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Psychological treatments for gambling disorder

Authors Rash C, Petry N

Received 29 May 2014

Accepted for publication 24 June 2014

Published 7 October 2014 Volume 2014:7 Pages 285—295

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S40883

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5


Carla J Rash, Nancy M Petry

Department of Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT, USA


Abstract: This review discusses the research evidence for psychological treatment of gambling disorder. Several treatment options for gamblers have been explored, ranging from self-help and peer support, to brief and motivational interventions, to more intensive therapy approaches. Involvement in peer support programs seems to be optimal when combined with professional treatment; however, engagement and retention in peer support is limited. Self-directed interventions appear to benefit some gamblers; however, the involvement of therapist support, either in person or by telephone, may bolster these effects and such support need not be extensive. These self-directed options reduce the barriers associated with treatment-seeking, and may reach a wider range of gamblers than professionally delivered treatments alone. Brief and motivational approaches similarly may extend treatment options to more gamblers, namely at-risk and problem gamblers and those not seeking treatment. Of more extensive therapies, no consistent benefit of one approach emerges, although cognitive–behavioral interventions have been most often applied. Overall, several treatments have been developed for gambling disorder and results are promising, but variability in findings suggests a need for further systematic evaluation.

Keywords: gambling treatment, cognitive behavioral treatment, brief interventions, pathological gambling, problem gambling, behavioral addictions

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