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A cognitive-behavioral analysis of Gamblers Anonymous

Tony Toneatto

Abstract


Cognitive-behavioral therapy is often placed in opposition to twelve-step approaches in the treatment of addictions. While the former is accompanied by considerable empirical support and tend to be relatively brief and symptom-focused, twelve-step approaches are often more widely available, accessible without cost and can provide long-term, ongoing support. Very few studies have directly compared these approaches in the treatment of problem gambling. The purpose of this article is to briefly examine the twelve steps of Gamblers Anonymous (GA) and show their essential comparability to concepts and strategies commonly found in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The striking similarities in intention and process between these two approaches are shown for each of the 12 steps despite their differences in their conceptual and linguistic framework. The result of this analysis is to encourage integration of these complementary approaches based on the common ingredients of therapeutic change rather than on ideologically-based differences.


Keywords


problem gambling; Gamblers Anonymous; cognitive-behavioral therapy

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4309/jgi.2008.21.7

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