It’s not uncommon for clients to start treatment expecting their psychologist to wave a magic wand and ‘abracadabra’ their mental health problems away. Working with a psychologist is actually about building a collaborative relationship and working together to help the client overcome and manage their difficulties. One of the pivotal factors in the success of treatment is the client’s willingness to change.

The stages of change are frequently talked about in relation to problems with addiction so we’ve outlined the kind of journey you can expect through these stages if you struggle with gambling, substance, or alcohol-related behaviours.

1. Pre-contemplative: “Problem? What problem? I don’t have a problem! I’m fine!” You’re in denial and unlikely to take kindly to the suggestion that you need help.

2. Contemplative: You’ve recognised your habits may be an issue. They’re impacting your daily living, causing a lot of stress, or impacting your relationships but you’re not quite ready to take the plunge and make a change.

3. Preparation: You’ve come to accept your addiction is more in control than you are and you’re ready to commit to changing that. You’re likely to experience more success with professional help than going it alone and there are psychological strategies to help you fully transition from the contemplative to preparation stages if necessary.

4. Action: This is where the real work begins with your therapist. From understanding your triggers to managing your addictive behaviours and learning healthy coping strategies, your psychologist can guide and support you in taking back control of your life.

5. Maintenance: All those changes in behaviour get consolidated and the addictive habits won’t seem quite so tempting any more. Slips in willpower are still possible but overall your new behaviours will become more automatic and permanent.

6. Termination and Lapse vs Relapse: It takes time and perseverance but you can live life with the confidence that your addictive habits are behind you. Understanding the difference between a lapse and relapse is important so you can appreciate that occasional slip-ups (lapses) are learning opportunities for strengthening your coping strategies rather than ‘failures’ that denote the permanent return of previous addictive behaviours (relapse).

If you think you’re ready to take the first step towards change, contact PsychMed today on Call 8232 2424 to book an appointment or find out more about our gold standard SA Intensive Gambling Help Service and MATRIX program. You can also call our dedicated gambling help line anonymously on Call 8232 3333 .