The Fairview Compulsive Gambling Program is one of the oldest and most comprehensive gambling programs in Minnesota, dating back to the early 1990s. It consists of group therapy, individual counseling and group therapy for families and other concerned persons.
One of the program’s prominent features is the 16 weeks of intensive outpatient therapy, which takes place in two phases. The first portion, consisting of primarily group therapy, includes four sessions per week for six weeks. The second phase includes group meetings twice a week lasting approximately 10 weeks. Research has shown that the longer a gambler receives treatment, the better the outcome tends to be.
Participants are encouraged to use the 12-step recovery approach and consider a church affiliation of their choosing to find a spiritual message and to learn about service opportunities. “We encourage practicing and implementing what’s talked about, including an emphasis on exercise, sleeping and eating,” says David Keoplin, MSE, NCGC II, LADC, program manager and lead counselor at Fairview. “The goal is to get people to replace gambling activities with healthy behaviors.”
Group therapy has particular advantages for problem gamblers. “With group therapy, it quickly becomes apparent to gamblers that they are not alone,” says David. “When they see others with the same struggles, they realize they’re not exactly crazy.” A professional counselor directs the process, helping to point out fallacies, giving ideas and providing support that’s helpful for recovery. Individual therapy is seen as supporting group therapy.
In comparison to residential programs, there are some advantages to intensive outpatient therapy. “Gamblers are able to deal with issues as they come up in the real world,” says David. “They can apply what they’re learning in therapy right away and address the issues as they stay in recovery.” There are times, however, when inpatient programs may be more appropriate. In those cases, Fairview refers patients to residential treatment programs such as the Vanguard Center for Compulsive Gambling in Granite Falls.
Fairview takes care to ensure a smooth transition for patients after the period of intensive therapy concludes. Counselors connect patients with resources such as Gambler’s Anonymous. They also help patients find therapists, psychiatrists and other resources, such as consumer credit counselors to assist with financial problems.
In addition to therapy, the compulsive gambling program at Fairview consists of video presentations and guest speakers. Speakers share their experiences and emphasize the importance of GA and other resources, while videos highlight the stories of other compulsive gamblers.
A staff of four carries out the program, including a primary counselor, a family counselor, an aftercare counselor and a licensed social worker that performs Medicare assessments. At any given time, there may be two to 12 people enrolled in the program.