Counseling Problem Gamblers - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780121746537, 9780080490823

Counseling Problem Gamblers

1st Edition

A Self-Regulation Manual for Individual and Family Therapy

Authors: Joseph Ciarrocchi
eBook ISBN: 9780080490823
Paperback ISBN: 9780121746537
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 5th September 2001
Page Count: 340
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments. List of Worksheets. The Twenty Percent Difference. The Scope of Social and Problem Gambling. Research on Causes and Treatment of Pathological Gambling. A Self-Regulation Model for Understanding Pathological Gambling. Diagnosis and Assessment of Pathological Gambling. Overview of Clinical Interventions: A Plea for Family Involvement. Motivational Enhancement, Stages of Change, and Goal-Setting. Abstinence Control and Relapse Preventions. Managing Urges Through Acceptance. Depression, Anxiety, and Guilt: Cognitive Strategies. Changing Beliefs About Gambling: The Downside of Hope. Problem-Solving and Overcoming Procrastination. Financial and Legal Issues. Couples and Family Treatment. Spirituality, Virtue, and Character: A Model for Therapist Collaboration in Long-Term Growth. References. Appendix A: National Council on Problem Gambling Affiliate List. Appendix B: Worksheets. Index.


Over the past decade, legal wagering has expanded rapidly in North America. In 1998 alone, people lost 50 billion dollars in legal betting and it is estimated that illegal wagering is twice that amount. A recent government report, based on the broadest population survey, concludes that the lifetime and pathological gamblers in the U.S. range between 4 and 10 million persons and is growing. If we include the families affected by problem gambling then the potential impact is indeed prodigious. Virtually no community in the U.S. and Canada is left untouched by entertainment or problem gambling. Treating problem gambling has evolved from a small group of practitioners in the 1980's working in specialty impatient units into an international enterprise that affects the caseload of many mental health professionals. Owing to its quiet origins, problem gambling treatment strategies are not well known throughout the clinical community. Consequently the average clinician is him/herself "learning as they go." This approach does not benefit either client or therapist. As the book's first chapter makes clear, problem gambling differs significantly from substance abuse, its nearest clinical relative. Not attending to these differences leads to poor results and clinical failure. This book is the one essential tool needed by clinicians treating or likely to treat problem gambling. Written by a clinician with wide experience, it is intended for the general clinician treating or likely to treat problem gambling desiring a comprehensive, yet user-friendly guide.

Key Features

  • Assessment and treatment of problem gambling and those affected by it is discussed
  • Includes diagnostic instruments developed by the author
  • An integrative approach is taken with a special focus on cultural concerns and clinical applications for women and minorities
  • Integration of spirituality in treatment is covered


In addition to clinical and counseling psychologists in private independent practice, therapists in publicly funded agencies represent a large audience relevant to treating problem gambling.


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© Academic Press 2002
Academic Press
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"Dr. Ciarrocchi has prepared an excellent comprehensive manual for practical use by both the counselor new to gambling treatment and the experienced gambling counselors. The manual provides practical applied science built on a solid, easy to understand foundation of current psychological theory and recent research.

As the public awareness of problem gambling increases and more and more people facing this disorder seek competent mental health services, the need for solid "how to" information for the average counselor is becoming more and more critical. The manual contains an excellent collection of self-help strategies, counselor interventions and psychological theory in practice. This is "one stop shopping" for the counselor seeking to understand, assess and treat the problem gambler and family any counselor may find among their caseloads.

Dr. Ciarrocchi explains and illustrates the use of several of the most popular and effective treatment approaches and strategies in use with problem gamblers today and he adds a few innovative interventions and interpretations of this own. Cognitive-behavioral interventions, motivational interviewing, stages of change are but a few of the theories neatly interwoven into a comprehensive guide to gambling treatment. Everything needed for the problem gambling client's "recovery 101" effort is included here, ready to pick up and begin an effective recovery journey.

Dr. Ciarrocchi is one of two or three experts on gambling treatment that addresses problem gambling treatment and spirituality in a meaningful way for use by any counselor. The collaborative tone and step-by-step sections allow for the effective and productive therapeutic exploration of this most important area by any counselor. This section removes imaginary barriers many mental health and addiction counselors put between themselves and their clients on the issue of spirituality believing they are not ministers or trained pastoral counselors and therefore cannot competently address these issues. The manual makes it clear and easy to incorporate the fundamentals of spirituality and recovery I the basic treatment plan for any client.

If I had this manual twenty-one years ago I would have saved several hundred gamblers and their families from needing to be my teachers as my learning curve inched up and up. Today's counselors are so much more likely to come across problem gamblers and family members looking for help, that rather than go through a long learning curve of slowly gaining experience, READ THIS MANUAL, and use it in the day to day management and direction of your gambling treatment efforts.

I am sure, with this manual, counselors will find it easier to assess and treat the problem gambler and family, they will then become more willing to evaluate for this disorder (as common as drug addiction) and upon finding it, begin effective treatment right away. The guesswork of "what to do" is gone, the plan is all laid out, just pick up the book and follow the step-by-step guide to recovery and successful treatment. With this book everybody wins, the gambler, their family, the counselor, employer and insurance companies. The essentials of gambling treatment are all together in one easy to understand and use manual. Theory is discussed as it relates to selected interventions so the counselor not only is told what to try- but why.

The theories discussed are solid, based in reviewed science and research and have been proven effective in many clinical settings. The moves to apply these well-described interventions with gamblers is the result of years of experience by the author and his colleagues. This adds up to trust. A counselor new to gambling treatment, or with many years of experience, can truly trust the material in this manual.

I can only imagine how many problem gamblers and families will be better helped now that concerned counselors have a solid tool with which to work. This manual is truly a gift to counselors and their gambling clients and families." --Joanna Franklin MS NCGC, Executive Director, Maryland Council on Problem Gambling

"Dr. Ciarrocchi offers an integrated, comprehensive, and practical volume on the treatment of problem gambling. It spans etiology, diagnosis, assessment, and treatment, with specific attention to couples, family, spiritual, and forensic aspects." --William R. Miller, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, Co-Director, Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Addictions (CASAA), The University of New Mexico

Ratings and Reviews

About the Authors

Joseph Ciarrocchi Author

Joseph W. Ciarrocchi completed his doctorate in clinical psychology at Catholic University of America. For eight years he was Director of a comprehensive inpatient and outpatient treatment program for problem gambling and substance abuse at Taylor Manor Hospital in Maryland. In that capacity he coordinated a team of clinicians that included as its psychiatrist, Robert Custer, M.D., the individual most responsible for the inclusion of problem gambling in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. Throughout this experience Dr. Ciarrocchi conducted some of the earliest empirical research with pathological gamblers as well as with their spouses. Since that time his accomplishments in the field are recognized by his certification as a Gambling Counselor Supervisor by the National Council on Problem Gambling and by his presentations at national and international conferences. He has conducted training workshops on problem gambling treatment in Iowa, Missouri, Delaware, Wisconsin, Illinois, Louisiana, and Maryland in the U.S., and in New Zealand, Taiwan, and Hong Kong internationally. His broad-based knowledge of the addictions field is acknowledged by his certification of proficiency in the treatment of alcohol and other psychoactive substance use disorders by the American Psychological Association’s College of Professional Psychology. Dr. Ciarrocchi has written four books in the area of mental health treatment including his popular treatment manual for obsessive compulsive disorder, The Doubting Disease: Help for Scrupulosity and Religious Compulsions (Paulist Press). He currently is membership chair and newsletter editor for the special interest group, Spiritual Issues in Behavior Change, in the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy. His empirical studies, in addition to pathological gambling, include research on personality characteristics of substance abusers and the relationship of spiritual variables to psyc

Affiliations and Expertise

Loyola College, Columbia, Maryland, U.S.A.