What makes The Gambling Clinic unique?
The Gambling Clinic was founded in 1999 to help those with problems due to their gambling.
What makes us unique is not just our history but our approach to gambling problems. We focus on changing a person’s gambling and letting the person struggling with gambling make the choice on what changes best suit their life. We have helped well over a thousand people get control over their gambling.
One other point that sets us apart is that we are researchers dedicated explicitly to gambling addiction. Our leadership team includes three researchers who are international experts on the treatment of gambling problems and harms. We have published a book on helping those with gambling problems and have published dozens of research articles over the last 20 years.
Is it like AA/other addiction programs?
Our program is different from 12-step programs such as Gamblers Anonymous (GA) or Alcoholics Anonymous. We are not opposed to such programs, and some of our clients find it helpful to attend GA meetings while participating in our program. The big differences in how The Gambling Clinic approaches problems center on two things:
- First, we view people as capable and self-determined. We believe that people can learn or modify their skills to make changes in their lives.
- Second, our research drives our treatment practice. Our involvement in researching gambling problems for over 20 years has allowed us to fine tune our program to best support the individuals who want to make changes in their lives.
How effective is your program?
Our research has clearly shown that CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, specifically designed to address gambling problems, is the most effective form of treatment. Through that research, we have learned that 87% of those people who complete what we call a therapeutic dose, or a minimum of 8 to 10 sessions, will realize significant reductions in gambling harms and gambling behavior (including money spent).
There are a couple of other important issues related to effectiveness. First, a person has to go to treatment and engage in working with the treatment support team. Second, they must commit themselves to completing at least eight meetings to develop the skills they need fully. Finally, making a long-term change is vital, and we know that people who work on their recovery skills for one year are highly likely to stay committed to those changes.
What happens in the sessions?
We do what’s called CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, specifically developed for people who have experienced harms related to their gambling. We carefully consider your gambling history, thoughts, and beliefs about what has been happening, and feelings about gambling. We will ask you to consider why you like to gamble, what type of gambling you do, and other aspects of your gambling experience. While we look at that, we also want to set some goals to see what you want from our program. These goals could include abstaining from gambling or just limiting the amount of time or money spent gambling. With these factors in mind, we will help you develop new skills and modify some skills you might already have to make the changes you want to accomplish.
How often are these appointments?
Usually, we think about planning for once a week for one hour. This schedule seems best when trying to create momentum and sustain change. Weekly also gives you time between appointments to try new skills and strategies.
That said, everyone has different challenges in their week. If you need to skip a week here or there, that is fine. Just talk about it and plan for how best to keep making the changes that you want. Similarly, if you need to meet every other week or sometimes twice a week, we can do that. Our goal is to work with you on your goals within your availability.
Who would I meet with during therapy?
Our program is one-on-one appointments with a therapist of our treatment team. You will meet the same person each week to focus on the changes you want to make in your gambling. We specifically train our team to use the research on how to change your gambling behavior to have the best chance of reducing gambling-related harms.
You will also be in contact with a Peer Recovery Specialist from our team to help you work on goals and keep on track with meetings and resources outside of therapy sessions. They will also be there for you if you ever need a contact to help get you resources as you recover from gambling problems.
Does The Gambling Clinic offer financial aid to help win back the lost money?
No, we do not offer financial aid for winning back money. However, our website is developing a portal to help people get control over their debt and finances.
Do you provide referrals if there are other problems once therapy ends?
Yes, we do. Many people who experience gambling problems have other struggles in their lives. The most common is how to build trusting relationships with people in their lives who have been harmed by gambling. Others have substance use struggles or concerns about trauma or loss. For such situations, we will work with you to find the resources you need.