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March 17, 2011

Social work honored for its work on problem gambling

The Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Council on Problem Gambling, recognized Pitt’s School of Social Work March 8 during National Problem Gambling Awareness Week for its support of the education and treatment of problem gamblers and for its research on gambling addiction.

In February 2008, social work launched a six-month training program for human service professionals to obtain national certification in gambling addiction counseling. Approximately 150 clinicians have received certification to date, most from western Pennsylvania.

The school also surveyed other social work schools to determine the extent to which social work students are learning about issues associated with problem gambling.

In 2008, more than a year before the opening of the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, the school released a report, “Raising the Stakes: Assessing Allegheny County’s Human Service Response Capacity to the Social Impact of Gambling,” which surveyed 137 agencies to discover whether they offered or were preparing to offer gambling prevention, intervention and treatment services. The report’s findings suggested that more than 75 percent of the agencies surveyed did not screen for or treat problem gambling and that most agencies did not feel problem gambling was an issue for their clients.

Co-authors of the report were social work faculty members Rafael Engel, Dan Rosen and Tracy Soska.

The report is available at

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