The mental health field is technophobic and it needs to stop.

I have seen discussions about technology use for mental health counselors, but it’s nearly always about the numerous risks of technology. What about the benefits? We’re told to be careful about any information we post online, and told a “solution” is to entirely avoid using the Internet as part of our practices. The following article in Counseling Today recommends “going offline” for referrals to avoid any chance of a client’s being identified. http://ct.counseling.org/2017/11/technology-tutor-revisiting-ethics-discussing-clients-online/#comment-810322 I understand there is concern about privacy on public online forums. Though the example referral request was merely “Looking for referral for 30-something male dealing with depression. Needs counselor in network with ABC Insurance.” Clearly not over the line in disclosing information. The discussion of this example was followed up with “what if” after “what if.” What if advertising companies somehow connect the client to the counselor? What if someone screenshots the information and can make the connection?

These “what ifs” are not helpful. They’re fearmongering. Why don’t we learn how to use technology to help clients best instead of avoiding it? If I worked with a client who said there’s something they’d like to do and it would make their life way easier but they won’t do it because of a huge list of “what ifs”, I would sense an anxiety problem! And you know what I’d tell them? “Look into your options. Do your research and be careful. We can’t always see every possibility, but avoiding making the decision isn’t a solution.”

Avoidance of technology is not a solution. Education about technology is.

If we worry about the privacy of online forums, we can spearhead private secure forums for counselors to use. Don’t just complain. Make a change. That’s what we expect of clients, so it’s irresponsible to expect otherwise of ourselves.

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Psychology podcasts!

I’ve gotten into podcasts. I even narrate one, White-Noise, an audio drama about ghosts in Gettysburg. You can find a podcast for almost any interest! Here are some related to psychology I’ve listened to.

Unpopular Culture
http://upcpodcast.com/

We are not bystanders in today’s culture, and we’re willing to bet: Neither are you. Unpopular Culture is a podcast where a psychotherapist and a team of dedicated professionals, dive into the broken underbelly of today’s society— discovering the weird and the weirdly common. New shows full of case studies, psychological breakdowns and conspiracy theories are released every Tuesday morning wherever you get your podcasts!

The Bright Sessions
http://www.thebrightsessions.com/

This one is a fictional audio drama about a therapist of people with superpowers. It’s very well done and avoids common fiction therapy cliches.

Shrink Rap Radio

http://shrinkrapradio.com/

Long-running show featuring interviews with a wide variety of psychology field personalities with “Dr. Dave.”
“Dr. Dave” is also known as David Van Nuys, Ph.D. He is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Sonoma State University and served as that department’s Chair for seven years.

Geek Therapy

http://www.geektherapy.com/podcast

Covers many ways to use geek culture in therapeutic ways!

Invisibilia, an NPR podcast

http://www.npr.org/programs/invisibilia/

Invisibilia is Latin for “the invisible things.” We explore the invisible forces that shape human behavior — things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions.

Podcast series by the American Counseling Association

http://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/podcasts

The ACA has an official podcast series! You can even listen as part of continuing education credits if you’re in the mental health field. Don’t fret about the price tag if you’re not looking into CE credits though. It’s free to listen!

Therapeutic Interior Design?

I’ve said it half as a joke a few times lately, but let’s face it: Waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and therapy offices tend to be far from cheerful places. I think it could help in some way if these spaces were designed to put people more at ease. I’ve heard of some long-term care facilities undergoing redesign to look more homelike instead of sterile, and I think this is a very positive step. I’d certainly not be my most cheerful self if what amounted to my home didn’t look like one!

I wouldn’t ask for the advice of actual interior designers. I at least wouldn’t give one complete free rein. If you ask me, they tend to design spaces that would look nice on a magazine cover but I wouldn’t want to live in at all! I don’t want to live in a magazine cover. I want to be comfortable. I want comfortable chairs. Cheerful decor that isn’t in-your-face cheerful like a kid’s playroom (unless it actually is in a kid’s playroom) but also doesn’t feel “too fancy” to me, like something that would be at a grandparent’s house and I wouldn’t be allowed to touch it.

The entire environment of a mental health client is important to consider, especially if they’re staying somewhere for long-term care and the place is essentially their home for that time. I want people to feel comfortable. I wouldn’t want to live somewhere where I’m not. I know many facilities unfortunately suffer from a lack of funding, and interior design is far from the top of the list of priorities if there isn’t much money to go around. But I think it’s something to consider.

Living with Anxiety (article in Counseling Today)

https://ct.counseling.org/2017/05/living-with-anxiety/

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 18 percent of the adult population, or more than 40 million people, according to the National Institutes of Health. Among adolescents the prevalence is even higher: 25 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 live with some type of anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are often coupled with sleeplessness, depression, panic attacks, racing thoughts, headaches or other physical issues. Anxiety can run in families and be a lifelong challenge that spills over into all facets of life, from relationships and parenting to the workplace.

The good news is that anxiety disorders are manageable, and counselors have a plethora of tools to help clients lessen the impact of anxiety…

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Why this blog exists

I think the biggest thing about mental health counseling and why it works is all of us have a story we want listened to without judgement, and we so seldom get that from anyone. There are different therapeutic theories and techniques. But that human element, that true empathic listening, is the core. So many of us feel lonely and judged and disconnected and lack reminders of our worth. I’ve definitely been there myself at times. That’s why I have a mental health counseling degree. And many people think counseling isn’t for them, and/or have misconceptions about what it is. That’s why I have this blog.

Gaming for Good: Therapeutic Uses of Video Games

As both a mental health professional and a gamer, I’m pleased to share this academic paper I wrote for a graduate course in child mental health counseling during my studies at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. I’m Angela Cook now but it was written under my maiden name at the time.

I did a lot of research for this paper and I’ve been highly influenced by the very positive psychological material about gaming I was able to find.

The mental health field has been far too negative about gaming for far too long. It’s time to, shall we say…change the game.

 

DePeau final paper

 

Want to learn about mental health (or practically any other subject) for free?

Khan Academy 

Khan Academy is an amazing, free educational resource! I’ve become way better at math with its math lessons. I wish I’d had it when I was a kid! Check out their mental health section under Health and Medicine or one of their myriad of other subjects. You have to sign up for an account, but it’s completely free. If you’re a parent or teacher, there’s an option to set up accounts for children and track their progress.

As the site’s motto says: You can learn anything!

 

Mental Health Resources

I will  keep editing this list!

American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org

APA’s Highlights in Psychological Research page: http://www.apa.org/pubs/highlights/index.aspx

PsychInfo database: http://www.apa.org/pubs/databases/psycinfo/index.aspx

National Alliance on Mental Illness: https://www.nami.org/

National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: https://www.aacap.org/

American Counseling Association: https://www.counseling.org/

REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy) Network: http://www.rebtnetwork.org/

PsychCentral: https://psychcentral.com/

Shrink Rap Radio Psychology Podcast: http://shrinkrapradio.com/

Autistic Self Advocacy Network: http://autisticadvocacy.org/