Las Vegas has a high rate of problem gambling but a low number of counselors trained to deal with it -- a problem UNLV is tackling one person at a time.
The UNLV Problem Gambling Treatment Program provides one-on-one counseling to clients while training graduate students to fill the critical need for practicing specialists. UNLV's counselor education program is one of the few that specifically addresses this addiction.
Lindsey Harrison, recipient of the Harrah's Graduate Assistantship in Problem Gambling, sees clients in the program. Even in a recession, the Las Vegas native says, the clients for problem gambling are increasing. Her clients refer themselves and are attracted by the individual sessions because many are uncomfortable with group therapy sessions.
Harrison says that with the assistantship, which includes funding for tuition in addition to the experience, she was able to give up her part-time jobs and focus on school and the work related to her career.
"I'm happy that I have this graduate assistantship because I have more experience seeing clients face to face, which has helped me tremendously," says Harrison. "I've gotten more experience and more hands-on work."
Harrison, who holds a bachelor's degree in counseling from UNLV, will receive her master's degree in mental health and addictions this May. She plans to work in outpatient crisis counseling, with a focus on gambling addictions. "As soon as I graduate, I want to help and be a mentor for other people who want to become gambling counselors in the field."