By the time a person suffering from a gambling addiction seeks professional help, they are often in dire straits. In addition to the emotional turmoil that causes some to feel suicidal and the path of destruction in personal relationships that often follows in their wake, there is also a very practical matter: most gambling addicts have spent their last penny.

While gambling counselors are equipped to help individuals manage their addiction, seek more healing ways and eventually start on the road to recovery, few have an in-depth knowledge of how the gambler can clean up from financial ruin. At best, counselors may have a few worksheets on basic budgeting that they can give to their clients, but they don’t have the range of tools that financial professionals can provide.

Recognizing that the lack of financial counseling represents a significant gap in treatment for many clients, MNAPG has dedicated resources for GamFin, an online financial education community for professionals in problem gambling, so that financial counselors can meet with individuals on an as-needed basis. The service is a boon to counselors — it represents an added and important service they can offer to their clients — and can provide an important anchor leg for those in recovery.

“When I heard that we could bring in a financial specialist to talk to our clients in a group session, I was thrilled,” says Amy Dady, a problem gambling counselor with Fairview Health Services. “It gives people a chance to ask about anything, such as budgeting, current financing, FICO scores, paying down debt, bankruptcy and future planning.”

Clients who want to ask specific questions can meet privately with the financial specialist — at no cost. “When clients know they can talk to the specialists for free, they open up and realize what an issue it is for them,” says Amy.

Access to financial counseling has received positive feedback. “I’m so delighted that my clients can go to them for counseling,” says Amy. “So much of the struggle and stress patients have is around the financial part. It’s great that we can provide these added benefits and that they don’t have to pay for them.”

“The dedication of these financial resources speaks to our larger effort to wanting to provide the best services to our stakeholders, in this case our counselors,” says Susan Sheridan Tucker, executive director of MNAPG. “Counselors lack financial training, but we feel it’s essential that gamblers have access to financial literacy services that can help them in their recovery. When counselors work in concert with the financial advisor, it’s a more comprehensive approach to a person’s overall recovery.”

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