Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Web Secret 493: Ripl

Ripl is an amazing free app which everyone who has a private practice, small business, blog, etc. should immediately download.

The app allows you to easily create a snappy, attractive, and totally professional looking video in a matter of minutes and post it on social media.

To demo it, I created a video about James Dean - the family cat - and posted it to Facebook.

Now that I know how to do it - I could probably create another video in seconds.

Full disclosure: in part I did this to show off JD (as he is known in our family.)

But really - the app is awesome.

PS If you are feeling more ambitious, you can create animated videos using

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Web Secret 492: Top Apps for Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Promotion

I watched Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas give a stirring presentation"Shining Lights of Hope: EAPs, Leadership and the Social Movement of Suicide Prevention" at the 2016 World EAP Conference. So I paid attention when she published a blog post "15 Top Apps for Resilience, Mental Health Promotion & Suicide Prevention."

In her introduction to the post, she writes: "When we consider a comprehensive strategy to suicide prevention and mental health promotion, it’s helpful to segment approaches into 'upstream' (preventing problems before they emerge through self-help), 'midstream' (catching emerging problems early and linking people to least restrictive support), and 'downstream' (helping people with more serious mental health challenges and suicidal thoughts) tactics.

Thus, for this article, I have organized some of the most popular, best researched and most innovative apps into these three categories."

She lists a number of apps that I have previously posted about - but here are some new ones for you to consider:

Upstream: Resilience Self-Help Apps

Positive Activity Jackpot Developed by t2health, this app uses the phone’s GPS system to find nearby enjoyable distractions. It comes with a clinician’s guide.

Pacifica Pacifica is designed to help people who live with anxiety through soothing meditation and other personalized self-help strategies. Check out the science behind this strategy.

Midstream: Early Detection and Peer Support/Life Coach Apps

DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach Through this app, users can master the skills of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), known for its effectiveness in regulating emotions and interpersonal relationships. Users remind themselves of skills they are trying to develop and track skill use.

Downstream: On-Line Mental Health Services and Suicide Prevention Apps

Koko Developed by researchers at MIT, this app provides help for people in all states of distress from bullying and harassment to suicide and self-harm. Koko provides evidence-based supportive interactions with users while referring users in crisis to international lifelines for immediate help.

Virtual Hope Box The original non-app version of the Hope Box was developed as a tool to help therapists in clinical practice work with their suicidal clients find reasons for living. Clients would find something like a shoe box and fill it with future goals, pictures of loved ones, bucket list experiences, and the like. When they felt their suicidal intensity increase, they would bring out the box to remind themselves of these things.

The Virtual Hope Box (VHB) does this and more. Still designed as something to augment treatment, the VHB helps people live through painful emotional experiences through distraction, inspiration, relaxation, coping, support and reasons for living.

SAMHSA – Suicide Safe This app is designed to help healthcare providers reduce patient suicide risk and is based on the SAFE-T Approach.

Thank you, Sally.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Web Secret 491: 13 Things I Found on the Internet Today

I came across 13 Things I Found on the Internet Today (vol. CCLIII).

As someone who has been blogging weekly since 2008 without EVER missing a week, I admire consistency. So 253 posts about fascinating esoterica? Hats off to you, Nessy.

If you go to the landing page, you will note that the aforementioned Nessy also writes about other topics.

"Don't Be a Tourist" is a travelogue of off the beaten path places.

"Art and Design Awesomness"... Well, Nessy, you had me at Pachinko.

Bottom line, you could happily spend hours wandering around this website.

But back to 13 things (Vol. CCLIII). Nessy is a Brit living in Paris so a lot of her finds skew towards Europeana. And what finds they are:
  • Pripyat: Before & After
  • The Forgotten Gravetunnels of Brussels
  • Bizarre Victorian Erotica - with Skeletons
  • A Medieval Medicine Chest
  • Early science-fiction illustrations for Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon
  • Before the FBI, there was the Pinkerton Detective Agency, which had more employees than soldiers in the US Army.
It's all quite delightful, a little strange, sometimes a wee bit morbid.

And utterly fascinating.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Web Secret 490: Self-Archeology

I am fascinated by professionals who have successfully taken an out of the box approach to marketing their therapy, coaching or counseling services.

These geniuses are hard to find and few in number. Since I started this blog in 2008 - I have come across less than a handful of these individuals.

Here is a quick recap:

January 27, 2010 - Web Secret 86: Where The Client Is

February 20, 2013 - Web Secret 246: What's Your Grief

February 27, 2013 - Web Secret 247: A daring adventure

August 21, 2013 - Web Secret 272: Notes from the job search

I have no idea why 2013 was such a banner year for these innovators. And with the passage of time, there have been changes - "Where the Client Is" is defunct - though you can still visit the site and learn from it. "A daring adventure" has been updated and is no longer as great. Steve Paul of "Notes from the Job Search" sadly passed away in February 2017. But the posts I wrote remain relevant.

So after a 4 year dry spell you can only imagine how excited I was to find Self-Archeology.

As always - they grab me with their website titles. Who wants to be in therapy - if you could instead be on "A daring adventure"? Who wants to be coached, if instead you can be in the pursuit of "Self-Archeology"?

Darius Cikanavicius of "Self-Archeology" writes, "Everyone knows themselves at least to some level, but... not many people have a really close relationship with themselves...However, in each of us there is a treasure – our true self ...our buried emotions, dreams, goals, spontaneity, enthusiasm, empathy, happiness, love, and other virtues.

In order for us to find all of those treasures, we have to search, dig, and excavate. After finding them we have to carefully brush, clean and polish them. And then we can delight in the benefit and joy that they provide us, exhibit them to the world, and present them to others as a gift. I've called this process...self-archeology.

I love that! It is such a powerful and positive reframing of the psychotherapeutic process.

There is much to learn from "Self-Archeology" and I urge you to explore every corner of this website, especially if you are about to create your first professional website or launch a marketing campaign for your services.

Much to learn you still have...

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Web Secret 489: 5 online counseling platforms

Thank you Valerie Kuykendall-Rogers, MA, LPC-S, CEO of Apex LLC for writing an exhaustive review of online counseling platforms in a recent blog post.

Valerie advises clinicians to evaluate 5 key factors when making a decision about which to use:

1. Security/HIPAA Compliance
2. Price
3. Accessibility
4. Scheduling
5. Payment Options

Here is my edited version of her recommendations:

Breakthrough has an app for clinicians to use to schedule, check messages, and for clients to search for counselors. They will verify insurance benefits when clients sign up and verify payment. They will even file the insurance for you and pay you the contracted rate. Breakthrough allows you to send secure messages to clients, upload documents to them, and notify you when a client has completed pre-session assessments and is online and ready for the counseling session to begin. Breakthrough also has pre-assessments that can be given to clients prior to each session, specific paperwork/informed consents specific to online counseling, and a form to use to document your session. They charge $6.00 per usage and are HIPAA compliant. They provide great IT support.

Clocktree is a HIPAA compliant online platform that does not require you to download any additional software. They have an app that you can download on any type of mobile device to conduct online services using phone, tablet, or computer. They provide scheduling and send you reminders via email and text the day before, as well as intermittent reminders the day of a session via text and email. You are able to send and receive secure messages. You can also schedule up to 10 hours of video per month, free of charge. There is no membership cost for clients to use Clocktree.

BetterHelp - is an online, HIPAA compliant platform that doesn't require any additional downloads. They provide a free trial service and a mobile app. They provide secure and encrypted messaging between you and the client. However they do not accept insurance. Clients are charged a membership fee. They have a scheduling platform, however, it is unclear if they give you the capability to document or write notes following sessions.

I-Couch is an online therapy platform much like Clocktree, except they charge a monthly fee of $40. However, this money go far. It provides you with features such as a website, invoicing/credit card payments, a forms library, and the ability to conduct groups. It also provides other common features such as secure messaging, online client portal with scheduling, and secure, HIPAA compliant video. This platform doesn't require any additional downloads and can be used on just about any browser, however, they do not have a mobile app. They provide a 14 day free trial.

Thera-Link - is a great HIPAA compliant, secure, online counseling platform, however, it is costly. $30 a month allows you to conduct a max of 5 session. Unlimited starts out at $45/month. It is unique in providing a virtual waiting room! You create an avatar, select music, and voila, instant online waiting room! It's a robust online platform service that provides options for group counseling, scheduling, email notifications, secure messaging, ability to use on phone/tablet as well as computer, a mobile app, and the ability to accept payments of your choosing.

As always, I urge anyone interested in providing video counseling to become a Certified Cyber Therapist through the Online Therapy Institute.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Web Secret 488:

Are you looking for a job?

I remember looking for my first job about 300 years ago.

It involved looking at the New York Times "help wanted" section. Circling the jobs I was interested with a highlighter, then cutting them out with a scissors and pasting them in a notebook so I could remember which ones I had applied to.

Then typing a cover letter and a resume and mailing it out. In an envelope. With a stamp.

Then waiting for a phone call.

If you were lucky, you had an answering machine - a clunky device with a cassette tape.

Enough reminiscing.

It's 2017 and you have glassdoor.

In 2008, Glassdoor launched itself as a site that “collects company reviews and real salaries from employees of large companies and displays them anonymously for all members to see.”

If you weren't in the job market, it was fun to read the disgruntled eviscerating an assortment of Fortune 500 corporations.

If you were job hunting, it was useful to get a sense of these big companies.

That was then.

Today, Glassdoor has evolved into one stop shopping for employment seekers - it not only provides reviews, but salary information, interview tip, and a job board.

Good luck!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Web Secret 487: context

As I write this post, New York City pauses to observe a moment of silence in remembrance of 9/11.

16 years have passed.

I struggle to remember what the world was like in 2001.

What the Internet was like.

I come across a fascinating article "What Online Internet Websites Looked Like in 2001" which helps me remember that:

In 2001, the majority of Americans didn't have the Internet.

Most people got online using dial up connections.

Only 7% of Internet users worldwide had broadband.

Most things purchased online were paid for by money order...

If you got any news on the phone, it was probably because you were using it to talk to someone. Assuming you had a cell phone - only 45% of Americans had one.

No social media. No instant, updated every second, news.

No context.

Context: the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.

Easier, because you were only aware of what was right in front of you.

In 2001, you probably lived your life not that differently than you had 16 years earlier, in 1985.

Here, in 2017, everything has changed and my life is nothing like it was in 2001.

I telecommute - made possible by a laptop and high speed connectivity.

I shop online - rarely in a store.

I read books on my iPad.

I almost never use snail mail.

And unless I turn off every device I own - a rare event during my waking hours - it feels like I am connected to the world.

So while I listen to the 9/11 ceremony on my TV, videos of hurricane Irma stream across my screen.

News from Europe is texted to me by a friend in Switzerland.

Somewhere there are disasters, destruction and death on a large scale.

Here the sun is shining and it's New York Fashion Week. I can stream it if I want.

I wonder how it is possible to live a moral life in 2017.

If I know everything...

...Shouldn't I be on the barricades somewhere, saving someone?