Dr Jamie Barsky, AnonyMind Clinical Lead, has had many clients ask how psychological therapy can help them in problem gambling treatment. It can seem pretty unbelievable that 'talking to someone could be a part of the recovery process from an emotional problem or addiction.
In his last blog, Jamie wrote about what you might expect from your first therapy session. Here, he shares more about the therapy process and how it might help as part of problem gambling treatment.
Firstly, let me say that it is unlikely that any course of psychological therapy will be the same. Good therapy will always be unique because your situation is unique. Even if you have similar types of gambling problems to someone else, you are a different person. So, you have a different situation, and there are probably big differences in the things that keep your gambling going.
That's why, at AnonyMind, we never have a one-size-fits-all approach to therapy support. We have specialists in Clinical Psychology, Counselling Psychology and accredited Psychotherapy. These people extensively trained to understand your unique circumstances and use this understanding to help with your journey out of problem gambling.
Typically, we spend the first one or two sessions trying to understand how the problems have developed. This step is critical because we can't fix something if we don't know why it's broken. Take a look at my first blog to learn more about the first few sessions of therapy.
No two therapy courses are the same. With that in mind, here is my insight into six of the key ingredients of good therapy:
Acquiring new information and knowledge can be empowering. As such, learning how our brain works can help explain why we get caught in unhelpful behaviour patterns. This knowledge can allow us to override some of the mind traps that keep us locked into addiction.
Having someone to talk to each week can help us focus on our goals and stay motivated to change.
Taking time to think and talk about our thoughts, feelings and behaviours can help us understand things differently. This step can lead to opportunities for behaviour change.
4. Expressing Emotion
Many people think that by ignoring painful or unpleasant feelings, they can avoid or reduce them.
Believe it or not, there is loads of evidence to show that bringing attention and understanding to our emotions and putting our feelings into words can help reduce their intensity and help create new emotional experiences.
5. Learning Skills
Therapy can be a place where you learn new skills. Skills for managing emotions, communicating to others, and problem-solving can all be important in recovering from gambling addiction.
6. Seeing Beyond the Behaviour
Good therapy should look beyond gambling behaviour to understand what might be driving it. Many people with gambling problems describe how their gambling is a symptom of other issues. Psychologists call this the function of behaviour; what function - or purpose - does gambling serve? This question is one that most clinicians will ask you to consider, and they'll support you to think about it.
I hope this blog has been informative. Remember, as everyone is different, so are all courses of therapy. You may find that not all six elements I've shared above will feature in your sessions, but some will and many might.
Do you feel ready to take the next step in your recovery? Register to book a free online appointment with one of our expert clinicians; anonymind.com/register
Good luck with your journey!
Dr Jamie Barsky
Dr Jamie Barsky is a Clinical Psychologist and Lead Clinician for AnonyMind