Gambling Addiction Counselling Services in Calgary
The short story
Support is also available for family members and loved ones who are currently being impacted by another person’s unhealthy relationship with gambling. Treatment can be short-term (3-6 months) or long-term (6+ months) depending on needs and preference. Typically, long-term support is recommended as Addiction involving gambling is a chronic condition and impacts many other aspects of health. However, if this is not possible then we will work to provide you with coping strategies and points of reflection that you can carry forward. The initial session or two involves background information gathering to get to know you, your challenges, and strengths. Recommendations and strategies will be provided along the way and collaboratively we will discuss treatment goals and general plan. Cost is $200/session and these appointments can be accessed in person or by phone or video. All it takes to get started is an e-mail, phone call, or text to request an appointment.
The long story
How do you know if you or a loved one has a problem?
Some red flags of problematic gambling include:
Addiction is Not a Choice
It is important for you to remember that you did not choose what is happening to you right now. A struggle with gambling does not define your personality or represent who you are, it is a symptom and a medical condition that it is important to seek treatment for. That is where gambling counselling can help.
The initial 1-2 sessions will involve gathering as much background information as possible about you, including: Strengths, available coping network and tools, challenges, as well as information about your relationship with gambling.
Information is gathered to know about all parts of you, not just your relationship with gambling. Gambling counselling is about much more than your engagement with the behaviour, as gambling typically starts to increase for a variety of reasons and there will be many areas of life that you can start to address to support a reduction in gambling, such as relationships, feelings processing, physical health, sleep hygiene, financial planning, and more.
Paige Abbott has been trained in Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy as well as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and also incorporates elements of solution-focused therapy, motivational interviewing, and Twelve Step Facilitation into her sessions. Follow-up appointments generally involve a check-in to see presenting issues and immediate things that have come up that you may want to process, follow-up on any suggestions provided in past appointments to get an idea of progress as well as roadblocks that are coming up, followed by more in-depth exploration of challenges, patterns, and coping. Sessions are active and engaged as Paige likes to ask lots of questions and provide reflections, challenges, and psychoeducation along the way. At any point if the therapeutic approach or goals need to be changed, please speak up and this will be processed. Sessions come from a non-judgmental, compassionate, empathetic place. We are here to support you in doing different and being different.
Sessions are offered in person in Calgary, Alberta or by using Technology Assisted Counselling which can consist of phone or video sessions depending on need and preference. Cost is $200/session. Sessions are available to anyone who is in the province of Alberta at the time of appointment as this is Paige Abbott’s jurisdiction of licensure. Payment options include cash, credit card, e-transfer, and direct billing with a number of different insurance carriers.
Gambling counselling can be short or long-term, depending on your needs. Paige Abbott, Registered Psychologist at Sana Psychological, prefers to meet with people over a longer period of time (6+ months) to ensure sustainability and maintenance of progress as Addiction involving gambling tends to ebb and flow. If this does not work for your needs, that is okay too. We will do as much work as we can in the available sessions to get you building a healthy recovery plan that you can tailor as needed. All it takes to get started is an e-mail, phone call, or text to request an appointment.
For loved ones
A Face of Addiction Involving Gambling: Julie’s Story
Julie felt that she had a pretty unremarkable background. She grew up in a stable, loving, wonderful home with a great family. She moved on to her adulthood and created the same thing in her own life.
Julie felt she should be happy with her life, but she wasn’t. For some reason, she felt consistently discontent and bored. One day, some of her workmates went out for drinks after work to a local pub and Julie tagged along, which she often did. This was a different pub that had VLT’s in it. Julie had gambled once or twice when she was in Las Vegas in the past, bought a few lottery tickets, but had never felt much draw to it. She decided to put some money in one of the machines and felt an exhilaration that she had not felt for a long time, maybe ever. Julie felt like this was possibly the fun and excitement she was looking for in her life.
Over the next few years, Julie’s gambling use increased in frequency. She started to find excuses to go out on her own as her family were becoming suspicious and concerned. Her partner kept asking her about missing money from their account and she found different ways to lie and cover it up. Julie found gambling increasingly numbing and almost boring to her, yet she did not feel it was possible to stop. Eventually, Julie disclosed what was happening to her partner and he encouraged her to get some professional support. Julie initially did not feel ready for this, kept gambling, but six months later as her financial, emotional, and relational world became more unmanageable, she agreed.
The Recovery Journey
For most, the journey of recovery with Addiction involving gambling involves an initial detoxification or pursuit of abstinence period.
This is incredibly important to allow the brain to start to recalibrate and for the pleasure threshold to return to baseline (or as close to it as it can) which allows feelings of pleasure for everyday life and activities to return. Gambling provides one of the most potent sources of feel-good neurotransmitters to the brain that we can get due to its intermittent reinforcement pattern. Therefore, cutting off the source of this feel-good neurotransmitter spike is essential for healthy brain functioning.
During and after this period of detoxification, recovery action will be occurring. This can mean an exploration of underlying patterns and vulnerabilities, getting to understand triggers, identify other areas where compulsive or addictive behaviour may be active, as well as starting to explore and spend time developing relationship with self. Relationships will continue during this time but may look different as you start to detach from environments and people who bring with them a higher risk of exposure to gambling and triggers. The first 3-6 months of recovery will be a period of tremendous growth and feeling; it is often uncomfortable and is a vulnerable time where the likelihood of relapse is high. Withdrawal and change are uncomfortable, but they come with great benefit. After six months, changes are more established and have become routine so things feel less effortful. The lifelong work involves continued awareness of triggers, vulnerabilities, boundaries, and ongoing development of relationship with self.
Wherever you are at in this journey, it is an honour and a privilege for Sana Psychological to be a part of it.