Inside the counselling room

Despite Hollywood portrayals, counselling is not lying on a long leather couch talking about your motherDespite Hollywood portrayals, counselling is not lying on a long leather couch talking about your mother..

Did you know that only one in ten people who experience problems with gambling are in treatment at any given time? That’s a very low percentage, especially given the many negative consequences of problem gambling. It got me thinking about what’s stopping people from seeking help.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room first – stigma. There is stigma attached to problem gambling. If someone has a gambling problem, they generally don’t want other people to find out, for fear of being judged, looked down upon, labelled etc.

Another big issue is confidentiality, which is closely related to stigma. People don’t want other people to find out they are in gambling counselling because of the stigma associated.

Another common barrier is most people don’t know much about what happens inside a counselling room. There is a natural fear of the unknown. Expectations are usually based on what’s shown on TV and in movies.

Lastly because many people don’t know much about counselling, they naturally wonder “Will it work for me?”.

There’s not much any one individual can do about social stigma. However let me assure you gambling counsellors’ primary goal is to help the client and they do so in a non-judgemental way. Counsellors also take client confidentiality very seriously. Some would say it is a sacred duty. Counsellors would not disclose client information to anyone unless the client has given approval or the law requires disclosure.

Despite Hollywood portrayals of counselling being lying on a long leather couch talking about your mother, what you’ll usually find in a counselling room is two adults having a normal conversation about a serious topic. The client is having some sort of life problem and the counsellor would use their training and experience to help the client solve that problem. Think of it as talking to a close friend about your problems, a friend who has the professional skills to help.

Lastly, it’s quite legitimate to ask whether counselling will work for you. Well you’ll never know if you never try. Try a few different counsellors and find one you are comfortable talking to. Try different counselling methods – phone, online, in person. Do some research on the different services out there. Don’t be afraid to ask your counsellor questions – what is your success rate, what is your treatment approach, how much experience do you have, can you accommodate my unique personal circumstances? At the end of the day what matters most is getting your life on track, and having the right counsellor in your corner helps a lot.

For free and confidential support and treatment, call Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 or visit To ‘meet the counsellor’ in your area, visit the Gambling Hangover YouTube channel.

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