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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Symposium #341
CE Offered: BACB
Clinical Behavior Analysis and Disordered Gambling
Monday, May 25, 2015
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Texas Ballroom Salon B (Grand Hyatt)
Area: CBM/EAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University)
CE Instructor: Alyssa N. Wilson, Ph.D.

This symposium will provide empirical evidence on best practices when delivering clinical behavior analytic services to disordered gamblers. Current behavior analytic gambling literature shows an overall increase in publication trends, with minimal evidence on behavioral treatment. Behavior therapies including Cognitive-Behavior Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy have been shown to be effective forms of therapy for reducing gambling behaviors. While there is minimal research to date on behavioral therapies for disordered gambling, little is known about the success and or failures of treatment goals supporting abstinence or harm-reduction treatment models. For instance, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for reducing gambling behaviors, yet little research has been conducted on using brief or automated versions of treatment. Similarly, little treatment research has identified mediating variables that impact gambling behaviors such as inter-trial interval or self-report ratings on happiness indexes. Further, limited knowledge exists on the clinical utility of preference and reinforcer assessment on gambling behaviors. Therefore, this symposium will cover these critical clinical topics and provide emerging evidence on successful treatment assessment and outcomes when providing behavioral interventions for disordered gamblers.

Keyword(s): clinical applications, gambling
Preference and Reinforcer Assessments of Disordered Gamblers' Slot Machine Play
AMY K. LOUKUS (Oregon Institute of Technology), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: The current experiments sought to investigate variables related to slot selection and, consequently the effects of machine on participant responding. Participant preference for three- and five-reel Vegas-style electronic slot machines was evaluated according to (a) a Likert rating of subjective preference, (b) a forced ranking preferred machines, (c) anecdotal report of preference, and (d) a paired-stimulus preference assessment. Also examined were the differences in rate of play/latency between spins, and rate of task completion, when participants gambled on their most- and least-preferred machines, or worked to gain access to the machines (respectively). The degree of influence the machine used during experimentation holds on gambling behavior, and Implications for the treatment of disordered slot gambling will be discussed.
Behavior Analytic Treatment for Disordered Gambling: A Review of the Literature
DANIEL TOURIGNY (Saint Louis University), Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University)
Abstract: The current study systematically examined the behavioral literature on treatment options for gambling. An electronic search in PsychINFO was conducted to identify potential articles published on behavioral treatments for gambling. Combinations of the search term gamble* and treatment were conducted. Of the articles identified, information was extracted using a coding instrument created a priori that included five sections as follows. First, participant demographic information was examined, including age, race/ethnicity, gender, and co-morbidity with other diagnoses. Second, gambling proclivity was identified by categorizing the type of assessment tool used, and categorized by problem or problem/disordered gamblers. Third, treatment provided to participants were categorized by type (e.g., Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Exposure Based Therapy, etc.). Fourth, treatment type was categorized as either abstinence-based or harm-reduction based. Fifth, initial treatment goals were categorized as being determined by the participant or by the clinician. Of the 653 articles identified in behavior analytic journals, 110 articles were experimental while only 21 were treatment focused articles. Of the 21 articles assessing behavioral treatment, half (47%) examined Cognitive Behavior Therapy, while only 12 (57.1%) included follow-up data. Implications and possibilities for future directions will be discussed.
Brief Automated Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Disordered Gamblers
Julie Smailys (Saint Louis University), SOPHIA HOWARD (Saint Louis University), Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University)
Abstract: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an empirically based treatment option for a range of behaviors, including disordered gambling. To date, minimal research has been conducted using computer-based therapy, particularly with gambling clients. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to assess the effectiveness of a brief, automated ACT intervention on gambling behaviors. Participants self-referred to complete brief treatment for their gambling use. Participants were asked to play on a slot machine before and after each treatment session, and were told to play for 10-15min or until the researcher told them to stop. During the slot machine activity, participants were asked to rate how each outcome made them feel on a 10 point Likert scale, ranging from sad (1) to neutral (5) to happy (10). Dependent measures included rate of play, risk, magnitude of bet size, and inter-trial intervals between spins. Following treatment, all participants rated losses disguised as wins to closer to neutral or sad, rather than closer to happy, while the majority of participants opted out of playing for the entire gambling duration towards the end of the intervention. Implications for clinical practice will be discussed.



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