Case Study Reflection on Pathological Gambling

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This reflective report is based on a case study. The main character of the case study is a 50 years old woman, Lin, who has married for 15 years with her husband, Geoff. Lin and Geoff have a 14 years old daughter. They both moved from Malaysia to Australia about 10 years ago. An interview has been taken with Lin and Geoff to have an initial assessment in terms of their physical and mental health conditions. This report will first demonstrate the reason for referral, present a brief psychosocial assessment of Lin’s situation. Issues associated with cross-culture in social work practice will be illustrated. It will demonstrate the nature of developing social work relationship. It shows the strength of the relationship that I built, and the skills based on theoretical framework in the therapy session will be outlined. This report will also provide a plan for future intervention.

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Reason for referral

Lin was referred by court to participate the gambling counselling group as her life has been heavily affected by gambling issues. Lin has lost her job as a casual shop assistant, because she stole $5, 000 from the shop. Additionally, she lost her inheritance from her mother, which is about $20, 000 due to her gambling issues. Lin’s behaviour has been illustrated by Ellis et al. (2018) who pointed out that people with gambling disorders tend to engage in illegal behaviours and are more likely to be arrested compared with people without gambling disorders. The statistics have shown that 57% of people with gambling disorders have been reported to have illegal behaviours, and 23.9% have a history of arrest. In fact, people may also have high stress level as gambling disorders. They are more likely to suffer suicidality as engaging in illegal behaviours which is caused by distress from gambling disorders. Statistics also showed that gamblers who has arrest history have the tendency to suffer from anti-social behaviours and personality disorder. It is enough evidence to suggest that gambling issues and gambling-related behaviours have an association with the person’s psychosocial status. Therefore, in order to assist with Lin, it would be better to come up with a psychosocial assessment of Lin’s situation.

Brief psychosocial assessment

Lin is depressed and anxious, which is derived from her unhappy marriage and her daughter who is skipping from school constantly. It appears that Lin and her husband have drifted apart as her husband occupied by his work. It means that her husband has spent a huge chunk of family into his work instead of looking after his family, especially their daughter. In fact, her daughter, Mary, has been reported that she is constantly skipping from school as distress from her household. She has showed a sign of addicting to social media as she does not have many friends and always isolate herself in the room to play computer or phone to attend social media. Lin as her mother has no idea how to improve the relationship with her husband and daughter in order to solve the existing issues. Sooner, she realized that only way for her to relieve from the stress is to play poker machines in order to temporarily escape from issues in her household. It also showed that Lin’s gambling disorders might have an association with her father as a gambler. Her father always took her to horse track to gamble, which might have huge impacts on her later behaviours. Lloyd et al. (2010) pointed out that three primary motives to drive individuals to participate in gambling including mood regulation, to obtain money and pleasure from gambling. It also shows that females are more likely to participate gambling in order to regulate mood instead of driving by other two primary motives in comparison to males. It is also applied to the age factor as well. It means that older people are tended to gamble in order to regulate their mood. It fits into Lin’s needs for enjoyment and escape from reality. It can be conceded as the most important elements to push Lin into gambling.

Cross - culture social work practice

With the development of globalization, there is an increasingly growing culture diversity in modern society. Consequently, it is one of the necessary essential qualities for counsellors to be aware and understand cultural sensitivity in multi-cultural environment. According to Vargas and Wilson (2011), social workers need to understand culture diversity implications to each individual including unique experience, religions, beliefs, norms, values, traditions in order to achieve the goal of expending clientele and foster the strengths of the professional relationships. In this case, Lin’s family moved from Malaysia around ten years ago. She has developed the pattern of pathological gambling in the last two years. It means that Lin’s Malaysian background should be considered as an important factor in the counselling process to provide feasible solution for her gambling problem. Assessment needs to be completed by counsellor to measure the impacts of Lin’s transformation from well-established Asian cultures from past to current Australian culture. It can estimate the impacts of adapting new cultural environment in her gambling disorders. In addition, it also needs to value the meaning of marriage and gambling in Lin’s case and adjust the cultural difference in compassion to counsellor’s own culture in order to provide solution for Lin’s gambling issue.

Constantine and Ladany (2000) also illustrated that it is necessary to adjust the culture difference as the therapists’ own culture might have an impact on their relationship and work with cross-cultural clients. It implies that therapist’s own culture can cause choosing inappropriate techniques to approach client’s issue, conceptualize client’s behaviours, misunderstand the therapy structure and process with cross-cultural clients. Cultural self-awareness can be defined as a capacity of recognition and inspection of behaviours including cultural values, beliefs and perceptions, which is essential for the development of cultural competence. It is equipped with different lenses, which allows individuals to understand the intentions and motives of their acts. It can also play a role to provide practitioners a clear view of distinguished behaviours from different culture backgrounds or perspectives as an effective tool to adjust practitioner’s perspectives as required in order to improve performance in practise. Thus, there is more than enough evidence to suggest that cultural self-awareness plays an important role on social work practice. In fact, the majority of the practitioners find that cultural self-awareness is difficult to apply in practise as people tend to evaluate other culture in general, but rarely evaluate their own culture.

Nature of developing social work relationship

The nature of developing social work relationship is to create a safe environment where the clients feel safe to disclose their concerns. Particularly, it is significant impacts in which social work practitioners need to build an effective relationship with the involuntary clients. In fact, from social work practitioner’s view, the essence of good practice in complex work is to build up engaging relationships. It is emphasized the relationships, which develops strengths, provides creative solutions between practitioners and clients and has positive impacts of counselling process in practise. The good engaging relationships also provide opportunities to show warmth feeling and non-judgemental concerns between clients and social work practitioners. In this case, Lin felt guilty and embarrassed about what has happened. After Geoff was informed about Lin’s behaviours, he was acting angrily, and perceived that his family was letting him down. This negative reaction from Geoff also affects Lin’s mental status. She feels shamed about what has happened. This shame feeling from Lin can make her bottle up about herself and unwilling to participate in interventions that focus on her gambling issues. In order to overcome this, social workers need to efficiently build a constructive relationship to allow Lin to talk about her concerns, which enables practitioners have a better understanding of her situations and provide therapy to address the underlying issues. This is also the strength of the relationship that I built in the interview. I actively listened to her concerns and manage to understand the underlying issues under the what has happened while interacting with Lin. This patience and non-judgement approach could make Lin be more willing to open herself and provide customised therapy structure and process to fix her underlying issues.

Theoretical framework – Strength approach

The most effective method in the session is to listen actively to client’s story with full attention including the rhythms and patterns of those conservations. The aiming of actively listening is to find themes of hope and courage to reinforce them in therapy process. Strengths approach is to focus on listening actively and finding the signs of capacity and resourcefulness in client’s life instead of exploring issues and shortcomings. It means that social work practitioners should emphasize client’s capacities and existing strengths, which could lead to positive changes in the process of reinforcing and identifying the existing strengths based on strengths-oriented approach. Strengths perspective approach is not only confined in identifying the strengths of individuals, it also tries to seek out the strengths within their formal and informal social cycles and networks. The strengths approach allows social workers to make use of the existing resources or strengths in individual and group level to address current underlying issues in sessions. Thus, I utilized these skills in the interview were based on strengths-based approach. I listened actively to Lin’s story and used open questions to lead her to find courage and hope to deal with her underlying issues in the session. In this session, I applied the strengths approach to identify and reinforce the existing strengths in Lin’s characters and her marriage, which could help her realized the existing strengths and reinforce the theme of hope and courage to deal with her current gambling issues. It means that it could lead to positive outcomes in the therapy sessions by revisiting and reinforcing her existing strengths.

Additionally, Lin has mentioned that her gambling issues could also have negative impacts on her daughters including skipping school and addicting to social media. Thus, Lin’s future intervention plan will be focused on Lin’s gambling disorder and its impact on her daughter’s rebellious behaviours.Future intervention Plan:In the future intervention plan, assessment will be taken place to measure Mary’s current situation from her biological, social and psychological aspects. After the assessment, she will be referred to other professionals in order to solve her issues, which is associated with issues in her household. Self- exclusion will be utilized to help Lin to tackle her gambling disorders. Self-exclusion involves extreme form of pre-commitment, which is to bar themselves from participate gambling games in one or more gambling venues voluntarily. It means that venue or authorised gaming staff can deny their requests to enter gambling venue. In fact, self-exclusion imposes risks on individuals as breaching this agreement can result in trespassing. Self-exclusion has been approved efficacy as helping participants to regain controls of their financial issues and relationship problems. It is also regarded as the beginning of recovery by many participates. This result is may related to social worker’s counselling skills in the initial interview.


Lin’s pathological gambling might be influenced by her father; however, it is highly associated with the stress from her intimate relationships. As a result, she needs to use gambling to regulate her mood and escape from the reality. It also leads to the gambling-related illegal behaviours such as theft. In order to deal with gambling disorder, it is necessary for social workers to actively listen to the clients and identify their strengths. Additionally, there is a need for social workers to build relationship with the clients to make them feel safe to take about their concerns, which in turn enhances the capacity of the workers to assess the clients. Culture as an important factor should be considered by practitioners while working with cross-cultural clients. Self-exclusion programme is provided as a solution to mitigate Lin’s gambling disorders.

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