As B.C.’s casinos re-open for business, Phyllis Chan is anticipating a rise in the need for her services.
Following a long closure due to COVID-19 public health restrictions, Chan, a certified counsellor with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association who specializes in treating gambling addiction, expects more clients to contact her about their gambling addiction.
The descent into this form of addiction often begins slowly and with little recognition of a potential problem.
It may start with a casual game of mahjong or dice games with friends or family, which then becomes a regular form of entertainment at a local casino.
“Gambling covers a huge spectrum of activities,” says Chan, who runs her own practice, Horizon Counselling, in Richmond. “And sadly, people usually realize they have a problem near the very end, when they are badly in debt, or their relationships are in trouble.”
A person can live in denial that their gambling is a problem until serious impacts are felt.
“That’s why we call it a hidden addiction,” Chan says.
When someone reaches that point, they can enlist the help of a counsellor such as Chan, who will work with them to stabilize their situation and look to provide remedies to get them on a more personally beneficial route through life.
“I work to help people understand the role of gambling, the causes of their addiction, and ways to deal with it,” Chan says.
Those specifics can change significantly with the individual, but in general, Chan works with clients to rely less on the thrill and lure of monetary gain felt through gambling as a part of their lives.
“It can be hard because gambling can be an exciting part of their social world,” Chan explains. “I explore what the cost of gambling is to them, not only monetarily, but in the time and effort they spend and how that affects their health, both physically and emotionally.
“I also point out how their gambling addiction impacts their personal potential to, perhaps, develop another skill, be a better parent, or just enjoy life outside of gambling.”
Chan also discusses ways to get the support clients seek, outside of gambling, in a healthier, less costly form.
“Often, gambling addicts lose sight of their hobbies, their passions, they even lose their family and friends,” Chan adds. “I work to help restore that for a healthier life.”
For more information on how you, or someone you know, can get assistance with their gambling addiction, visit Horizon Counselling’s website at horizoncounselling.ca.