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.