Psychological Interventions in Gambling Disorder

  • Meredith K. GinleyEmail author
  • Carla J. Rash
  • Nancy M. Petry


Psychological interventions can improve outcomes and reduce symptom severity for individuals with gambling disorder. This chapter provides an overview of current evidence from moderate- to large-scale randomized controlled trials of psychotherapy interventions for the treatment of gambling problems. Interventions include full-length professionally delivered therapies (behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy), as well as self-directed workbooks and computer-facilitated programs. Motivational interventions, including motivational interviewing, motivational enhancement therapy, and personalized feedback, are also reviewed. This chapter highlights gambling-related treatment outcomes and comparisons between conditions for randomized trials, with an emphasis on treatment dropout. Attrition rates are generally high across all multi-session intervention modalities and formats. Overall, findings suggest that no specific treatment consistently outperforms other active treatments, but cognitive-behavioral therapy does have the most empirical support for the treatment of gambling disorder. In addition, brief motivational interventions are sufficient for some gamblers to change their behavior, particularly those experiencing only a few adverse symptoms from their gambling involvement. Future research efforts will benefit from further refining existing treatments to improve retention, which in turn may enhance effectiveness.


Psychotherapy Gambling treatment Cognitive-behavioral treatment Motivational interviewing Brief interventions Gambling disorder Problem gambling 



Preparation of this manuscript was supported in part by NIH grants R21-DA031897, P50-DA09241, P60-AA03510, R01-HD075630, R01-AA021446, and R01-AA023502. Additional support was provided by the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) at the University of Connecticut. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of CICATS.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meredith K. Ginley
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Carla J. Rash
    • 1
  • Nancy M. Petry
    • 1
  1. 1.Calhoun Cardiology Center—Behavioral HealthUConn HealthFarmingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyEast Tennessee State UniversityJohnson CityUSA

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