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Online counselling for problem gambling: an analysis of client and session characteristics

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posted on 23.02.2017, 02:11 by Rodda, Simone Nicole
Increasingly, help and support are being delivered online for highly stigmatised disorders such as problem gambling. Although popular in terms of rate of uptake, there has been very limited investigation into who attends online counselling, why they attend, or the mechanisms of online counselling. Through five empirical studies using both quantitative and qualitative approaches, this thesis investigates the characteristics, readiness to change and motivations of individuals choosing online over other options. It then explores the mechanisms of online counselling in terms of the content of a counselling session and the character of the client-counsellor interaction. Online counselling participants were most often younger than 40 years of age, more often male and also gambled online. These participants reported high readiness to change but low confidence to manage a gambling urge. Approximately half of participants sought an intervention outside of a crisis situation. Primary motivations for using online counselling, rather than another counselling modality, were related to anonymity, convenience, ease of access and a preference for writing over talking. Participants reported positive session evaluations and immediate improvement in confidence and distress following a single online session. These findings indicate online counselling is attracting a new cohort of treatment seekers who report positive experiences of this new modality. To further advance the field, the effectiveness of a single online counselling session delivered in community settings and the mechanisms (e.g., interaction between client and counsellor, content of sessions) of online counselling need to be further understood. Targeted interventions that are delivered by a clinician have the potential to make a major contribution towards reducing the impact of problem gambling. Future online counselling enhancements could include interventions matched to client motivations for help-seeking and readiness to change.


Principal supervisor

Dan I. Lubman

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Eastern Health Clinical School

Campus location



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences