For most Australians, gambling is an occasional and enjoyable recreational activity; however, for a small proportion of the community, gambling is associated with harm. Many people have heard that counselling can be helpful, but for some people, the thought of attending counselling is daunting.  So what happens in counselling and how can it help people experiencing problems with gambling? 

Counselling offers people an opportunity to consider what is happening in their life and what they would like to be happening.  Gambling Help counsellors talk with their clients to look at what is currently happening for them and consider changes they may wish to make.

A first session with a Gambling Help counsellor can occur either face to face or on the phone.  The counsellor will often invite a new client to explain what prompted them to seek help and what they are hoping will happen to improve the difficulties they are currently experiencing. 

Client and counsellor work together with the issues the client brings.  Counsellors don’t tell clients to stop gambling, or what to do.  The counsellor may guide a client, by asking some assessment questions to develop an understanding of how gambling is affecting the client’s emotional, social, relational, vocational and financial life. The counsellor may support the client to begin problem solving.  During sessions, client and counsellor may generate strategies which clients try out between sessions; and later, the client and counsellor review the new strategies. 

The issues and concerns which each person brings to counselling are unique, so what each person addresses in counselling will vary.  During counselling it is common for client and counsellor to work together to increase awareness of triggers for gambling and to consider ways to avoid these triggers or respond differently to triggers; To understand client motivations for gambling, and factors that support continuing and escalating gambling; To understand and address underlying issues linked to problem gambling; To explore the impact of their gambling on relationships with friends, family, work and other leisure pursuits and plan to make changes where there are concerns; And to manage and re-organise financial affairs.

Participation in counselling is voluntary, so counsellors and clients will have ongoing conversations about goals.  As clients gain skills and insight into managing gambling, participation in counselling generally becomes less frequent.  In the later stages of counselling, client and counsellor anticipate and plan for future risks, then when client and counsellor are ready, clients exit counselling.

 

-- Julie, Gambling Help Counsellor @ Relationships Australia Qld

** If you are affected by gambling – whether it be your own gambling or the gambling of a loved one, please call our Gambling Help Service.

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