Person Centred Therapy

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“The Person-Centred Therapy approach has its limitations when it comes to treating a gambling addiction.” Discuss.

In this assignment I am going to discuss what constitutes addictive behaviour in the context of therapeutic work. An evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of Person-Centred Therapy (PCT) will be used to highlight the limitations of this mode of therapy when used for clients with a gambling addiction. Other models of therapy will also be explored in order to ascertain whether a single or combination of therapies would be more effective in dealing with said addiction. Ethical issues will also be discussed. Using PCT and other models, a treatment plan will be outlined describing how a therapist might work with a client presenting with a gambling addiction.

Gambling addiction is sometimes known as the “hidden illness” because there are no obvious physical signs or symptoms as there are in drug or alcohol addiction. Problem gamblers typically deny or minimise the problem. They will often go to great lengths to conceal their gambling. Some examples of behaviour are: lying about where they have been, withdrawing from their friends and families and seeking out others who share their addiction. Experts often distinguish gambling for action from gambling to escape. Action gamblers are highly competitive and easily bored, often preferring poker, horse racing and stock market speculation. Escape gamblers are more likely to play passive games of pure chance such a slot machines, bingo, scratch cards and lotteries.

Some clinicians have suggested that there is a biological predisposition involved. Twin studies indicate that heredity may account for up to 35% of individual differences in susceptibility to gambling problems. This study also suggested that “pathological gamblers “have abnormal activity in areas of the frontal lobes that are centres of judgement and decision-making. (1) However, it must be noted that gambling problems cannot be reduced to genetics or neurochemistry. Biological research is still scarce, and there are no indicators to show whether the focus group had other mental health disorders.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) state that whilst many of us play the lottery or place the odd bet on horse racing such as the Grand National only about 6 people in every 1000 will become addicted to gambling, (2) Global research by the RCP has shown that in general it is men who are more likely to become addicted as they tend to gamble more than women. Teenagers and young adults are also more vulnerable. Children as young as seven may find it difficult to control the amount of time spent on game stations and PC’s. Older people may too be at risk if they have a significant amount of time on their hands and no motivation or rational recreational outlet.

Within Western society there are plenty of opportunities for people to become addicted to gambling. Whilst here are some restrictions on the age a person can be to visit casinos, arcades and betting shops (16 to buy lottery tickets, 18 to enter betting shops etc), the access to online gambling can render these restrictions useless. It can also be argued that certain types of gambling are presented as worthy – for example raffle tickets are often sold to raise money for charities. The National Lottery too is seen as being there to assist charities and support groups through funding. Surveys published in 2000 and 2007 estimate that between 0.6% and 0.8% of the adult population in Great Britain are problem gamblers. The charity GamCare estimates the social and economic costs of problem gambling at £2 billion per annum. The NHS estimates that around 50% of gambling addicts are also addicted to alcohol, and depression and attempted suicide among gambling addicts is problematic. (3)

As part of my research for this assignment I checked day and evening programmes on terrestrial and satellite TV in order to see how prevalent links and references to...
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