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You’re not in this alone

Nicholas Bloom and Anastasia Hronis_1984x808_G Vlogs

From left, Nicholas Bloom from the Foundation’s Lived Experience Advisory Committee with Dr Anastasia Hronis

By Lisa Clausen

A new series of Let’s Talk Gambling vodcasts has been created to share practical steps and expert advice on how to support yourself or your loved ones through gambling harm.

Hosted by Lived Experience Advisory Committee member and mental health professional Nicholas Bloom, alongside clinical psychologist Dr Anastasia Hronis, the conversations explore questions often raised by people experiencing problem gambling and those who support them.

Talking about recovery

Seeking professional support can be a crucial first step away from gambling harm. But where to start and how to find the right support?

Episode 1 – What to expect when seeing a counsellor looks at how to find a therapist, how a therapist can help people define their gambling recovery goals, and what the first few sessions might involve.

Nicholas and Anastasia also discuss how powerful professional help can be, and how to tell if you’ve found the right match in a therapist.

‘The research tells us that the therapeutic relationship is one of the biggest predictors of therapeutic outcomes, so it is so important for a person to feel connected to whoever they’re speaking to for help,’ says Anastasia.

Finding meaning

Episode 2 – Values: what they are and why they matter looks at the role of values in shaping our lives and how they can help change a person’s relationship with gambling.

Nicholas and Anastasia talk about the importance of understanding how your personal values – such as spending time with family and friends – can be damaged by gambling.

Defining your values and living by them can also create meaningful new goals and a lasting sense of contentment as you rebuild your life away from problem gambling, says Anastasia.

‘Values are like a compass guiding us through life,’ she says.

Riding the wave

The urge to gamble can arrive suddenly. It can be overwhelming and stressful, and there can be a range of triggers for different people.

Episode 3 – Tips on managing the urge to gamble looks at what urges are, how to see one coming, and strategies to help you manage urges both in the moment and longer term.

‘I describe an urge as being like a wave – it comes, it will reach some sort of peak and it will eventually die down,’ says Anastasia. ‘It’s about getting to the other side of that wave.’

Getting back on track

Episode 4 – What to do when you’ve had a bust unpacks the differences between a bust and a relapse, why busts happen and how to be better equipped to avoid them happening again.

This episode also discusses how to get back on track if you’ve experienced a bust, with a big emphasis on self-compassion and a recognition, says Nicholas, that a lapse is ‘just a moment in time and it doesn’t have to define you.’

Starting the conversation

Talking to someone if you’re worried about their gambling, or sharing your own gambling story, can be challenging. What’s the best way to approach such a sensitive topic?

Episode 5 – How to have the conversation focuses on the importance of choosing the right time and place for a conversation, choosing supportive body language, and how to initiate a non-judgmental and safe conversation.

Nicholas also discusses thinking through what sort of emotional and practical support you can offer, and being patient if someone isn’t ready to talk. ‘Meet that person where they are at,’ he suggests. ‘Maybe we just sow a seed and it’s “hey, I’m here for you as a family member, friend, colleague or support person – and my offer to help you doesn’t expire.”’

This year’s Gambling Harm Awareness Week, which encouraged open discussions about gambling harm as a way of reducing stigma and supporting people to seek help, also has some great information on how to start that conversation.

Staying present

Episode 6 – Embracing mindfulness demystifies this crucial life skill and suggests many ways to build mindfulness exercises into your day, whether on a walk, doing a simple breathing exercise or washing the dishes.

By tapping into a non-judgmental awareness of your feelings, mindfulness can ground you in the present and help redirect your focus away from gambling when you’re dealing with an urge or feeling anxious.

‘Mindfulness is the opposite of being on autopilot,’ says Anastasia. ‘At all points of the trajectory I think mindfulness can be really useful when it comes to gambling.’

If you would like to read more about any of these topics after watching the vodcasts, visit the Gambler’s Help website.

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