Presentation by: Alison Penfold
Conference: International Conference on Gambling
Date: 13-15 September 2006
Title: Is counselling enough? Development of the specialist problem gambling treatment workforce
Services and practitioners specialising in the treatment of problem gamblers and their whanau comprise a small but core part of the problem gambling treatment workforce identified by the Ministry of Health’s strategic plan to reduce gambling harm. Abacus is contracted to develop this workforce with the aim of ensuring best practice is delivered to those in need. However, determining what is ‘best practice’ is reliant upon evidence of effectiveness and development and acceptance of an underlying model of “treatment” in the wider sense. There are a number of approaches or models to address problem gambling used throughout the world, but no accepted standard model. The approach adopted to determine a NZ model is drawn from first principles, with contributions from clients, practitioners, organisations, overseas models, and from allied treatment provider approaches. A model is emerging that encompasses a multi-skilled workforce that not only provides counselling support, but a range of other interventions that can assist those experiencing gambling harm and the typically many interwoven co-existing issues. Provision of a range of help, initially in-house, may best enable clients to cope within their community.

The findings to date, including surveys of consumers, practitioners and treatment organisations are presented, together with the next stages of the process. Recent feedback is presented from the workforce about their willingness, confidence and ability to provide a comprehensive package of interventions for those affected by gambling. Future steps include provision of resources to upskill where required, and development of outcome measures for effectiveness of this wider provision model.