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Gambling Disorder Trainer Certification

The History Behind the Development of the GDTCT Curriculum and Train the Trainer

By Wiley Harwell, DMin, LPC, ICGC-II 

The development of the Gambling Disorder Trainer Certification and training curriculum began with the need for an evidence-based problem gambling/Gambling Disorder clinical training which could begin the conversation for what a national training standard would include. Currently, there are nineteen states with a state-recognized certification, certificate, specialty, or endorsement program. Others accept or require the ICGC certification through the IGCCB, and several states have no requirements and do not fund Gambling Disorder treatment services. There has never been a nationwide training or certification standard. It was my hope that an effort to develop a research-based curriculum for the 30-hour certification training would be a positive contribution to the field of problem gambling and encourage future trainers, counselors, and researchers to add to the process.

Recognition must go to Joanna Franklin who has led the original efforts to train counselors, and many were recipients of her trainings. This training seeks to build on her work through a unified effort to establish a curriculum that is evidence- and research-based and meets the needs of treating those with a Gambling Disorder.

Initially a committee met in 2018 in Kansas City prior to the Midwest Conference on Problem Gambling and Substance Abuse to outline what a training curriculum might include. Since 2018, the ongoing work of developing the curriculum for the gambling disorder certification training has continued, with Lori Rugle, Wiley Harwell, Tana Russell, and Kenzie Simpson meeting several times a month to finish the project.

After the initial PowerPoint curriculum sessions were drafted, a focus group made up of trainers, researchers, and counselors reviewed the material and gave feedback which led to several revisions. Also included in the review process was an appendix of over 200 pages that includes exercises, assessment tools, worksheets, and resources, as well as a reference list of all works cited in the PowerPoint slides and appendix, and a sample of a counselor workbook for clinical practice.

It must be acknowledged that each state and each trainer must add some material that is pertinent to their state or region. A session titled “Regional Issues” provides a specific opportunity for customized state-relevant data and issues. The curriculum has been conveniently organized into a suggested agenda for a four-day training/30-hour program, though sessions are packaged individually and can easily be re-arranged for a customizable training schedule and format. Each day of the suggested four days of training content has over 200 PowerPoint slides, so each trainer will have the ability to customize their selection to emphasize what they feel is most important, while covering the scope of knowledge and expertise that is required for certification.

This process has taken the input from many dedicated individuals that contributed in the form of curriculum writing, research, reviewing/editing sections or giving feedback as a part of a focus group or pilot program. For all those who have contributed, many thanks.

It is the hope this will be an ongoing process and every few years others will be added to this group to update the training content with the latest research, so that training for Gambling Disorder can continue to improve with evidence-based findings.

Gambling Disorder Trainer Certification Training (GDTCT)
A Train-the-Trainer program for a 30-hour Gambling Disorder Curriculum

This training is approved by the International Gambling Counselor Certification Board (IGCCB) as meeting the training requirements of their new Certified Gambling Disorder Trainer (CGT) Credential.