Reset user: When I used the app it made me think about what it is that makes me gamble. Just forcing myself to focus on this question was a bit of a circuit breaker. I started to feel calmer, more present, not caught up with the million competing thoughts telling me to gamble, gamble, gamble.
By Tony Clarkson, Principal Clinal Advisor, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation
Gambling apps have been around for years, making it easy for people to place bets, but also creating psychological dependency through the use of notifications and lifelike in-app game play.
A study in the European Addiction Research journal has suggested that betting apps may be one of the most harmful ways to gamble, especially in the absence of any oversight. And, of course, research consistently shows that gambling addiction often goes hand-in-hand with mental ill-health.
With an estimated 22 per cent of Victoria’s mental health sector costs related to gambling, mental health professionals are likely to encounter clients who need specialised gambling support in addition to mental health treatment.
Complex and frequently experienced with other issues, like alcohol and other drugs and family violence, gambling harm is not always the reason a client presents for help or the issue most immediately in need of attention. And not everyone is ready for, or comfortable with, formal counselling.
Recognising a need for more accessible self-help tools – and taking a leaf out of industry’s playbook – gambling clinicians and researchers from Deakin University teamed up with the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation to create Reset, an app that helps people to get on top of a gambling addiction.
Reset how you think about gambling
Based on a randomised clinical trial, Reset uses the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing (MI) to mimic the therapeutic experience as people complete a series of modules at their own pace.
The six modules are based on the stages of change model and cover getting started (with some assessments), getting ready, taking control, taking action, managing urges and maintaining change.
As a standalone self-help tool, Reset is a discreet and convenient way for people to explore their own experiences of gambling harm, understand and manage their triggers, learn to manage high-risk situations and develop strategies to quit or cut back on gambling.
However, the app can also be used in conjunction with therapeutic counselling to help reinforce, or further explore, strategies and insights discussed during counselling sessions. This can be particularly effective with therapists who regularly use CBT and MI techniques as part of their practice.
In addition to helping people understand why they gamble, Reset allows users to calculate how much and how often they gamble, and how this compares with others. Research shows that comparing a person’s gambling spend and frequency to the national average can help them gain a clearer understanding of their gambling behaviour.
The interactive app also has a variety of relaxation and mindfulness exercises, designed to de-escalate arousal and manage symptoms that are often shared between gambling addiction and mental ill-health.
Some of these psychoeducation and practical tools can have multiple benefits, helping the user to understand more about themselves or manage difficult urges or emotions. So while Reset is designed specifically to help people address gambling behaviours, it may also assist in improving focus, self-awareness or feelings of anxiety.
Available for free, Reset can be accessed from ResetApp.com.au or app stores.
Gambler’s Help – supporting health professionals
As well as providing free, professional and confidential services to people experiencing gambling harm, Gambler’s Help counsellors are available to advise GPs and other health professionals on treatment options and referrals – call 1800 858 858 or visit gamblershelp.com.au.