rogers, Carl
  Satir, Virginia
  Skinner, B. F.
  Wolpe, Joseph
  Psych Associations
Anywhere Anytime
                                    Copyright 2005 Dr Vincent Berger                                     


Psychologists and Psychologist
Psychologists Psychologist
 Psychologists Allentown Pennsylvania Psychologists Hermitage Pennsylvania Psychologists Penn Hills Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Altoona Pennsylvania Psychologists Highspire Pennsylvania Psychologists Philadelphia Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Baldwin Pennsylvania Psychologists Johnstown Pennsylvania Psychologists Phoenixville Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Bethel Park Pennsylvania Psychologists King of Prussia Pennsylvania Psychologists Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Bethlehem Pennsylvania Psychologists Lancaster Pennsylvania Psychologists Plum Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Black Mountain Pennsylvania Psychologists Lansdale Pennsylvania Psychologists Pottstown Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Camp Hill Pennsylvania Psychologists Lebanon Pennsylvania  Psychologists Progress Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Carlisle Pennsylvania Psychologists Lemoyne Pennsylvania Psychologists Radnor Township Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Chambersburg Pennsylvania Psychologists Levittown Pennsylvania Psychologists Reading Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Chester Pennsylvania Psychologists Marysville Pennsylvania Psychologists Ross Township Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Colonial Park Pennsylvania  Psychologists McCandless Pennsylvania Psychologists Rutherford Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Drexel Hill Pennsylvania Psychologists McKeesport Pennsylvania Psychologists Scott Township Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Easton Pennsylvania Psychologists Monroeville Pennsylvania Psychologists Scranton Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Enola Pennsylvania Psychologists Mount Lebanon Pennsylvania Psychologists Shaler Township Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Erie Pennsylvania Psychologists Mountain Top Pennsylvania Psychologists Sharon Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Greensburg Pennsylvania Psychologists Murrysville Pennsylvania Psychologists Springfield Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Hampton Pennsylvania Psychologists New Castle Pennsylvania Psychologists State College Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Hanover Pennsylvania Psychologists Norristown Pennsylvania Psychologists Steelton Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Hazleton Pennsylvania Psychologists Penbrook Pennsylvania Psychologists Upper St Clair Pennsylvania
 Psychologists West Chester Pennsylvania Psychologists Wilkinsburg Pennsylvania Psychologists Willow Grove Pennsylvania
 Psychologists West Mifflin Pennsylvania Psychologists Williamsport Pennsylvania Psychologists York Pennsylvania
 Psychologists Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania  
Psychologists PA
Psychologists Pennsylvania