Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Gambling Disorder in Veterans

Kindbridge Behavioral Health together with Kindbridge Research Institute is dedicated to supporting a population segment that is one of the most vulnerable to problem gambling – military veterans. Our Colorado Military Problem Gambling Research, Education & Recovery Program is a testament to this.

One approach employed by our therapists in the treatment of active and inactive military personnel is Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). What is ACT? It’s an action-oriented psychotherapy practice that is rooted in traditional behavior therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Veterans that we work with learn to stop avoiding, denying, and fighting their inner emotions and, instead, accept that these deep-seeded feelings are appropriate responses to certain circumstances and situations. Armed with this new understanding, they begin to accept these struggles and commit to making necessary changes in their behavior. ACT focuses on the here and now, and Kindbridge therapists help veterans understand and frame their choices to align with values and goals.

Acceptance and commitment therapy for gambling disorder in veterans has been thrust into the community spotlight of late. Results from a systematic review conducted by Swansea University and Kings College London titled “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Co-occurring Gambling Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Veterans” were just released. The findings align with the ACT approach that has been used by Kindbridge in veteran problem gambling treatment for years.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Gambling

Collective studies featured U.S. armed forces/military, delivered ACT/acceptance-based therapy, and aimed to improve post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or gambling disorder (GD) outcomes. The reason that the review looked to both PTSD and GD is that the two conditions are known to co-occur in military personnel. It’s also important to note that the systematic review followed a narrative synthesis method which draws from multiple studies to summarize and explain the findings of the synthesis. From over 1,100 results, 39 studies were fully screened and 14 met inclusion criteria.

What were the outcomes? ACT produced an improvement in PTSD and/or GD within each qualified study. Given the comorbidity of PTSD and GD, there are further positive implications for employing ACT for veteran support.

The preliminary findings of this most recent systematic review are promising. That being said, more research is needed on the delivery format and content of ACT sessions. Additional studies are required on context-specific delivery such as in-person vs group therapy, while method of ACT intervention to factor in manual vs unstructured and digital therapeutics is recommended. Those seeking to support veterans worldwide are also encouraged to use non-US samples in future systematic reviews.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Gambling

Source: Research Gate

Are you a veteran struggling with problem gambling and would like to learn more about acceptance and commitment therapy and/or other approaches used by Kindbridge? Reach out for help via the following:

CALL +1 (877) 426-4258


Email [email protected]

Kindbridge - Get Started