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PGIO Newsletter | Fall 2017

Feature Article:
Moving Beyond the Basics of CBT: An Interview with Dr. Natalie Vilhena-Churchill

man using multiple devices

In anticipation of our cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) specialized training set to take place on November 2-3 and again on November 23-24, we are excited to share with you our interview with Dr. Natalie Vilhena-Churchill–an expert in CBT who co-led the development of the upcoming specialized training!

What can attendees look forward to during the CBT specialized training?

We have designed an interactive approach to CBT micro-skills targeting anxious and depressive symptoms among people with problem gambling/gaming. We are hoping to have attendees moving and participating and applying the skills throughout the training. Participants will come away with concrete approaches to working with clients presenting with a variety of concerns.

Although CBT has been around for many years, what new trends are emerging in CBT treatment?

This is a challenging question. I would say from my own experience that CBT is certainly moving towards greater emphasis on client collaboration, and research is moving towards working with clients with multiple concerns (as opposed to research that focused on individuals with one diagnosis). We've also seen a recent shift to online platforms for CBT including new apps and online delivery of CBT by trained professionals.

What can CBT offer to clients with problem gambling that other modalities do not or cannot?

CBT can offer concrete skills to understand many aspects of what might be driving gambling behaviour. CBT helps a person identify the thoughts and behaviours that may in turn lead to gambling and works with individuals to address these in a balanced way. CBT also helps individuals become their own therapist by imparting various tools and skills that clients can take, apply to their own lives and move forward.

What advice would you give to problem gambling professionals wishing to incorporate CBT in their clinical practices?

If you're not comfortable with the skills at first, try using CBT with one or two of your clients, find another clinician who is proficient in CBT and consult with them. One of the best ways to learn is to do (but of course recognize when you hit your limits and consult consult consult!)

What drew you to work in the fields of addiction and CBT? What drew you to focus on the mental health of university students and young adults?

I've been interested in the study of addiction for as long as I can remember. Seeing the negative impact that various forms of addiction can have on individuals and families drew me towards research and practice in this area. When I entered university as an undergraduate student and lived in residence, it seemed like risky addictive behaviours were rampant. Entering university is such a huge transition point for many individuals and leaving home allows for a lot of freedom - probably more than many of these students had experienced before. I wanted to better understand what was driving risky addictive behaviours and help students ultimately make choices that would work for them over the long-term. CBT in particular gave me a lens to work through these concerns with students, to help understand the interrelationship of the thoughts, behaviours, moods and physical reactions within their current situation and work towards making changes when necessary.


Please provide us with a snapshot of your current research.

My research has been primarily focused on the motivational mechanisms underlying addictive behaviours in particular among young adults. Most recently, my work has focused on the relationship between personal goals and alcohol use during the transition to the first year of university.

Dr. Vilhena-Churchill received her PhD in Clinical and Counselling Psychology from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. She is currently working as a Psychologist at CBT Associates, where she provides CBT assessments and treatments for adults with severe mental illnesses.

PGIO selected Dr. Vilhena-Churchill to co-lead the development of the CBT specialized training because of her extensive research and clinical background in addictive behaviours, such as gambling, as well as her expertise in CBT. The training is set to take place November 2-3, 2017 and November 23-24, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario. Please contact us at to be added to a waiting list for a future training date. 


You asked—we listened! Welcome to, your new homepage for best practices and professional development in problem gambling and technology use treatment.

We have improved navigation, added and updated content, and we’re committed to listening to your feedback as we continuously improve this website.

What's new?

We now have evidence-informed practice topics, which provide professionals with “key concepts”, “research snapshots” and tips for “putting it into practice” with tools and resources. Every topic has been peer reviewed by treatment professionals, and we have strived to make it clinically applicable and relevant.

We have also made it easier to access training/webinars and infographics that you can easily embed into your presentations. The new website also has much more video content.

We are also introducing a new blog with contributions from experts like you from across Canada and around the world, which will cover important emerging topics and best practices in problem gambling and technology use prevention and treatment.

Your renewed registration will also allow you to access our Self-help Tools for individuals and families concerned about their own or someone else’s gambling. Read on to learn how to register for this website!

Registration for Professionals

You will need to create a new account on Learn.ProblemG​​ If you are part of the designated Ontario problem gambling treatment system, registering on allows you to access our courses, webinars and content archive.

If you have already used your email address to create a profile on our Self-Help Tools website (MYGU, online worksheets, etc.), you will need to email with the following information:

  1. First Name
  2. Last Name
  3. Nickname / Display name (Will appear on community forum and blog comments)
  4. Company
  5. Job Title
  6. Phone
  7. Email
  8. Are you part of the designated Ontario problem gambling treatment system? Yes or No

If you haven’t already used your email address to create a profile on our Self-Help Tools website (MYGU, online worksheets, etc.), please proceed with creating your new account.

Click here to register.

We fully encourage and welcome your feedback.


Save the date for the Ontario Problem Gambling Provincial Forum

The 2018 Ontario Problem Gambling Provincial Forum will be held on June 18th & 19th in Ottawa​. 

Specialized training 2018: Hypersexuality

We recently invited therapists working in the Ontario problem gambling treatment system to respond to a survey to help us prepare for our next specialized training on hypersexualtity.  Thank you to the 35 people who completed the survey.  The winner of the draw for the $50 Amazon gift card is Alexandre Campbell who is an addiction counsellor at the Addiction and Mental Health program at Hawkesbury and District General Hospital.

Announcement from Gambling Research Exchange Ontario (GREO)

Gambling Research Exchange Ontario (GREO) announces​ three exciting funding opportunities: two for academics (see and one for community organizations (see Submissions are due November 16th, 2017 but an Intent to Apply submission may also be required (see grant schedules for more information).​

​Research U​​​pdates​​Research


Upcoming Courses & WebinarsUpcoming Courses and Webinars

In-Person Training



T​echniques for Shifting Unhealthy Tech Use towards Healthier Activities
Dr. Bruce Ballon, Associate Professor at the University of Toronto and Psychiatrist at CAMH

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