Recent figures from the Queensland Household Survey of Gambling reported that 230,000 Queenslanders have experienced negative consequences as a result of their gambling.
To help reduce this alarming statistic, psychologists from The University of Queensland’s School of Psychology have developed a self-help program designed to help gamblers monitor their thinking in relation to gambling.Project leader, Professor Tian Oei said Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) was an approach that had been shown to work well in the treatment of addictive behaviours and other mental health problems.He said CBT was used in the program to educate users about the nature of gambling, and the triggers and factors that maintained problem gambling. The program includes strategies for challenging common thinking errors associated with gambling, as well as practical strategies for managing mood, budgeting, and relationship problems.The research team is currently looking for 250 volunteers to participate in a free seven-session trial of the program. Previous trials using face-to-face treatment were found to be very successful. The current trial is designed to evaluate the same program delivered in a self help format using a manual sent by mail to anywhere in Queensland.Professor Oei said the program was easy to follow with lots of encouraging comments, and had been approved by a group of consumers with gambling problems as well as a group of experts who regularly treated problem gamblers.”With recent reports indicating that Australians spend on average at least twice as much as people in North America and Europe on gambling, we are recognised as among the heaviest gamblers in the world … there has never been a more important time to conduct the trial,” he said.”We have researched a lot of information and found CBT offers an effective approach for overcoming gambling problems.”The manual brings together key ideas from all of this literature to create a program based on therapy that works.”The research team believes the program will be favoured by people who are reluctant to see a therapist face-to-face, or who live outside of major metropolitan areas and find it more difficult to access specialist treatment services.Participation in the program is free and those involved can withdraw at any time. Volunteers will be asked to complete a confidential questionnaire at the beginning and end of the program, and again at six and 12 months after its completion. The project is funded by a Responsible Gambling research grant from the Department of Treasury.If you are interested in participating in the CBT treatment program please visit the Self Help Treatment for Problem Gamblers project website for more information: http://exp.psy.uq.edu.au/selfhelp.(Source: University of Queensland : September 2007)