Lawrence Tan kok Kah

Lawrence Tan kok Kah

Institute of Mental Health Singapore

Title: Capturing the moment: Single Session Therapy for Gambling disorder


Lawrence Tan kok Kah MA, CGAC, SCAC, CSC, Registered Psychologist (SPS), Approved Clinical Supervisor (SPS) is a Senior Psychologist with the National Addictions Management Service (NAMS). Having worked with the department for the past 11 years, Lawrence manages patients with both substance (drugs and alcohol) and process/ behavioural (gambling, cyber-gaming, compulsive sexual behaviours) addictions. As a head of gambling treatment services and key member of the treatment evaluation work group, Lawrence plays a critical role in the organization’s treatment and research initiatives, and tracking of outcomes of interventions. Lawrence regularly conducts both public education talks and training for professionals on managing addictive behaviours. In 2009, He was awarded a Health Manpower Development Program scholarship for a two-month attachment at the Problem Gambling Services, State of Connecticut, Department of Mental Health, US, where he further enhanced his clinical expertise in gambling disorders. He was also awarded the NHG Teaching Award for Non-Physicians in 2012. He has also been in the consulting team with NAMS when the Tokyo Metropolitan government visited Singapore for a discussion on best practices in gambling treatment and social safeguards. In 2013 and 2016, he was invited to APBAM (Asia Pacific Behavioural and Addiction Medicine) conference to speak about gambling related psychosocial treatment. 


The aim of the above workshop is to help create a better understanding of Single Session Therapy (SST), a type of brief intervention that has been used widely to work with a range of different psychological disorders. In the realm of addictions (especially for people struggling with a gambling disorder) where the default rate of help-seekers is known to be high, SST has a special role in assessing motivation, planting seeds of change and getting help-seekers to think about utilizing resources available for them. It is also about “seizing the moment” where therapists work with the understanding that the very first contact with the help-seeker could very well be the one and only contact they would have.

In this workshop, we would attempt to give participants a brief overview by looking at the efficacy of brief interventions for gambling disorder and going through the key components of SST (which includes brief advice & assessment, paradoxical interventions, motivational enhancement therapy, solution focused brief therapy, cognitive behavioural approaches, narrative therapy and the use of metaphors and analogies). We would also attempt to give participants a sense of what goes on in a typical SST session (which includes the types of questions to ask to gather important information, ways to make these questions therapeutic in the process of gathering information, linking the information gathered to interventions and suggestions and making a closure). These mentioned sub-components of the workshop will be further enhanced by the use of video clips and real life clinical examples encountered in the process of administering SST.