Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #194
CE Offered: BACB
Assessment and Treatment of Disordered Gambling
Sunday, May 25, 2014
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
W175c (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: EAB/PRA; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University)
CE Instructor: Alyssa N. Wilson, Ph.D.

This symposium will highlight emerging evidence for the functional assessment and treatment of disordered gambling. Presenters will discuss evidence for using the Gambling Functional Assessment Revised with disordered gamblers, applying experimental functional analytic methodology for identifying maintaining variables in gambling treatment, and outcomes of an eight-week treatment model of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for gambling. Data will be presented on how to properly assess function of gambling play, both with paper pencil assessments and with experimental analyses. Further, process and outcome data gathered during behavioral therapy for gambling will also be presented.

Keyword(s): behavior therapy, functional assessement, gambling

Validating the Gambling Functional Assessment-Revised in a Sample of Problem/Disordered Gamblers and in Treatment-Seeking Gamblers

JEFFREY N. WEATHERLY (University of North Dakota), Heather K. Terrell (University of North Dakota), Halley Claudel (McNeese State University), Cam L. Melville (McNeese State University)

The Gambling Functional Assessment-Revised (GFA-R) was designed to determine the extent to which the respondent's gambling behavior is maintained by positive reinforcement or escape. Research to date indicates it performs well in university- and general-population samples. The present studies tested the GFA-R in a sample of problem/disordered gamblers and in a sample of treatment-seeking disordered gamblers. Data from 105 probable problem/disordered gamblers were subjected to a confirmatory factor analysis, which indicated that a 15-item GFA-R described well the data from these participants. Other psychometric properties of the GFA-R were very good to excellent. The GFA-R was then completed by individuals who were receiving treatment for disordered gambling. For this group, endorsing gambling as an escape, but not for positive reinforcement, was a significant predictor of the number of symptoms of the disorder the individuals displayed as well as their scores on the South Oaks Gambling Screen. These results replicate those from previous research using non-treatment-seeking participants. Overall, the results from these studies indicate that the GFA-R is a valid measure for use with disordered gamblers and that the contingency of escape is closely linked to disordered gambling.


Toward a Behavioral Functional Analysis of Gambling

MACK S. COSTELLO (Western Michigan University), Jamie Hirsh (Western Michigan University), Neil Deochand (Western Michigan University), R. Wayne Fuqua (Western Michigan University)

Given the high rates of gambling in the United States and the growing population of disordered gamblers, there is a need for effective assessment that informs intervention or treatment for eliminating or reducing disordered gambling. Simulation and experimental functional analysis (FA) assessments have been incredibly successful in various areas of psychology. An experimental FA of gambling behavior was developed for initial testing. A laboratory simulation was used so that gambling behavior could be directly observed under a variety of possible controlling variables. Contextual factors of a gambling environment (sounds, other players, etc.) were simulated with equipment and confederates. Additionally, alternatives to the gambling environment (e.g. non-gambling games, work tasks, etc.) were available in the FA, which was adapted from items in versions of the Gambling Functional Assessment (GFA).


Assessing the Effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Disordered Gambling

Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University), KRISTIN ROBINSON (Saint Louis University), Tara M. Grant (Saint Louis University)

While a multitude of behavioral treatments are available for disordered gambling, empirical support is increasing for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). The current presentation will put forth case study evidence that support ACT as an empirically based treatment option. Treatment involved 8 one-on-one sessions, each session ranging from 60-90 minutes. Sessions were constructed around the ACT model, consisting of six interdependent processes: acceptance, defusion, contact with present moment, self as context, values, and committed action. Client goals included gambling responsibly and completely abstaining. Data were collected throughout treatment involving individuals who scored a 5 or above on the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS), indicating a high proclivity to gamble. Direct and indirect measures were taken before, during, and after the completion of ACT sessions. Direct behavioral measures include risk, persistence and magnitude of gambling behaviors on an actual slot machine. Indirect measures include psychometrics, a thought diary, and near-miss ratings. Results show changes in gambling behaviors throughout treatment, including an improvement in psychometric scores, and self-reports of having more control over gambling behavior. These results add empirical support of ACTs effectiveness on decreasing gambling behaviors across pathological gamblers.




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