Pitt School of Social Work Recognized For Its Work in Helping Problem Gamblers

Issue Date: 
March 14, 2011

The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work was recognized for its support of the education and treatment of problem gamblers and for its research on gambling addiction with a Special Recognition Award from the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania (CCGP), a nonprofit affiliate of the National Council on Problem Gambling. The March 8 award ceremony was held as part of a by-invitation-only luncheon at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association, 4215 Fifth Ave., Oakland, and occurrred during National Problem Gambling Awareness Week, March 6-11.

Rafael Engel, a professor of social work at Pitt, will accept the award from James Pappas, executive director of CCGP.

Pitt’s School of Social Work, under the leadership of Dean Larry E. Davis, has been at the forefront of training counselors specifically in the area of gambling addiction. In February 2008, it launched a unique 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 schools of social work 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 also 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. Engel, Pitt professor of social work Daniel Rosen, and school director of continuing education Tracy Soska authored the report.