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On the last track we discussed developing a controlled treatment plan. We discussed when to use controlled treatment and two steps to developing a controlled treatment plan. The two steps are establishing a peer group of counselors and making problem gamblers aware of peer counselors as a resource.
On this track we will discuss exposure to gambling. We’ll examine five methods of avoiding exposure to gambling. These will include self exclusion, being near a gambling establishment, being in a gambling establishment, being alone in a gambling establishment, and receiving an invitation to gamble. As you listen to this track, consider your client. What type of exposure to gambling does he or she struggle with? Could the methods of avoidance on this track benefit your client?
Five Methods of Avoiding Exposure to Gambling
Method #1 - Self Exclusion
One client I treated, Ben, age 42, was able to successfully ban himself from his favorite casino. However, Ben’s success was due to a self-exclusion program set up by the casino itself. In this program, Ben met with the casino security service and signed a self-exclusion form. Ben stated, “My photo was taken so they could identify me if I tried to come back. Ben found the self-exclusion program to be effective. He stated, “Out of fear of humiliation at being thrown out, I just gave up going to the casino.”
However, the horse track that Tom frequented had no such program. Think of your Tom. Would it benefit your client to perhaps meet with the manager of the establishment where he or she gambles to explain the problem and ask to be denied access to the location? Clearly, however, some may refuse to comply with this request. If self exclusion is difficult for your client, what other methods might be effective regarding controlling exposure to gambling?
Method #2 - Being Near a Gambling Establishment
For example, if your client insists on going to bars, you might suggest he or she avoid places where there are video lottery terminals. Other gamblers may plan vacations according to the proximity of casinos or take cruises that have casinos on board. Would your client be receptive to reconsidering changing vacation plan?
Method #3 - Being in a Gambling Establishment
I proposed two strategies to Tom. I stated, “If you can’t avoid the track altogether, remain as far as possible from where you place your bets. See your friends, but stay away from the bettors, if that is possible. If you stick around and see guys winning, you’ll just feel lucky and want to place a bet. Also, try to avoid talking to your friends about the races, odds, or anything related to betting. That will just make you want to bet even more.”
Think of your Tom. How might your client cope with being in a gambling establishment?
Method #4 - Being Alone in a Gambling Establishment
Tom stated, “I’m sure the problem is not so much in being at the track as it is being at the track alone. Even if I think about placing a bet, it doesn’t matter because I have friends there who occupy my time. But when I’m at the track alone, I just can’t help placing bets! The betting becomes my friend!” How might you have responded to Tom? Unfortunately, I felt limited regarding Tom’s options for going to the track alone.
I stated, “I can only suggest that you never go to the track alone. If you’re there with friends and they leave, you need to leave as well, even if you haven’t finished your drink or your nachos. Clearly, the urge to bet will surely tempt you as soon as you are alone.”
Method #5 - Receiving an Invitation to Gamble
During these role playing exercises, the gambler learns to say ‘no’ first using the therapist as a model and then playing their own role. Once gamblers have well-integrated ways of rejecting invitations and are able to express their refusal, the therapist can encourage them to apply these skills in their daily interactions with others. Also, you might consider discussing the client’s gambling problem with friends and family to tell them that the client is in the process of dealing with the problem.
The purpose of the discussion should be focused on informing friends and family that they should avoid inviting the gambler to bars or gambling establishments if they wish to assist the gambler in his or her process. Would you agree that if most of the client’s friends are linked to gambling activities it is justifiable to make changes to certain relationships or to question them?
On this track we discussed exposure to gambling. We examined five methods of avoiding exposure to gambling. These included self exclusion, being near a gambling establishment, being in a gambling establishment, being alone in a gambling establishment, and receiving an invitation to gamble.
On the next track we will discuss finances and relationships. Strategies for dealing with finances and relationships in the face of a gambling problem might include transferring management and the Relationship Developing Technique.”
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