Many clients say they have phoned several times and always hung up before they spoke to a counsellor. Live chat may be the difference between someone asking for help now or putting it off until things are even worse, because live chat avoids saying aloud what they are feeling so ashamed of.”
Denise Giles, Duty Counsellor, PGF Services
During lockdown, delivering counselling services for people impacted by gambling harm had to move quickly from face-to-face sessions in a counselling room, to remote support via phone, email or video call.
That’s when PGF Services decided it would be a good idea to offer support through a live chat service as well, particularly when so many people were spending more time online than ever before.
Thanks to a tech-savvy expert on live chat, it was up and running in no time on a secure platform that did everything the team needed it to do (except make coffee!).
Bridgitte Thornley, National Director PGF Services, says they started online chat because they wanted to make it as easy as possible for people affected by gambling harm to get support.
“We know many people look online for tips and strategies to reduce their gambling harm or work out ways to help family members. They may not want a counselling appointment but helping them via live chat becomes another option to talk with them, offer strategies and resources to help them with their immediate needs,” she says.
Denise Giles, Duty Counsellor at PGF Services agrees and says live chat makes asking for support easier.
“Live chat allows gamblers and others impacted by someone else’s gambling to take an anonymous first step,” she says.
Most people affected by gambling harm don’t ever seek help for it, and family affected by another person’s gambling are even less likely. It can remain hidden from family and others for many years with devastating results. By the time someone does reach out to a service for help, they can have thousands in debt, loss of a house, family breakdown or have lost their job through their gambling.
Is live chat the best way for me to get support?
Live chat may not suit everybody, but it does have some distinct advantages.
- You can talk to a trained professional and remain anonymous, so it removes some of the stigma.
- Specific advice can be tailored to your individual needs in your own home without having to sign up for counselling.
- You can ask questions without feeling you have to say who you are until you feel safe to do so.
- You can take this first step without fear of being identified.
Bridgitte says the best aspect of live chat is being able to offer immediate and practical support.
“As soon as someone reaches out for help, we are there and can immediately engage and offer support to someone who needs it,” she says.
As with most things, there are a few drawbacks to live chat as compared to other ways of getting support. The nature of the conversations, being either medium or short in length, may mean the engagement with someone doesn’t go into deeper reasons why the gambling harm began or all the complexity around the impacts, drivers or triggers to gamble.
Live Chat is also not suitable to address risk to self-harm or harm of others. This is better supported via phone or face to face support.
So how does it work?
PGF Services live chat connects you directly to a trained, professional counsellor using our secure platform. It’s available from 8.30am until 5.00pm Monday to Friday and is a free service.
You can talk to us about:
- what’s going on for you right now
- someone else’s gambling
- what help is available
- building coping skills
- changing or booking an appointment.
Research tells us that people experiencing gambling harm will try many different ways to seek support, including online forums, live chat, text, phone, email or face to face counselling.
Whichever way you choose to get support, we can help you, so don’t struggle alone. If you are concerned about your own, or someone else’s gambling, please get in touch. You can also register yourself here or for people concerned about someone else, you can register here.