Diocese of Adelaide–Beating Gambling at its Own Game

Christine Bell, Manager of Salisbury Services, says gambling counselling is a highly specialised field. “Gambling counselling is a relatively young industry, only 15 years old,” she said. “Drug and alcohol counselling is well established over many decades, with many therapeutic inter-ventions being well tested and researched.” Christine says many people in the community don’t see gam-bling as a social problem, as it has often been seen as part of our recreational history. For a large percentage of people in our com-munity this can be so, however others see the opportunity to win ”˜large’ amounts of money which they believe can enhance their lives in many ways. “Gambling can become a problem for people, and this is usually seen around the time when it stops being fun,” Christine said.

“Many gamblers find it hard to control the time and money spent on gambling. “Part of the counselling is to find out what the client is look-ing for when they go into the gambling venue. Some go in with the expectation of losing a certain amount – problem gamblers go in expecting to win.” Once the motivation to gamble has been established the process of addressing the issues under-pinning the gambling activities and finding alternative activities begins. The problem is not just expecting to win on that occasion but also the need to win back or “chasing” prior losses.

Problem gamblers are often chasing losses to get their money back and when this does not happen they can feel desperate and guilty about it. Christine says only a small per-centage of people experiencing problems seek professional help. Many clients have to ”˜hit rock bottom’ or come close to it before they will seek help. The main reasons why gam-blers do not seek professional help are the social stigma as-sociated with having a problem, denial of a problem and people believing they can handle the problem themselves.

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