Ricky* was in his mid 50s when he approached Gambler’s Help Southern (GHS) in 2009. He was working full time and living with his wife and three children. They were 17, 19 and 21 then.
Ricky has a long history of problem gambling and had sought counselling at different times of his life prior to his last request for service in 2009. His first contact with GHS was in 2003. He reported problem gambling on horses and pokie machines then. When Ricky approached GHS in 2009, his family just found out about the extent of his gambling on the pokies. Ricky was suffering from a heart condition and from panic attacks at the time. The stress of problem gambling took the toll on his health.
Ricky’s father was a WWII veteran and had a significant gambling problem (horse racing). Ricky still has vivid childhood memories of his father’s gambling: ‘In those days, men often dropped by the pub after work and placed their bets with SP bookmakers. Quite often, my dad used all his wages to bet. My mum was a nurse and worked very hard to support the family. My family was struggling financially due to my father’s gambling problem. We grew up in commission housing as my parents could not afford to buy a house…’ Ricky recalled. Ricky found it hard to understand how he got hooked by problem gambling given the heartache he suffered as a child: ‘Why I did it when I saw what it caused?’.
The drawing process has helped Ricky to reflect on how each of his family members was affected by problem gambling. He commented in one of the sessions that it was the first time he saw his gambling problem through his wife’s eyes. He also seemed to have more insight on his father’s gambling. He became interested in intergenerational gambling issues. He later found out that his grandfather was a heavy gambler. The counselling process also got Ricky thinking about how his gambling might have affected his children. He has been keeping a watchful eye over his children’s gambling behavior.
Ricky’s biggest motivation for stopping gambling has been his family. He reported better relationships with his wife and children since he stopped gambling on the pokies. Ricky’s gambling has affected his self-esteem, self-confidence and trust. The counselling process was not just for him to report on his gambling. (Ricky likened counseling as a ‘weigh in’ process in Weight Watcher). It is also a process to rebuild the trust in his family relationships and to regain self-confidence.Ricky hopes that his drawings and stories may help somebody. He hopes that it would help those struggling with problem gambling to stop gambling.
IDT uses right-brain drawing and writing techniques to complement and extend the left-brain, talking and cognitive processes. The page is used as a therapeutic tool – drawings and words fill the page as the therapeutic conversations unfold. Typically, Ricky creates 1 to 2 drawings in a session.
* ‘Ricky’ is a pseudo name.