As a cooperative project, Gambling Recovery Ministries (GRM) and Lawrenceburg, Ind. Community Mental Health Center, co-hosted May 16 the first-ever Problem Gambling Conference for southeastern Indiana at the Community Mental Health Center in Lawrenceburg. Attending were clergy and laity, who traveled from Jasper, Jeffersonville, Indianapolis, Shelbyville and Richmond.

The Conference provided an outstanding opportunity to receive current and relevant information on problem gambling, treatment and recovery issues from leading experts in the field. National speakers, Curtis Barrett, Ph.D., ABPP, and Margo Bristow, MA, were the presenters; and two guest speakers from Gam-Anon, also, shared "real-life" information and practical advice in terms of coping with a loved one's problem gambling.

Barrett, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, at the University of Louisville, is a designated research qualified Cognitive Behavioral Therapy therapist and included valuable insights within his presentation on disordered gambling behavior with regard to both treatment related topics and general information for non-therapists. A nationally known pioneer in the mental health field of problem gambling, Barrett brought together, in his instruction, the knowledge, research, and years of experience with groundbreaking lifestyle programs.

Bristow, a Substance Abuse and Problem Gambling Counselor and Adjunct Instructor at Triton College, shared up-to-date information on her current work with teen gamblers in the Chicago area of Oak Park. As a counselor with twenty-five years of experience working with teenagers and their families, Bristow provided specialized attention to teen gambling behavior in school, home and social settings. Her presentation was of particular interest to persons who counsel and/or work with youth and parents.

Coordinating this pioneering project were the Rev. Janet Jacobs, Director of Gambling Recovery Ministries (GRM), and John Mallery, director of Outpatient Services at the Community Mental Health Center.

"This is a significant, initial step in providing professional training opportunities on problem gambling treatment and recovery issues to persons of all professions, in our Tri-State area (Greater Cincinnati area)," Jacobs said in opening remarks.

This conference was made possible by a grant from the City of Lawrenceburg Community Grant Program, administered by Dearborn Community Foundation.

Jacobs said, "Training conferences such as this serve to equip persons of all professional backgrounds to provide help more effectively to those impacted both directly and indirectly by compulsive gambling. Without the support of the grant given for the project, we could not have offered this Conference or brought the presenters and their high quality of instruction to our area."

GRM is an Advance Special of the South Indiana United Methodist Conference. Community Mental Health Center, Inc. is a five-countywide mental health agency in southeastern Indiana.

For more information on treatment and support group resources for problem gamblers and their families, contact the Rev. Janet Jacobs at 812-926-1052 (leave a message) or e-mail at jjacobs@grmumc.org; or call Community Mental Health Center, Inc. at 812-537-1302.