Problem Gambling Services

[pros·per] to become strong and flourishing

It’s our goal for you.

Fenway Health’s Behavioral Health (BH) Department would like to share some updates about the way we are able to care for the important needs of our community. 

As noted in a recent Boston Globe article, there is a long wait for primary health care and health services throughout the state. This is the result of extremely high demand – fueled in no small part by the COVID-19 pandemic – coupled with a shortage of medical and behavioral health clinicians. 

Fenway Health has been significantly impacted by these constraints, with our Behavioral Health team currently facing a 50% shortage in staffed positions. This has led to a significant wait list for our services. 

Given these challenges, we have made the difficult decision to take steps to ensure resources are available to better meet the needs of our patients and more quickly move people off the Behavioral Health wait list into care.

  • We will be capping sessions for all Fenway BH patients at 12 visits. We understand that this may be shorter than many clients would prefer. However, research shows that short-term, strengths-based interventions can be equally or more effective than longer-term models. This cap will significantly reduce our waiting list, allowing more folks who are experiencing behavioral health crises to receive 3+ months of care. At the end of the 12 sessions, we will provide referrals and resources to help find a new provider. We encourage you to discuss this with your Fenway BH provider.
  • All BH patients 18 years or older need to also have a Primary Care Physician at Fenway. This has been our longstanding policy for most of our adult patients and will allow us to ensure that all clients have access to the most comprehensive care across their entire patient experience. It will also make for better communication between BH providers and medical teams for a smoother patient-centered care plan. This change brings Fenway in line with the standards for most community health centers.
  • Out-of-state patients can no longer access virtual appointments and will need to meet with their provider in person. This is due to state licensure laws. Fenway Health is not licensed to provide services outside of Massachusetts, and pandemic exceptions to these regulations have expired.

We understand that these changes may be upsetting for some patients. They are unfortunately necessary given our current staffing and resource challenges. We do believe that ultimately, these changes will allow us to provide services to many more people in our community who are in desperate need of behavioral health care. 

Thank you for your patience and understanding, and for allowing us to be your health care home. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. Please email Monique Willett or Frank Fleming at

Fenway Health’s Behavioral Health team operates under an Episodic Model of care. Episodic care refers to time limited treatment that encourages an individual to actively engage in therapy through dynamic movement. The focus of this movement through care is the building of skills and finding solutions. This works well for those with clear goals and high motivation.

The arc of treatment is made up of three phases:

  1. Beginning phase
  2. Middle phase
  3. Graduation phase

Beginning Phase

The beginning phase is focused on identifying clear goals of treatment. As such, treatment planning is essential because it helps the patient and provider focus care in a way that supports clear goals, movement, and resolution. In this phase, the provider works with the client to identify 1–3 areas of focus, noting that not all issues an individual comes to therapy with may be resolved within an episode.

The provider outlines structure and mapping around the treatment experience, which includes the setting of a graduation goal in order to optimize sessions and time between sessions. The provider may begin treatment planning with the client by asking clear questions about their goals for care.

Middle Phase

The middle phase focuses on learning and implementing skills through a strengths-based approach. This evidenced based approach builds on an individual’s unique strengths and knowledge that they bring with them as experts in their own lives.  As behavioral health providers, our responsibility is to support clients as they build skills, increase self-understanding, and conclude each episode of care with confidence in their ability to actively engage in living.

Graduation Phase

We actively support individuals to ready themselves for graduation by using active engagement in sessions and skills practice between sessions. We support and encourage our patients to increase their proficiency, confidence and test the sustainability of their efforts in order to create readiness to conclude their episode of care and return to their active living. We believe that doing intentional termination work is an essential part of therapy as often, individuals do not get to experience planned conclusions of relationships. At the time of graduation, folks are educated about their ability to return for a future episode of care if or when they need it.

Is gambling affecting yours or a loved one’s life? Have you ever gambled longer than you had planned or played until your very last dollar was gone?  Do you have feelings of remorse or sadness after gambling? Perhaps you’ve experienced strained relationships, financial hardship, or even career problems as a result of gambling.

These kinds of behaviors are often signs of a larger gambling problem, so if you relate to the above questions, it may be time to evaluate your risk. Additionally, people struggling with a gambling problem may borrow, steal or take loans to support their habit, and may also feel anxious or even suicidal at times. Such problems can arise from different types of gambling, including everything from buying a lottery or scratch ticket, to playing Bingo and betting on outcomes of sporting events.

 Whether you are thinking about making a change, finding a path to recovery, or simply looking to get information, Fenway Health’s Problem Gambling Specialists can help you to:

  • Understand your own gambling behaviors;
  • Figure out where you may benefit from change;
  • Deal with the actual process of change;
  • Provide ongoing support to you and/or loved ones every step of the way.

No matter where you are in your journey, our goal is to help you prosper along the path to recovery.  

*Note: Fenway serves all individuals and families regardless of ability to pay. We provide free care and discounted charges on a sliding scale depending on family size and income, and to persons with significant medical expenses.

According to a key report by UMass, it is currently estimated that across the state of Mass:

  • Between 67,500 and 109,100 adults can be classified as problem gamblers.
  • An additional 353,400 to 426,200 adults can be classified as at-risk gamblers.

People who have a problem with gambling may often feel:

  • A need to bet more money more frequently
  • Irritated when they try to stop
  • A desire to “chase” their losses to recover money.

Such behaviors can lead to more gambling, despite financial loss and the trust of friends and loved ones. Often those with a gambling problem spend a large portion of their income on problem gambling.

Problem gambling is often accompanied by substance use. People who gamble can often experience intense excitement, power and hopeful anticipation as a result of gambling. For some, a dependency on the “action” of gambling occurs in a similar way to dependency on the effects of alcohol or other drugs.

Fenway’s acupuncture services can assist patients seeking addiction & behavioral health services. Stimulation of specific acupuncture points can activate the central nervous system, which, in turn, releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain.

These chemicals can help to alter the experience of pain and influence the body’s self-regulating systems. These biochemical changes may stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being. As such, acupuncture has been shown to be effective in treating cravings, mood disorders, anxiety, insomnia and depression.

Your health is important. Being open with your health care provider about your life is important for staying healthy. This includes letting your provider know if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ), or have questions about your sexual orientation or gender identity. If you talk to your provider about being LGBTQ, your provider can:

  • Pay closer attention to health issues that affect the LGBT community.
  • Learn to use the terms, names, pronouns, and other words you prefer.
  • Refer you to other providers and specialists who are welcoming to LGBTQ populations.
  • Better involve you in decisions about your health.
  • Help connect you with support for you or your family, especially if you are having problems.

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7th Floor 1340 Boylston Street Boston, MA 02215


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Sidney Borum, Jr. Health Center

4th Floor 142 Berkeley Street Boston, MA 02116


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