Single-session and web therapy: A research on online SST for gambling intervention

Single-session and web therapy: A research on online SST for gambling intervention

In today ‘s article we will address a highly topical issue with respect to the world of psychotherapies or the growth of psychological services provided via the web , focusing in particular on a research concerning the provision of an online Single Session Therapy service for young people who have a gambling addiction (Rodda et al ., 2016).

What is the situation regarding the use of new technologies for intervention aimed at gambling addiction?

There has been tremendous growth in the provision of online healthcare services over the past decade (King et al. , 2010). Web Counseling has assisted thousands of gamblers internationally and specifically for over 10 years in the UK and since 2009 in Australia .

In the pathological gambling sector, web counseling has proved to be particularly important since research has shown that only 10-15% of people addicted to gambling attend traditional services and seek help (Productivity Commission 2010).


What are the obstacles in seeking help for those with gambling addiction?

Obstacles encountered with respect to treatment include pride , denial , shame , and fear of stigma (Suurvali et al. , 2009; Gainsbury et al ., 2014).


What elements, on the other hand, favor its use?

Importantly, web-based counseling attracts people seeking new types of treatment (Rodda et al ., 2013a, b; Rodda & Lubman, 2014; Dowling et al ., 2014), is seen by clients as easy to access and affordable in as it guarantees anonymity and the opportunity to have discreet contact with a health professional (King et al ., 2006a; Wood & Griffiths, 2007; Rodda et al ., 2013a, b), finally it is often offered without an appointment or waiting lists .


How is the online service provided?

Compared to the range of interventions provided on the Internet (e.g. self-directed, self-assessment), online counseling is the one that comes closest to a therapy as the exchange between client and professional takes place synchronously. The client typically contacts a service when a need arises and can maintain contact for as long as necessary even though counseling sessions typically last about 50 minutes (Rodda & Lubman, 2014).


Is there any research into how online therapy works and how effective it is?

Although there is still not much research into the effectiveness of online counseling , a recent systematic review of the literature found six studies that measured the effectiveness of online chat for different issues (e.g. depression, workplace problems , anxiety, and support in general) (Dowling & Rickwood, 2013), of which four also included single-session effectiveness measurement via chat . Compared to the latter Dowling & Rickwood (2013) concluded that online chat had been effective with a positive effect on distress and perceived problem reduction , as well as aimprovement of well-being and overall functioning of the person .


What does the study conducted by Rodda et al. (2016) and described below?

The Improved Outcomes Following a Single Session Web-Based Intervention for Problem Gambling research conducted by Rodda et al . (2016) suggests that online interventions may have an immediate impact for gambling intervention, although they are yet to be tested with help-seeking adults and particularly those with gambling problems.


What specifically did the research assess?

The study sought to verify the impact of a single online intervention on gambling problems and to examine customer ratings compared to individual chat sessions.  


Who participated in the research?

The research involved 229 participants classified as problem gamblers, recruited between November 2010 and February 2012 by Gambling Help Online , a service that offers immediate and free (24/7) advice and information to anyone interested in gambling of problematic gambling.


What results have emerged?

Completing assessments of rapidity of change and distress both before and after counseling and post-counseling session characteristics to assess depth and fluidity, there was a significant increase in confidence to resist gambling and to a significant reduction in distress after receiving online counseling (Rodda et al ., 2016).



In conclusion, the research reported in the article has allowed us to discover that the positive results associated with single online gambling counseling are consistent with what has been found in the literature on Single Session Therapy considered effective for a wide range of disorders (Talmon 1990). Although further follow-up is needed to determine the impact of a single online counseling session on the long-term outcomes of the intervention, the current study expands the available literature on the topic to ascertain that a single online counseling session has an immediate impact on the safety and distress of gamblers, who experience at least short-term positive effects.


Angelica Giannetti
Team Psychotherapist of the Italian Center
for Single Session Therapy


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