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Wednesday, January 09, 2013


Can you give some examples of "mindful-based" therapies, and how one would implement them if one has a gambling problem? I am a layperson, and I am interested in helping a gambler recover. Thank you.

Hi Mary,

Mindfulness-based therapies are part of the newer wave of psychology and have been around since the 1970s. However, mindfulness has been around for centuries, just packaged differently. These therapies draw heavily from long- and well-established Eastern meditation practices. Mindfulness as a concept refers to nonjudgmental awareness, acceptance, and “presentness” in the moment where your complete attention is given to the present moment.

Current therapies that include a mindfulness component include:

Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) for depression
Gestalt therapy
Adaptation Practice
Dialectical behavior therapy
Acceptance and commitment therapy
And more recently mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) in substance use disorders.

There has been some research to suggest that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) might be helpful with gambling-related problems. It helps promote acceptance of distressing thoughts and emotions.

The article from the WAGER talks about experiential avoidance, which is essentially the opposite of what mindfulness targets. Instead of ignoring unpleasant thoughts or impulses and trying to distract yourself (e.g., with gambling) mindfulness-based approaches suggest that you take the time, without judgment, to think through those thoughts and acknowledge that you have them. The “no judgment” component is arguably the most important when confronting potentially unpleasant thoughts and urges, and can be difficult at first.

I found you an article presenting a case study where they attempt to use MBCT for a problem gambler which is available online if you’re interested in reading about an example: http://ccs.sagepub.com/content/10/3/210.full.pdf+html
In this instance, her therapy included keeping a daily diary that chronicled “date, mindfulness practice, practice duration, and comments.”

Thank you for your interest in the WAGER and for your question!


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