Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 955–973 | Cite as

Change Strategies and Associated Implementation Challenges: An Analysis of Online Counselling Sessions

  • Simone N. RoddaEmail author
  • Nerilee Hing
  • David C. Hodgins
  • Alison Cheetham
  • Marissa Dickins
  • Dan I. Lubman
Original Paper


Self-change is the most frequent way people limit or reduce gambling involvement and often the first choice of people experiencing gambling-related problems. Less well known is the range of change strategies gamblers use and how these are selected, initiated or maintained. This study examined change strategies discussed in counselling transcripts from 149 clients who accessed a national online gambling help service in Australia. Using thematic analysis, we identified the presence of six change strategies; cash control and financial management, social support, avoiding or limiting gambling, alternative activities, changing thoughts and beliefs, and self-assessment and monitoring. Four implementation issues were also identified; a mismatch between need and strategy selection or maintenance; importance and readiness versus the cost of implementation; poor or unplanned transitions between strategies; and failure to review the helpfulness of strategies resulting in premature abandonment or unhelpful prolonged application. This study is the first to identify change strategies discussed in online counselling sessions. This study suggests change strategies are frequently discussed in online counselling sessions and we identified multiple new actions associated with change strategies that had not previously been identified. However, multiple implementation issues were identified and further work is required to determine the helpfulness of change strategies in terms of their selection, initiation and maintenance.


Gambling Self-help Internet Counselling Treatment Change strategies Minimal treatment 



We gratefully acknowledge Gambling Research Australia for providing financial assistance for this project. Thank you to Professor John Cunningham for his feedback on a draft of this paper. Thank you to Orson Rapose for his technical assistance and the counsellors and clients of Gambling Help Online who provided and accessed this service.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simone N. Rodda
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Nerilee Hing
    • 4
  • David C. Hodgins
    • 5
  • Alison Cheetham
    • 1
    • 3
  • Marissa Dickins
    • 1
    • 3
  • Dan I. Lubman
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Turning Point, Eastern HealthFitzroyAustralia
  2. 2.School of Public Health and Psychosocial StudiesAuckland University of TechnologyNorthcote, AucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.Eastern Health Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health SciencesMonash UniversityBox HillAustralia
  4. 4.Health, Medical and Applied SciencesCentral Queensland UniversityBundabergAustralia
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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