Despite the many consequences of gambling disorders (GD) on the quality of the couple relationship, most treatments favour an individual approach.
Inspired by Alcohol Behavioral Couple Therapy (ABCT), our team developed Integrative Couple Treatment for Pathological Gambling (ICT-PG).
This treatment aims to reduce/stop gambling through traditional cognitive behavioural treatment combined with relationship improvement strategies (communication, problem solving, mutual reinforcement, reducing relational reinforcement of gambling). A total of 80 couples in which one member had a gambling disorder were recruited in nine specialized treatment centres in Québec and randomly assigned to ICT-PG or the individual treatment usually offered in specialized addiction treatment centres.
These promising results emphasize the importance of including partners in the treatment of gambling disorders.
Globally, the results indicate that couples in both treatment groups improved over time (22-month post-admission follow-up). However, on many indicators of gambling severity, the ICT-PG participants showed a greater improvement compared with those who received the individual treatment. The couple-based treatment was also associated with improved relationship functioning, in terms of conjugal satisfaction, mutual support, ability to communicate and domestic conflict resolution. In addition, gamblers assigned to ICT-PG presented fewer symptoms of depression and used fewer avoidance and distancing coping strategies regarding their problematic gambling behaviours.
The results also highlight that partners assigned to the couple-based treatment were less depressed. These promising results emphasize the importance of including partners in the treatment of gambling disorders.
Joël Tremblay, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
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Deposit of the research report: February 2019