A limited number of outpatient treatment sessions are offered at no charge for eligible clients. All of our treatment providers are specially trained and qualified in assessment and treatment of problem gamblers and their families. In addition, the council provides closed ended, 12 week psych educational support groups. These groups, geared to different populations, are facilitated by our counselors and are run periodically throughout the State. See "events" for details.
Since its reorganization in the mid 1980’s, The DCGP’s core mission has been to raise public awareness that problem gambling is a treatable disorder and to facilitate network of services for problem gamblers and their families in the state of Delaware. The DCGP was one of the earliest affiliate members of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), the largest problem gambling advocacy organization in the country. As such, its primary purpose is advocacy. Using public policy as its vehicle, it strives to institutionalize problem gambling services at all levels of the larger community.
However, until the 1994 Horseracing Redevelopment Act legalized slot machine gambling in Delaware, there were no resources here for problem gamblers except those provided by this agency under a small contract for services with what is now called DSAMH, beginning in 1986. This contract enabled first one, then two employees to provide all problem gambling services. Apart from that, there were two GA meetings a week in the State, both in New Castle County.
By virtue of having had a nationally certified gambling counselor on the staff, the DCGP has provided at least some level of outpatient and group problem gambling-specific treatment for over 25 years; however, until its expansion in 1996, it had no formally funded treatment program.
Pursuant to the above referenced legislation, a percentage of the State’s share of the slot machine proceeds was placed into an Appropriated Special Fund to be administered by DSAMH and used to fund programs for problem gambling services. Accordingly, the State issued an RFP for expanded basic problem gambling services, which was awarded to the DCGP in late 1996 (SFY 1997). Although the amount was relatively large, it was still not sufficient to justify issuing more than one RFP, so bidders were required to bid on all services included in the RFP, including public awareness, training, helpline, and treatment. The original RFP did not include a formal component for what is now called prevention services, although public information, education, outreach, and advocacy services were provided within its scope.
As a result, the DCGP began to formulate policy relating to treatment services. Unlike alcoholism and drug addiction services, residential treatment for problem gamblers is almost nonexistent. Gambling has long been considered to be a states’ rights issue, with the result that, again unlike substance addictions, there is no national agency charged with policy development or services delivery and no national funding stream upon which to draw. This, combined with the fact that there is no health care coverage for a primary diagnosis of pathological gambling anywhere in the country, either residential or outpatient, has had unfortunate consequences for problem gamblers. Residential treatment is available on a very small scale, but most units are located in psychiatric hospitals that are catastrophically expensive without insurance. Outpatient treatment is much less expensive and more commonly available, but still uninsured. The DCGP studied the very limited literature for outcome studies, but concluded that research simply does not support the assumption that residential treatment is sufficiently superior to outpatient to target scarce resources towards its use.
With this background, and based on the available literature, again very sparse, the DCGP, with help from researchers from the Psychology Department at the University of Delaware, developed an adaptation of the brief outpatient therapy model that had showed promise when used in other behavioral health treatment models.
Over the years, the model has been revised and refined until, 15 years later, the Council has moved from a tentative attitude towards it initially to enormous pride in it as it matured into the model presently in use.
The most unusual feature of this treatment model is the quality assurance and improvement aspect of it. To begin with, the Council subcontracts with qualified treatment providers throughout the State on a fee-for-service basis, ensuring far greater client access than would otherwise be possible. The Council provides training designed to meet a certain uniform standard that all providers are required to meet if they wish to be on the referral list.
Second, all providers are required to submit all client charts to the Council’s main office every month for review. Third, every client chart is reviewed every month for both administrative and clinical standards compliance. Finally, provider payment is contingent on the review process. Individual charts must be remedied before payment is rendered. This system ensures uniformly high treatment quality.