Gabriela Byrne

Gabriela Byrne

PO Box 1271
Blackburn North Vic 3130

Tel: 0414 844 387

Website: www.freeyourself.com.au

Email Gabriela for more information: gabi.byrne@freeyourself.com.au

Speaking Fees are available upon request.

Speaking Topics

“My Hot Passionate Affair with the Poker Machines”

Gabriela Byrne was addicted poker machine gambling for more than four years.  Besides losing more than $40,000 gambling, she also lost many friends, 2 jobs and nearly ruined her marriage.  She even contemplated suicide as being the only way out.

After trying unsuccessfully during that time to break up her “hot, passionate love-affair” with the poker machines using conventional therapy methods, she started to develop her own methods.

She studied psychology, nutrition, exercise and meditation.  Gradually the Free Yourself Program (FYP) was born.  Gabriela continued to improve and to refine FYP over a period of several years and has now successfully counselled 100’s of people in the process.

The Free Yourself Program was officially launched in October 1997 by the Reverend Tim Costello (Spokesperson of the Interchurch Anti-Gaming Taskforce) and he described it as: “A fresh, positive approach in dealing with gambling addiction”.

In November 1997 Gabriela published the first edition of her very successful book outlining the unique Free Yourself Program strategies.  A revised edition was published in May 1999 and a third edition in 2000.  She has now sold over 10,000 copies.

On 20 March 2000 the Rev. Tim Costello launched the “Free Yourself Program”, a self-help guide consisting of an Audiotape and the Free Yourself Program book.  In 2001 she published two videos “My hot passionate affair with the Poker Machines” and “The Free Yourself Program -Strategies”.

In September 2001 she founded an organisation called Chrysalis Insight Inc. and opened the “Chrysalis Gallery”, a problem gambling resource centre adjacent to “The Chapel Restaurant” at Lilydale, near Melbourne.  Chrysalis Insight Inc. is a not-for-profit organisation that has been formed specifically to put “fun” back into people’s lives.  Its’ purpose is to provide a place where people can get back to enjoying a night out with a good meal and entertainment, without having to pay homage to the pagan electronic gaming God.  Her long-term goal is to provide people in all problem gambling areas with a recreational alternative, so that their legitimate desire to escape reality for a little while can be satisfied but not exploited.

Gabriela’s story from being “totally hooked” to “complete freedom”", the development of the Free Yourself Program, and her courageous attempt to fight the gaming industry with the ground-breaking “Chrysalis-Concept” has been published and talked about on National TV, Radio, “Women’s Weekly”, “New Idea”, “Good Medicine”, “For Me”, “Alive”, “She” and many other publications.  Her openness, warmth and excellent communications skills make her a sought after workshop leader and public speaker on gambling issues.

Free Yourself Program

A step by step guide to controlled, responsible gambling.  The “Free Yourself Program” is not a magical cure but it can be a life-changing tool for people who apply these strategies on a regular basis.  It represents a much needed “new model” of gambling addiction therapy where the main responsibility is given back to the person directly aff ected to work on changing their “attitude” and “behaviour”.  Once the behavioral pattern is broken, the void that people used to fill with gambling needs to be addressed and worked on with the help of qualified professionals.  This will make recovery complete.

Mental Training Module

Teaches awareness and control of the internal “war” that precedes the problem gambling behaviour; provides strategies to increase flexibility in “general change” and how to actively and passively train the “will-power muscle”, the “decision-making muscle”, etc.

A lot of these skills and techniques used in the program are based on “Neuro Linguistic Programming” (NLP) and Cognitive-Behavioural therapy.  They provide people with “shortcuts” to specified outcomes, like “stop gambling”.

The “Free Yourself Program” teaches how to use “outcome specific meditation” /quiet time and/or prayer to facilitate change at the subconscious level.

Physical Training Module

Teaches how changes in diet and exercise routines will support the controlled, responsible gaming behaviour.

Every behaviour produces a “cocktail” of different chemicals in the brain.  People experience a “high” due to a massive increase of “arousal chemicals”.  Over a period of time the initial “kick” is experienced as normal.  To experience a chemical “high” they have to increase activity or money spend, etc. and it becomes a deadly cycle.  The “Free Yourself Program” teaches how a healthier lifestyle will enable the body to detoxify and re-balance the brain chemistry.  When people feel better they are better equipped to work on their mental strategies to stop gambling.

Finding the Missing Piece in the Jigsaw

The “Free Yourself Program” teaches how to use “outcome specific meditation” /quiet time and/or prayer to facilitate change at the subconscious level and to identify the missing piece(s) of the puzzle.

The Third Place – Recreational alternative to Gaming Venues

The “Third Place” is a concept explored by sociologist Ray Oldenburg and is defined as the many public places where people can gather, temporarily throw off the weight of the world and put aside the concerns of home and work (their first and second places).  They are places where you can hang out simply for the pleasures of good company and lively conversation.

Funding from the Community Support Fund in 2004 enabled Chrysalis Insight Inc., in partnership with Swinburne University of Technology Lilydale, the Yarra Ranges Shire Council, Gamblers Help Eastern, Rivendell (EACH) and Know the Odds, to develop the “Third Place” project.

In the context of the “Third Place” project, the hypothesis that there is a need within local communities for “safe” informal social gathering places became a focus for project organisers.  The demise of the traditional pub/club and the assimilation of these “third places” by the gaming industry has dramatically limited the choices available for social activity within the established infrastructure ofthe local environment.  The Pokie Venue for many becomes the “Third Place” or the “Home away from Home” which, whilst entertainment for some, can lead to devastating consequences for many individuals, their families and the wider community.

The presentation will include a brief summary of the “Chapel Restaurant” venture (the first pilot recreational alternative to gaming venues) and the findings of the ‘Third Place’ project.  The significant results of these two projects lead Chrysalis Inc to propose steps to further develop and explore “The 3rd Place” concept.  With a view to reducing gambling’s negative social impact it aims to connect individuals, decrease social isolation and to re-build strong, healthy, vibrant and interactive communities.

The full “Third Place” project report is available on www.ld.swin.edu.au/crd.


Thank you very much for your presentations at our Devonport seminar “Problem Gambling and Finding a Safe ‘Third Place’”. The feedback we have received from participants has been very positive. You were able to tailor your presentation to the seminar topic really well. The presentation was very clear, and the content relevant to the audience, and very moving. The videos helped to engage the audience and bring to life the events described in the presentation. The session that evening with problem gamblers went really well, and I could see how important it was for them to hear your story, which you tell with such conviction, passion and humour. Thanks also for the presentation at the Rosebery community house. You are able to present in different environments, to a range of audience sizes and compilations. You are a great communicator Gabi, with deep knowledge of your topics, so thank you, we were lucky to have you!

Davenport “Launch of Responsible Gambling Week”  May 2010 Department of Human Services Tasmania

Just a brief note to say  how much I, and the members of the Croydon Rotary Club, enjoyed your chat with them, earlier tonight.      It is always most interesting to hear from those who, truly, have a “good news story”, to tell, and particularly when “adversity” has to be overcome – somewhere along the journey. Great Presenatation!

Keith Walter, speakers convener July 2010

Gabie a quick line to thank you so much for sharing  your story with our Heartbeat group.
Compelling  because of your direct and ruthless honesty and clear intelligence  .Your message is a very human one ; but you express it so clearly and without sentimentality , quite a feat.
We do appreciate  you giving us your time. I am sure that your work  and your words which we now  will all carry with us, can only make  positive changes in our world .
We wish you success in all you do  and our grateful thanks .
Warm regards, Annie Jones Director of SE Group of Heartbeat Epworth June 2010