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Featured Therapist Interview
Henry R. Lesieur, PsyD, PhD, NCGC, is a licensed clinical psychologist and a nationally certified gambling counselor. Lesieur has been involved with problem gambling and addictions for over 30 years, first as an internationally recognized researcher, and, more recently, as a therapist. He has published a book, The Chase: Career of the Compulsive Gambler, numerous book chapters, and professional journal articles. He founded the Journal of Gambling Studies and has edited it for 12 years.
An instrument that Lesieur developed, the South Oaks Gambling Screen, is in use on six continents and has been translated into more than 35 languages. He has spoken on pathological gambling and has trained other therapists on how to screen, assess, and treat pathological gamblers in 15 states, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, Australia, and New Zealand. He has also been a consultant on legal issues related to pathological gambling in several state courts, federal court, and the Ontario provincial court.
He treats pathological gamblers, spouses, partners and parents in the Rhode Island Gambling Treatment Program in both individual and joint sessions
First, we would like to know a little about your practice.
When did you begin your practice?
Do you have a specialty?
What are your personal strengths as a practitioner?
I have extensive experience, including both research and practice, with pathological gamblers. I am an active team member in a hospital-based outpatient program that involves eight psychologists, six psychiatrists, and a social worker. We have a weekly case conference. I am also part of a meditation group and hypnosis consultation group and have been incorporating both in my clinical practice.
What is one method you use to promote your practice?
I have been written into a state grant for treatment of problem gamblers. As part of a group practice, many of my referrals come from colleagues in the practice. In the past I gave presentations to community mental health and substance abuse agencies and clinics on problem gambling.
How important are board certifications and/or credentialing programs to your practice?
I have an International Gambling Counseling Certification. I am in the process of obtaining a certification from the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
What tips can you offer to colleagues just opening a practice?
Give presentations; join groups of therapists in your area; actively seek out referrals; and do not wait for them to come in.
What sorts of literature do you make available in your waiting room that describe evidence-based therapy?
We have brochures on different DSM disorders in the waiting room. We also have a board with research articles by department members that patients can read while in the office.
What self-help books do you suggest to your clients?
We like the “Treatment that Works” series. We have a handout in the office on self-help books that includes a wide range of books on the major DSM disorders, anger, assertiveness, relationships, etc.
What one book do you recommend as a “must read” to improve your practice?
I am continually in the process of reading from several different books. Books on mindfulness have proven quite helpful.
Are you involved in other types of professional activities in addition to your private practice?
I participate in a meditation seminar and a hypnosis consultation group. I am an invited speaker at regional conferences on problem gambling.
Next, we are interested in your continuing education activities.
How do you stay current with new research or advances in the field as applied to your practice?
I maintain contact with colleagues who suggest things to read. I read articles from the addiction and gambling journals to which I subscribe.
Where do you earn your continuing education credits?
Most recently from Daniel Brown and Associates in Newton, Massachusetts. He is an excellent teacher with a focus on empirically validated treatment. I attend as many workshops as possible (probably 20-25 CEUs per year) in the area where the speaker focuses on empirically validated treatments.
We would also like to know a little about you personally.
Who was your mentor?
Sheila Blume, MD (a psychiatrist). We published articles on pathological gambling together.
What is the last book you read?
I am reading:
- “ACT Made Simple” by Russ Harris
- “Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression” by Zindel Segal, J. Mark Williams and John Teasdale
- “The Cow in the Parking Lot: A Zen Approach to Overcoming Anger” by Leonard Scheff and Susan Edmiston
How do you avoid burnout?
I make it a practice to eat outside of my office every day. I have been limiting the number of hours I see clients in a day and in a week. Also, more recently, I have been seeing fewer gamblers and more individuals with a wider range of disorders.
When not practicing CBT, what do you do for fun?
- Square dance at least once a week
- Kayak in the summer
- Make jigsaw puzzles
- Exercise at gym
- Do yoga
Do you have any other “talents”?
I live; I love; I laugh. I like to cook or bake new things; like comedies; have watched Men in Black at least a dozen times.
We are also interested in some of your views of CBT.
What do you think is the single most important thing CBT can do for your clients?
Give them hope.
Where do you see the field of cognitive and behavioral therapies going over the next 3-5 years?
The integration of mindfulness and possibly hypnosis into more common use.
How do you use the local media to educate your community on the benefits of CBT?
Most of the practitioners in our practice have a CBT focus and are periodically in the media.
Finally, we would like to know your opinions about ABCT.
How long have you been a member of ABCT?
I’ve been a member for 5 or 6 years.
How has ABCT helped you professionally?
The journals are useful and I’ve received a few referrals from the Find A Therapist directory on the website.
What services do you consider the most valuable from ABCT?
What service(s) are missing from ABCT in your role as a practitioner?
I actually do not use it as much as I could.
How do you see the future of ABCT?
Serving as the primary source for empirically validated treatments particularly at a time when insurance companies will reward practitioners for using clinical assessments of progress in treatment.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions!