Psychological Interventions in Gambling Disorder

Document Type

Book Contribution

Publication Date



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.