Working with a client or patient
What to do if you suspect that a client of yours has a gambling problem?
Working with clients who have gambling problems can be very challenging. Whether you are a doctor, healthcare professional, adviser, youth worker, probation worker, social worker or mental health worker, you will probably see that your client’s gambling behaviour needs to be addressed as it is having a deep impact on all aspects of their lives. All clients should be given information about GamCare, our helpline and website and the services we provide and encouraged to contact us. You are also welcome to contact the helpline or netline at any time to get advice on helping your client and find out details of support services available in your area.
Typically clients will fall into one of four groups:
Compulsive gamblers who acknowledge they have a gambling problem and want to work on resolving it
If your client acknowledges there is a problem and feels ready to make a change you can talk to them about GamCare and encourage them to contact us. You might find it useful to read through the page Get Support- For yourself with them, to look at the available services and support them to work through the initial steps to getting help.
The first steps to seeking help can be daunting and require a ready state of mind, but they are also the simplest and easiest. Taking these steps for themselves will greatly improve the gambler’s self-esteem, commitment to recovery, and ultimately their success.
Specialist help agencies can assist clients to deal with practical issues that are within their remit, such as debt and money management, physical and psychological symptoms, legal issues, housing issues, isolation and social contact issues, family issues such as relationships and domestic abuse, issues affecting children and young people, issues affecting vulnerable people including safeguarding, BME and faith issues. For a list of other services available, please see our Links page.
Compulsive gamblers who acknowledge they have a gambling problem but don’t want to work on resolving it or feel they are being forced to resolve it
Sometimes a client may not want to deal with their compulsive gambling. This can be for many reasons including:
- They actually want to continue gambling in spite of the difficulties it has caused them
- They have tried to reduce or stop their gambling but this has not worked and so they think that they cannot be helped
- They are ashamed
- They are afraid of the consequences if people find out
What can you do?
If a person does not wish to address the problem, it can be difficult to get them to seek help. Sometimes a person with a gambling problem needs to reach a stage themselves where they are ready to accept help. It can help to let the person know that there is help available, should they choose to take it up. It might help to write them a letter for them to read at their leisure. This can help to avoid the confrontation aspect of trying to make someone change, and lets the person know that someone is there for them.
Compulsive gamblers who don’t acknowledge they have a gambling problem
Sometimes a client may not even acknowledge that they have a problem. This can be for many reasons including:
- They do not believe they have a problem
- They do not see themselves as fitting their stereotype of a problem gambler
- They believe they can stop at any time but are choosing not to
What can you do?
If someone refuses to see a problem with their gambling at all then it may be difficult to persuade them otherwise. One solution might be to try and get them thinking about their gambling in a different way - for example through taking our self assessment test. This might prompt reflection as to what the situation really is.
Partners/family/friends or others who are affected by compulsive gambling
Problem gambling does not only affect the individual involved. It can be particularly difficult for a partner of a problem gambler as it can lead to money problems and instability in the household, as well as emotional impacts and a breakdown of trust.
What can you do?
If their partner or loved one is a problem gambler, they may be experiencing many strong and possibly conflicting emotions. For example, they could be trying to cover up their gambling while trying to keep them from gambling more. They might also be angry, depressed about the debt they have run up and afraid that they won’t stop. Gambling, and the loss of trust it often brings, can put an enormous strain on a relationship.
You might find it useful to read through the page Get Support – For a friend or family member with them, to look at the available services and support them to work through the initial steps to getting help.
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If you are worried that you or someone you know is gambling too much you can talk to a HelpLine adviser from 8am-midnight, 7 days a week.Find out more
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