Campus News

Conroy shines light on problem gambling treatment through innovative workshops

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UB faculty member Kathleen Conroy says many compulsive gamblers don’t know they have a gambling problem. And once they realize they have a problem, they don’t know where to go for help.

By GINA MARIE CIAPPINA

Published December 20, 2018

“The biggest goal for the training workshops is to provide awareness and education. Gambling is a silent addiction that is often misunderstood.”
Kathleen Conroy, clinical assistant professor
Department of Counseling School and Educational Psychology

Health professionals across the state have been learning how to treat compulsive gamblers and those affected by their addiction through innovative workshops offered through the Problem Gambling Training Partnership.

UB faculty member Kathleen Conroy is among the gambling experts conducting the training; Conroy represented one of the five professional associations that collaborated to develop the two-day training program that highlights the latest research and resources.

The multiyear, unprecedented, statewide initiative provides free and certified training on basic assessment and treatment of gambling disorders to licensed clinicians, such as social workers, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychoanalysts, and other professional counselors.

Administered through the New York Problem Gambling Training Partnership (NYPGTP), it also offers continuing education and training hours for licensed or certified professionals. The partnership is funded by the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS).

“Until people have a full awareness of what problem gambling is and how it develops and unfolds, it will be very difficult to help individuals be healthier because they don’t understand the problem themselves,” says Conroy, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Counseling School and Educational Psychology in the Graduate School of Education.

Problem gambling recovery requires easy access to professionally trained health professionals, Conroy says, adding that by providing clinicians training via an open and educational atmosphere, they can learn how to effectively approach a client’s gambling problem.

“We want to give clinicians a way to learn about the basics of gambling problems,” she says, “and how it affects the individual and their family.”

Conroy explains that many people don’t know they have a gambling problem. And once they realize they have a problem, they don’t know where to go for help.

“Awareness and understanding are so important,” she says. “This will guide those who need help and others in the right direction.  

“If someone with a gambling problem is trying to find their way to a healthier lifestyle, we want to make sure that their family is part of the solution so they don’t find themselves fueling the problem,” she says.

Those close to an individual addicted to gambling may not know the best way to support their loved one. The training workshops provide information to enable clinicians to help the client, as well as the client’s family, because support for both is important as they move forward.

Conroy notes that one of her goals for the workshops is to build a referral list of licensed or certified professionals across the state who are qualified to treat problem gambling. Completion of the two-day training workshop is the first step for professionals interested in being included on the New York State Problem Gambling Treatment Referral List.

More information on the workshops and referral source eligibility is available at the NYPGTP website. Locations and dates of future regional workshops will be scheduled in the new year.

Once they complete the workshop, clinicians can access continuing education newsletters and self-study webinars on NYPGTP’s website.

Conroy has been working in the gambling recovery field and educating others about the issue for almost two decades.

“I am very passionate about trying to get the help needed to be available to everyone,” she says. “The biggest goal for the training workshops is to provide awareness and education. Gambling is a silent addiction that is often misunderstood.”

Anyone affected by problem gambling can go to the New York Council on Problem Gambling website, or contact the NYS HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY (467369) for more information.