Gambling involves risking something of value, such as money, on the outcome of an uncertain event – for example betting on a football game or buying a scratchcard. The amount of money you win or lose depends on the ‘odds’, which are set by the gambling company and determine how much you could make (if you win) or lose (if you don’t).
People gamble for many reasons – for entertainment, to try and get rich quickly, as a way of escape from boredom or stress, or to feel more self-confident or powerful. They may also do it to socialise with friends or colleagues. However, if they start spending more money than they can afford to lose and are addicted to the activity, it becomes a problem. It can have serious effects on relationships, careers and finances.
Problem gambling is a mental health issue, and the symptoms can be treated with psychotherapy. This is a treatment technique that uses talking to a trained therapist (such as a psychologist or clinical social worker). It can help you understand your unhealthy emotions and behaviours, and develop skills to cope with them in healthy ways.
Several types of psychotherapy can be used to treat gambling disorder. They include cognitive behavioural therapy, which helps you challenge your negative thoughts and beliefs about gambling; interpersonal therapy, which looks at how you relate to others; and psychodynamic therapy, which explores your unconscious processes and how they affect your behaviour.