Therapy, Coaching & Distant Healing via Technology

We offer articles from TILT Magazine and information related to online therapy, online coaching, online complementary and alternative modalities and cyberpsychology.

“Tech Support”- Using Technology to Support Ongoing Recovery

November 20th, 2014   •   no comments   

mullensMost clinicians have experienced the vibration or ring of a cell phone during session. Depending upon whether we are “digital immigrants”, “digital natives” or those who would like to seek “digital asylum” our responses might be very different (Prensky, 2001). Many clients are technologically connected in ways that counselors may not have traditionally experienced in the clinical setting. Most addiction counselors pride themselves on “meeting clients where they are,” yet many find it difficult to embrace our client’s connectedness or attachment to their devices. Untangling the mystery and fear of technology for “digital immigrants” doesn’t have to be scary; the clinician need only be willing and open to working within the digital culture using websites and smartphone applications to enhance recovery.

First Choice Services Inc. and its sister corporation First Choice Health Systems Inc. have embraced technology for many years using the original modality of providing telehealth – the telephone. Its two phone-based programs, the West Virginia Prescription Drug Abuse Solutions program and Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia (PGHNWV) program, provide information and referral services across West Virginia, with PGHNWV having provided therapeutic interventions for more than 11,000 problem gamblers and their loved ones since 2000. Additionally, both programs provide a “Chat” option on their websites to engage those who are seeking help and who are more comfortable utilizing computers or mobile devices.

In 2012, First Choice Services, Inc. was awarded a Technology Assisted Care (TAC) grant from SAMHSA to further incorporate technology into treatment services in West Virginia, and as a result developed the Appalachian Technology Assisted Recovery Innovations (ATARI) program. The ATARI program’s objectives include: introducing technology into treatment and recovery support programs in West Virginia; maintaining and increasing client engagement; preventing relapse and developing community partnerships. To help achieve its objectives, ATARI contracted with the University of Wisconsin to utilize the A-CHESS (Addiction-Center for Health Enhancement System Studies) smartphone application, which has been nationally recognized and showcased in the Journal of American Medical Association Psychiatry, TIME magazine, WebMD and Yahoo News.

A-CHESS is comprised of many features to help those in recovery and is currently being vetted as an evidence-based practice. A-CHESS is theoretically based in Self Determination Theory (SDT), which focuses on how social and cultural factors facilitate or undermine people’s sense of volition and initiative, in addition to their well-being and the quality of their performance (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Conditions supporting the individual’s experience of autonomy, competence and relatedness are argued to be the most volitional and therefore, high quality forms of motivation and engagement (Deci & Ryan, 1985).

When clients receive the A-CHESS app, they are encouraged to create a “profile” similar to the profile feature of Facebook. The profile allows clients to share common interests that they might not know about one another. The additional features of the app allow the client to connect to recovering peers and their clinicians through the team feed, support team, messaging, and discussion boards. The messaging function is used as a private email which allows clients to contact each other, their recovery coach, and/or their counselor. The discussion board is used to engage clients in ongoing discussions about recovery topics which can be started by clients or the coach/therapist. Clients have access to recovery podcasts, recovery news, events, and recovery information which help keep them in touch with more self-directed resources.

One of the most innovative features of the app is the “panic button” which allows the client to make contact with one person or many people if they are in a risky situation or at risk of relapsing. At the touch of a button the client can choose to call or text their support team, email their therapist, or engage in various recovery based interventions through the app. They can choose to listen to podcasts that focus on assertiveness cues, relaxation techniques, dealing with urges, and refusal skills. This provides a 2-3 minute “time out” to the distressed client who may need to ride out the temporary emotional state.

The A-CHESS has an administrative function where the clinician can mass message clients, add sober events to the clients’ calendar, monitor participation, and evaluate client progress and concerns on the app. Data available to the clinician include individual and group Brief Alcohol Monitoring (BAM) survey responses. The client is prompted weekly to complete the BAM survey which assesses not only relapse triggers, but evaluates protective factors as well. If the client’s BAM responses are indicative of clinical decline the treating therapist is alerted by the ACHESS system which allows for prompt intervention to occur.

The treating clinician is also provided with information regarding client’s use of specific features on the app, as well as, the amount of time the client is engaged with the technology. This data can be utilized in treatment planning and developing client specific interventions. This easy to read clinical data compliments quality practice and assists in providing measurable outcomes required by the Affordable Care Act. Clinicians are given the tools needed to provide a continuum of care for each client participating in the A-CHESS program.

As a next step, First Choice Services Inc. through the ATARI program partnered with sixteen organizations around West Virginia to provide access to smartphones with unlimited talk, text and data for six months, including comprehensive behavioral health centers, smaller behavioral health centers, and private practices. The phones are pre-programed with the A-CHESS app along with several recovery-based apps that were vetted and chosen by staff, including Sober Day, 12 Steps, NA Speakers, and Room to Breathe. The additional apps were chosen to help compliment and add to the tools available with A-CHESS. While A-CHESS is more focused on recovery from alcoholism, clients may use these other apps to access to resources related to recovery from narcotic use etc.

Client engagement is a very strong indicator of success in treatment and relapse prevention. A-CHESS allows for engagement with staff, both clinical and non-clinical, as well as peers who are in the same treatment groups. The Affordable Care Act is going to change how many treatment providers deliver service to clients and A-CHESS is a great example of a safe, secure, closed recovery environment which is very affordable at less than $2.00 per week per client. If clients are engaged with their clinician and peers, it seems a very good investment and would likely lead to better outcomes.

The ATARI program administers a “first day survey” through a custom A-CHESS survey option to collect information about access and impact of technology prior to joining the program. In looking at data from ATARI’s first six months and comparing to data obtained in these “first day surveys,” clients are reporting a 21.6% increase in abstinence, a 9% decrease in depression, a 24% decrease in anxiety, and a decline of intravenous drug use from 7% to zero. “A little over half of ATARI participants had no online recovery help before this program,” says Carmen Combs, evaluator at First Choice Services Inc. and First Choice Health System Inc., “Now 87% of the clients who responded to the survey stated they feel connected with their recovery support using A-CHESS.” This means recovery help is making an impact.

In the spirit of Motivational Interviewing, adopting new technology during these times of extreme changes in the field has presented challenges. Clinicians and staff enter partnership with ATARI at varying stages of fears, concerns, and excitement. The setting and role of the clinician made a difference in the willingness to embark on integration of the smart phone and apps. Many of the more traditional clinicians were extremely concerned about HIPAA and boundaries. However, recovery coaches, peer specialists, and staff at day report centers were eager to embrace technology and were excited to have the additional resources made available by A-CHESS, and saw the ability to provide a reliable form of communication with clients via the smart phone as a tremendous resource. In order to allay fears of HIPAA breaches, clients were provided an extensive informed consent, required to set a unique password on the phone, and given the option to select a user name which could be fictional.

For additional accountability, the ATARI staff participated in bi-weekly calls with 50 other TAC grantees across the nation to share program successes and problem solve obstacles as they arose. Additionally, we worked closely with JBS International and participated in onsite reviews of the ATARI program.

In March 2014, the ATARI staff participated in a technology showcase at the SAMHSA headquarters where we were able to meet with Dr. H. Wesley Clark and the TAC grantees for a two day healthcare and technology conference. This provided a platform to not only evaluate the current Healthcare Technology Programs, but to begin to develop sustainability objectives and look toward future projects.

As a result of these successes. ATARI has begun to develop a secure online platform for the delivery of one-on-one counseling services in order to further facilitate the integration of technology in West Virginia. There are many platforms available and a very comprehensive list can be found at In addition ATARI selected approximately 25 Master’s level licensed social workers, licensed professional counselors, psychologists, and Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselors from West Virginia and provided the face-to-face two-day training for the National Board of Certified Counselors’ Distance Credentialed Counselor (DCC), a national credential recognizing a professional with training in the best practices in distance counseling.

Some states are beginning to require additional coursework, continuing education or credentialing before clinicians provide “distance counseling.” West Virginia licensing boards do not require additional formal education, however, the newly released American Counseling Association Code of Ethics indicate under section “H.1.a Knowledge and Competency- Counselors who engage in the use of distance counseling, technology, and/or social media develop knowledge and skills regarding related technical, ethical and legal considerations (e.g. special certifications, additional course work)” (American Counseling Association, 2014). Additionally, counselors and agencies need to seek clarification from malpractice insurance carriers about whether distance counseling is covered under their policy, and usually provide information about the platform security and assurance that the service delivery method falls within the counselors’ competencies and scope of practice. Additional resource organizations which provide training and certifications include the Online Therapy Institute and the Telemental Health Institute and the National Frontier and Rural Addiction Technology Transfer Center (NFARATTC), which solely focuses on addiction treatment and technology, instead of “telemedicine” and “telepsychiatry”. These allied professions have certainly forged the path for all behavioral health professionals; however, many of the resources fall short in addressing the needs of licensed counselors. NFARATTC, International Institute for Mental Health Online, Online Therapy Institute and the TeleMental Health Institute provide more specific resources for what is considered substance abuse and mental health. The Regional Technology Resource Centers are also a tremendous resource and similar to the ATTC Network, most states have a regional center and they are happy to assist.

As “digital immigrants” being able to conceptualize technology based counseling was initially difficult. However, this project has allowed us to see how this additional layer of support has enhanced the client’s treatment experience and improved client engagement. Health care reform, governmental policy, and reimbursement sources are all trending toward technology enhanced treatment. However, we have been most powerful impacted by receiving thankful messages like “I’m not sure where I would be without this program” and “this program has helped save my life quite a few times just by having instant access to my fellow addicts and counselor.” This is an exciting new time.

This article first appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of TILT Magazine ~ Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology.

Click here to read the entire PDF version of the “Tech Support”- Using Technology to Support Ongoing Recovery article.

American Counseling Association (2014). ACA Code of Ethics. Alexandria, VA: Author
Chih, M., Patton, T., McTavish, F., Isham, A., Judkins-Fisher, C. L., Atwood, A. K., & Gustafson, D. H. (2014). Predictive modeling of addiction lapses in a mobile health application. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 46(1), 29-35. PMCID: PMC3963148
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.
Gustafson, D. H., McTavish, F. M., Chih, M. Y., Atwood, A. K., Johnson, R. A., Boyle, M. G., Levy, M. S., Driscoll, H., Chisholm, S. M., Dillenburg, L., Isham, A., & Shah, D. (2014). A smartphone application to support recovery from alcoholism: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2014 Mar 26. [Epub ahead of print] doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.4642. NIHMSID: NIHMS550949

Gustafson, D. H., Boyle, M. G., Shaw, B. R., Isham, A., McTavish, F., Richards, S., Schubert, C., Levy, M., & Johnson, K. (2011). An e-Health solution for people with alcohol problems. Alcohol Research & Health, 33(4), 327-337. PMCID: PMC3536059

McTavish, F. M., Chih, M. Y., Shah, D., & Gustafson, D. H. (2012). How patients recovering from alcoholism use a smartphone intervention. Journal of Dual Diagnosis, 8(4), 294-304. PMCID: PMC3541672
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5):1-6.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2011). Leading Change: A Plan for SAMHSA’s Roles and Actions 2011-2014. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 11-4629. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved at:

The International Society
Online Therapy Institute
National Frontier & Rural ATTC
Telemental Health Institute
Telehealth Resource Center
American Counseling Association Code of Ethics 2014

Susie Mullens MS, LPC, ALPS, AADC-S, Licensed Psychologist, SAP, DCC (Distance Credentialed Counselor) is the program director for the ATARI project at First Choice Services in Charleston, W.V. She is the immediate past president of WVAADC and serves on the NAADAC Veterans Subcommittee. Prior to ATARI, she was the Director of Counseling & Wellness at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, WV. Ms. Mullens has been working in the mental health & substance use disorders field for over 23 years.

Teresa Warner is the ATARI Program Coordinator for First Choice Services, Inc. She has over 20 years working with substance dependent and the dual diagnosed clients, providing direct service in the community behavioral health centers, serving as a case manager in outpatient and residential settings, and as a probation officer for the West Virginia Supreme Court. In 2011, Ms. Warner began working for the West Virginia Physicians Health Program which provides intervention and supervision of medical professionals struggling with addiction. Under the supervision of Dr. P. Bradley Hall she obtained her Medical Review Officer Assistant Certification.

More about ATARI project:
““Tech Support” Using Technology to Support Ongoing Recovery first appeared in the July 2014 issue of Advances in Addiction & Recovery. © 2014 NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals. All

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When is an Online Ending really an ending?

November 13th, 2014   •   no comments   

When is Online Ending ImageI’ve been reflecting a lot on endings recently. This is partly because I’m entering a new phase of my life and have cut down my work load (I can hear friends and family snorting with laughter and disbelief at this point!). However it is also to do with other things that I have been doing.

At the recent UK Council for Psychotherapists’ (UKCP) conference ‘Psychotherapy 2.0’, I was fortunate to co-host the online delegates’ stream with Aaron Balick. One of the interviews I conducted was with Aaron about his new book ‘The Psychodynamics of Social Networking’. Anyone who knows me will know that I am truly not into social networking sites (SNS), so I had to read the book most intently before the day, and to my surprise, really enjoyed it!

One of the many things that took my attention was the chapter in which Aaron explored ‘Being in the Mind of the Other’. Here an area he considers is the fact that SNS allow or enable people to continue to know about ‘the other’ even when the relationship has, on the surface, come to an end. So when a relationship breaks up, one or both partners can still find out a lot about their ex-partner.

That led me to think about online supervision, both from the perspective of supervisor and supervisee. As a supervisor, it would be quite possible for a supervisee to ‘keep tabs’ on me, or follow what I was up to by tracking me through SNS after our contract came to an end. The same would apply to me as a supervisee – what would I do if I had a sense, or knew, that an ex-client was following me as best s/he could after we finished our work together? What might alert me to this, and what would I need to do about it within supervision? In either case, it might be totally benign, or it could be rather like stalking. Also what does it mean for me, for my supervisees and for clients if in fact there hasn’t been a total ending? Are we shying away from experiencing the feelings that may arise from the loss of another? If so, how might that affect our ability to deal with the losses experienced through the death of someone we love (or hate)? I don’t have an answer to this, but it is good to have been made to consider it, and think about what is available freely about me online.

A different online ending I have been wrestling with actually happened to a therapist friend. As she put it, ‘My supervisor dumped me by email!’ She did know that the supervisor was retiring before too long and that they were working towards an end. They normally met online synchronously, using video, and there had been a difficulty in making the next session due to both of them having holidays booked. However, my friend was ‘gobsmacked’ when she received an email from her supervisor stating that as they had not made another appointment, she (the supervisor) was ending the contract and hoped it wasn’t too much of a shock. Could this possibly have happened in a f2f relationship? I rather think not, as there would have had to be a telephone call, or a letter, and letters tend to be more thought through than emails in such circumstances, I would venture. Apart from it being unprofessional and unethical simply to end supervision without an ending, it seems to me that there is something about the ease of pressing ‘send’ that may have allowed the supervisor to do this without due consideration. Perhaps she would have done well to remember the ’24 hour rule’.

In supervision online, particularly if it has been asynchronous, every exchange, every word, may have been stored. As Dunn (2014) states ‘ They describe returning to the transcripts, sometimes months or years later, and gaining new insights from re-reading the exchanges’. She is talking about clients. But in fact the same applies in the supervisory relationship. We perhaps have more to return to after the ending than in f2f supervision.

So when is an ending not an ending? Perhaps we need to reconsider what we mean almost in the same way that bereavement therapy has moved from encouraging ‘letting go’ to ‘continuing emotional bonds’. Considering that together could be a part of working towards a good enough online supervision ending. Who will we be for and to each other in the future?

This article first appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of TILT Magazine ~ Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology.

Click here to read the entire PDF version of the When is an Online Ending really an ending article.

Anne Stokes is based in Hampshire, UK, and is a well-known online therapist, supervisor and trainer and Director of Online Training Ltd. She can be contacted at

Balick, A. (2014) The Psychodynamics of Social Networking: connected-up; instantaneous culture and the self. London, Karnac

Dunn, K. (2104) The Therapeutic Alliance Online. In Psychotherapy 2.0 – where psychotherapy and technology meet. Ed Weitz, P. London, Karnac

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The latest from Kate & DeeAnna! Writing & Flowers

November 7th, 2014   •   no comments   

While we keep you up to date on the topics of online therapy and coaching and we blog our articles from TILT Magazine~ Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology, Kate and  DeeAnna also blog about topics near and dear- sometimes overlapping with the remit of Online Therapy Institute, and sometimes not.

The most recent posts from both of us are offered here!


From Kate


On Being A Columnist

I’ve been thinking about both my contributors to TILT Magazine and my own role as a columnist recently.  This was inspired by the departure of my good colleague Anne Stokes over at TILT Towers, who has been with us from the inaugural issue right up to the present day – that’s 20 columns submitted for […]




From DeeAnna

flower therapy

What is Flower Therapy?

Flower Therapy [is a way to] welcome the angels of nature into your life… Doreen Virtue I learned about Doreen Virtue’s Flower Therapy Oracle Cards when I took her Certified Angel Card Reader course. I took the course because I wanted to learn about Tarot, and as many before me have said, Tarot can be…




We hope you enjoy!


Twitter Storms and Anti-Vax Flack

October 31st, 2014   •   no comments   

Wired to Worry 18 CartoonRecently, Jenny McCarthy asked her twitter followers to tell her the most important personality trait they looked for in a mate and to reply with the hashtag #jennyasks. She inadvertently caused a twitter storm. Here are a few examples of the flurry of angry tweets directed at the prominent anti-vaccinator:

Kevin Folta @kevinfolta Mar 16 Ideal mate accepts scientific consensus & considers the elderly, infants & immune compromised b4 spreading baseless hysteria. #JennyAsks

Thomas Levenson @TomLevenson Mar 14 My ideal mate? Easy: someone who cares enough about our kids to protect them from wholly preventable diseases. #Jennyasks #vaccineswork

SchneiderSales @SchneiderReps Mar 14 #JennyAsks I’m gonna go with intelligence. As in, someone who understands some basic facts about medicine and immunology.

Evidence of increasing opposition to McCarthy and the anti-vaccine movement is easy to find online. There is an anti-anti-vax website that keeps a running tally of the number of deaths attributed to the anti-vaccine movement. As more measles outbreaks occur throughout North America journalists and medical researchers are quick to point the blame at McCarthy. The recent twitter backlash is just one more example that not everyone is buying her pseudoscience stance.

I am happy that there is debate on this issue and that social media gives non-celebrities a means to talk back and to counter misinformation. I am less happy about the tone of that debate. Although I do think that McCarthy is misguided, I would never agree that she doesn’t care about kids. I believe that she cares deeply and that is why she has been willing to face what has to be an overwhelming amount of hostility and criticism.

Stephen J. Hoffman from McMaster University has suggested that we follow celebrity medical advice for a variety of reasons, including cognitive dissonance and the halo effect (Hoffman, 2013). This is fine when the advice is good, such as Jamie Oliver’s campaign to improve nutrition in school lunch programs. However, it becomes problematic when the advice is based on misinformation or ideology rather than science or evidence. Hoffman suggests that professionals are able to counter harmful celebrity advice by educating our patients – whether it is about vaccinations, a questionable fad diet or unsafe exercise regimen.

In addition, as therapists we need to speak out on social media whenever we hear similarly harmful information. However, we need to remember that it is never necessary to make a point at the expense of someone else’s feelings or dignity. We have the opportunity to raise the level of discourse, stick to the facts and reject personal attacks that only serve to increase animosity between each side of a debate.

Hoffman SJ, Tan C. Following Celebrities’ Medical Advice: Meta-Narrative Analysis. British Medical Journal 2013; 347: f7151. doi:10.1136/bmj.f7151.

This article first appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of TILT Magazine ~ Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology.

Click here to read the entire PDF version of the Twitter Storms and Anti-Vax Flack article.

Christine Korol, Ph.D. is a cartoonist, psychologist in private practice in Calgary, Canada and the host/producer of a podcast on that provides free online anxiety and stress reduction education videos.

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Want the latest news from Online Aromatherapy Institute?

October 29th, 2014   •   no comments   

As you know, we have expanded our efforts a bit and we now offer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) courses including Reiki, intuition and essential oils.

DeeAnna is taking the lead on all news related to essential oils and blogs regularly about CAM and essential oil news. If you are interested in receiving her news, be sure to sign up at her website- right on the home page.

Moving forward, these updates will focus primarily on telemental health and distance interventions.

In the meantime, here are a few of her recent posts:

Recent Posts

intuitive aroma reiki

Are you interested in Intuitive Aroma-Reiki?

Not sure what Aroma-Reiki is? Here’s the essential scoop! I was motivated to learn Reiki to use as part of my self-care regimen. And once I learned and experienced Reiki for myself, I knew I had to share Reiki with others. That is why I became a Reiki Master Teacher. Not long after I decided to… [Read More]




blog hormonal

Free Teleclass: Essential Oils for Hormonal Support

I am happy to announce the next FREE Essential Oils Teleclass! The topic? Essential Oils for Hormonal Support!  If you are struggling with endocrine imbalance, that “change of life” shift, having your own private summers or if you are young and crampy… then this is a call you want to be on! If you can’t… [Read More]





Essential Oils Education- from your couch, in your home or at a workshop!

Yep. That’s what I do. I teach you how to enhance your everyday living with essential oils. Essential oils can support every system of your physical body while also supporting your mind an spirit.  Sounds awesome, right? Learn about how essential oils can bring abundance to your life on so many levels- and here’s how! 1. Attend… [Read More]




FREE Workshops in Red Bank NJ! Oils For Essential Living

Mark your calanders! First Friday mornings 10am-noon Third Tuesday evenings 6pm-8pm Every month (except August because because a lot of folks are enjoying the last of the summer and preparing for back to school) BUT other than August we are ready to be of service twice a month. “WE” you say? Yes indeed. I am… [Read More]

MY EXPERIENCE The Foundation Certificate In Cyberculture

October 26th, 2014   •   no comments   

Student Spotlight ImageAs a student, how can I define my experience of the Foundation Certificate in Cyberculture with the Online Therapy Institute? The reality for me has been a psychologically and emotional passage of time over recent months. Incorporating study with my volunteering role as a Counsellor had been a little discerning initially as I had to incorporate a new routine in to my life where I could apply undivided attention.

Returning to study when you’re my age requires an element of careful thought before committing yourself to the required study time. However returning to ‘online study’ is a different and unique experience in comparison to f2f classroom study and required a different level of commitment and understanding of what e-learning is. Defining my experience of the Foundation Course required reflection as to how I felt I had benefitted from the course. In reality I am (was) a former technophobe dedicated to f2f counselling and avoiding technology as much as possible. Studying the course transformed my awareness and understanding of how technology can benefit and enhance the therapeutic experience as a whole. Learning to understand technology and the benefits it conveys altered my perception of its value within the counseling relationship. Opening my mind allowed me to grasp new technology and incorporate it in to my future counselling practice.

A simple tantalizing glimpse in to Cyberculture is offered at the outset of the Foundation Course and doesn’t infer a horrendous sense of study as other courses do. A gentle slide in to a comfy mode of learning is available to a prospective student; yet don’t be fooled into thinking it may be a simple case of whack a few words down in an essay and e-mail it over, this is definitely further from the truth. Be prepared for extensive reading and reflection of the online study materials, learning to understand extensive Cyberculture Terminology and Language can be a difficult task for a slightly more mature student but it is a respected and valuable part of your learning.

The course itself imparts identifying and utilizing basic internet functions which I assure you, you will not be aware of at the initial stages of the course. A simple glimpse in to web 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0 is offered at the end of module one, for myself at the outset I thought we had web 1.0 and that was it!! My learning soon identified for me a new world of exciting knowledge and available skills to be incorporated in to my former technophobic f2f counselling practice. Moving through the modules and identifying methods and locations for communicating in cyberspace was an intense experience. Identifying types of new therapeutic relationships was certainly more than I bargained for, but eagerly lapped up by my innate sense of curiosity and learning.

For me, one of the most important aspects of the whole course was study centered around the Online Change Agent Relationship, Presence and the Online Disinhibition Effect. In f2f counseling, disinhibition and presence are conveyed in a physical sense, in cyberspace it is more an ethereal sense. Identifying and learning to work with online anonymity and fantasy within the therapeutic relationship is a valuable area of study, as when we create fantasy or visualization in f2f counseling, we create a fixed or guided set of boundaries. To utilize this approach online identifies a much wider scale of required boundaries and tighter control of the fantasy world we potentially enshrine ourselves in. Information and learning is provided in a professionally structured and supportive manner which I can only compliment and recommend highly. Experiencing the impact of legislation and liability that is commensurate with cyberculture is certainly a valued area of study which I cannot convey enough.

Technology allows us to communicate and support a wider audience who are unable to physically or emotionally attend f2f counselling. Technology is imprinted in our lives, we now need to learn to grasp and utilize its benefits.
Concluding my experience of the course, I cannot impress enough the quality of the material and the tutor support available. My time studying has been an experience which I would recommend to anyone contemplating studying and introducing cyberculture in to their professional practice.

Take the plunge, you’ll not regret it.

This article first appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of TILT Magazine ~ Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology.

Click here to read the entire PDF version of the MY EXPERIENCE The Foundation Certificate In Cyberculture article.

Myke McKay began his training in counselling and sign language in 2008 with COSCA at Perth UHI with a view to working with the Deaf Community. However his passion for counselling took over and he entered University in Dundee under the tutelage of John McLeod. Graduating as a counsellor his role for the last three years has been as a volunteer counsellor based in Dundee working with people who self-harm, suicide, anger and trauma issues. More recently his aim has been to expand these areas utilizing his training from the Online Therapy Institute

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Kate Anthony’s news about cyberculture and more…

October 25th, 2014   •   no comments   

Take a look at the latest news from Kate Anthony’s blog- more news for you about online interventions and cyberculture…



Coaching in the Digital Age

Sometimes I feel I neglect the coaching part of me!  It’s true that the majority of my work tends towards the counselling and therapy side: but am also a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) and an IAC Masteries™ Practitioner; maintain strong links with the Coaching Division of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy as their […]




Trolls .v. Abusers – Let’s Clarify a Bit

I’ve posted about trolling before when I returned from a conference – and feel inspired to do so again having returned from another!  I went to a colleague’s workshop on CyberTrauma recently, and spent a very enjoyable day with counsellors, teachers, and other people with an interest in e-safety when it comes to working with […]




Fostering the Spark – How Our Students Become Pioneers

One of the most enjoyable aspects of tutoring our courses are the live “vivas” – a chance for DeeAnna and I to talk individually to each of our students.  These talks, held over the telephone, through a videolink, or in a chat room, take place twice during our larger trainings – once at the end […]



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Mentorship and the Path of E-Mastery

October 19th, 2014   •   no comments   

speyer1“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” (Buckminster Fuller)

‘Bucky’ is right when we’re just looking at the outside of a caterpillar… or at a person whose potential is latent, which at some point in our lives could be said of all of us. Yet if we envision the oak contained in the acorn, the butterfly yet to emerge, or the seed of someone’s purpose before it fully blossoms, then we can be a mentor to them or what Shlomo Carlebach calls a real holy friend.

“There are three kinds of friends in this world. An ordinary friend sees only what you are; for that you don’t need a friend. Then there’s a friend who sees in you what you can be. But in the presence of a real holy friend, you already are!”

If we are so blessed, we have such a person when we first set out on our path, a mentor who treats us as if we already were what we potentially could be and thereby inspires us to become what we can be (Goethe). This is best expressed by Viktor Frankl in this passionate talk to students: He cites Goethe’s maxim as the most important perspective a therapist can have.

I have such a mentor in Tom Francoeur who was my counseling professor and mentor when my vocation was anything but clear to me. Dr. Thomas Francoeur (92 yrs) is Professor Emeritus of McGill University in Montreal who specialized in Counseling and Religious Education. If there can be such a thing as genius when it comes to the gift of presence, Tom Francoeur is at that level. With him, I experienced the kind of conversation that can be called communion and not merely communication. When I exhort E-counselors to hone in on ‘the person behind the problem’ I am carrying on the legacy of Francoeur, as practiced online through the mystery of non-local presence (explored further below).

I like to call Francoeur the ‘godfather’ of the InnerView approach to short-term therapy, which actually plants the seeds for long-term soul work. InnerView evokes the interior landscape of what the soul knows. InnerView guidance is a matter of realignment with the feelings, needs, values and purposes which allow our inner and outer worlds to be congruent. That integral coherency in turn opens our limited personal selves to transpersonal and archetypal realms and we come to see our life situation with the kind of wide-angle lens Tom naturally uses. It’s about what kind of person is having the problem, rather than what kind of problem is discouraging or even disabling the person. Francoeur’s InnerView guidance has brought thousands of students, clients, and seekers of all kinds into alignment with the best of their human nature. That mission continues online. A person is a presence and a feeling, not just a personality, so if features of the client’s personality are not ‘in the room’ so to speak, it can actually be an advantage. In addition, “writing is a strong easement for perplexity.” (Emily Carr)

Tom Francoeur continues to have a profound life-changing effect on those who experience his healing presence. He has consistently lived his message that “Happiness comes from giving of oneself.” Originally envisioned as a tribute to his mentorship and influence, a documentary profile of Tom became the first episode in a series called GuideLives for the Journey: Ordinary Persons, Extraordinary Pathfinders:

As one of the pioneers of online counseling in Canada circa 2000, I now see it was difficult to find my way before then because my career wasn’t invented yet! In the 80’s, when Francoeur was prophetically saying, even in front of others, that I was going to be a leader in the field, it was flattering, but I really thought he was taking the encouragement too far. I told him honestly how I felt at the time – that what he was seeing in hisprotégé was more of a good client than a counsellor. Yet he never wavered in his vision or questioned my own when I launched into a Creative Writing Masters and preferred literary criticism, radio drama and film courses to graduate reviews of psychology theories. The internet itself was still a decade away, and I envisioned being therapy-wise in service of my writing rather than the writing leading the way to what became, not just another modality, but a new field of therapy.

In my role as clinical supervisor for the largest EFAP company in Canada, I have now overseen 80K short-term asynchronous cases. Along the way, I discovered 18 therapeutic elements unique to the medium and proved that the ‘writing cure’ is equally and often more effective than the traditional ‘talking cure.’ Lest anyone still believes there is something inherently impersonal about online therapy, the clients have always said otherwise.

“I was initially a little skeptical that online counselling would be a good medium to deal with emotions and complex personal issues – despite the typed words and computer screen, I felt her warmth and geniune interest in my well-being shining through each message.”

“I feel as if someone has put an arm over my shoulder and is talking to me.”
“Your words are as comfortable and appropriate as my favourite pants and sweatshirt on a cold night!”
“I’m actually not too comfortable talking about myself – which is why I am absolutely amazed as to what I have been writing in these mails.”

“I was very impressed with the quality of support that I received and the objectivity. I felt completely validated and encouraged to look after me. I feel that the email exchanges allowed for complete disclosure from me as I didn’t have to face someone directly – people react to things being said and body language can be encouraging or discouraging. The online process removes this barrier.”

“Once I had purged everything in writing and had responses back which I could access at any time, the healing began quickly. It was like a wonderful wave of self realization and peace washed over me.”

“She spoke to me as if I was right in the room with her and had a very good approach to speaking to me even when relating to a previous letter.”

“I have printed all of our correspondences, and will use them over the next months and years. I feel the quality of the counselling I received was A++, much better then several sessions I had been to in person with a local counsellor charging $150 an hour.”

“I had no idea it was possible to form a bond and a trust with someone based solely on the written word. Thoughts and feelings just seemed to flow out of me in a way I never could have imagined. My e-counsellor helped me put things in perspective and look at things going on in my life in a whole different light. I was apprehensive about trying e-counselling but find it was the best move I ever made.”

Asynchronous E-counselling, by virtue of being an introspective process while remaining part of a therapeutic dialogue, can involve the best of both worlds, inside/outside, individual and relational. It allows for a measured ‘heart-to-heart talk’ that takes place in a shared space mediated by the internet. Both insight and emotional catharsis are possible in the safest of environments when a window is opened to the thought and feeling processes on both sides of the computer. Beyond text-based bonding is the notion of tele-presence, non-local presence, or the feeling of persons being present to each other, even at a physical distance. As cyber psychologist John Suler observed, “There is a special type of interpersonal empathy that is unique to text relationships. Some claim that text-only talk carries you past the distracting, superficial aspects of a person’s existence and connects you more directly to the other’s psyche.”

Or as the poet John Donne might have tweeted, “More than kisses, letters mingle souls.”

The process of focusing, or paying close attention to one’s own self-awareness, feelings, and thoughts, is facilitated by a text-based dialogue taking place behind the scenes of self-presentation, where counsellor and client do not face each other. Both have more of an opportunity to look within themselves as they communicate. The essence of non-local presence is the paradox of being alone together. Similarly, witnessing or taking a step back from one’s internal dynamics to gain perspective is enhanced by the act of composing oneself and getting it down in writing. When this text-based externalization occurs, the client is invited to live in a bigger, more meaningful story.

“I find the process of writing in these InnerView sessions a form of healing. Emotions transform when I key events onto this page and I begin to awaken from a self-absorbed or selfish state.

I still have notes from the group supervision course led by Tom Francoeur in 1987. He conducted case conferencing master classes like a skilled artist who paints with only a few deft strokes…

“Together with the client, you are two architects of their life.”

“Every human heart is built to heal.”

“We can’t learn skills apart from knowing persons.”

There is an intangible attunement one receives from an inspired mentor, a golden thread that keeps you on your path through the mazes of life. You hold onto your end, and it keeps you forever connected with your teacher. You then extend it to others as their mentor and guide. It’s a response-ability you pay forward. It’s just the way it is when you are committed to your path and practice.

The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

- William Stafford

This article first appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of TILT Magazine ~ Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology.

Click here to read the entire PDF version of the Mentorship and the Path of E-Mastery article.

Cedric Speyer helped design and develop one of Canada’s first online counselling services and has overseen the delivery of 80K cases. He currently supervises an ‘E-team’ of 30 E-counsellors. Cedric conceived and promotes a therapeutic approach called InnerView and directs a documentary series entitled GuideLives for the Journey: Ordinary Persons, Extraordinary Pathfinders.

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Using the Internet to Build a Dream: From Burnt Out Psych Nurse to Thriving Wellness Coach

October 12th, 2014   •   no comments   

nurse1For the last four years, I have had my head down learning everything I could about online business, from blogging, auto responders, guest writing, and building traffic. When I decided I wanted to build my own website the adventure began.

I have been a full time nurse for the last 25 years in a state funded mental hospital, running my business from home in the afternoon from the baseball field, laundry mat in hotels, sitting in my truck on my lunch break and many more spots.

When I decided I needed a website/blog I had no clue how to add links, images or even what a banner was for. I started learning anyway – without extra funds in the family budget I couldn’t pay someone to help me and I had to do learn. I worked for 6 months and had a page that sold products…and it was ugly!

Over time that has changed. I put myself around people who could help me and finally took the plunge to get a business coach to help me take the next small steps. A true online business is not an overnight success story. It comes with true blood, sweat and tears…well maybe not the blood but defiantly some tears and frustration.

I worked three nights a week 13 hour shifts on the night shift. I had a small son at home and a son who played travel baseball. Between lack of sleep and lack of time I could not sit in my office to run a business. The business had to go with me – it had to be mobile or it was not going to happen.

I had lots of time sitting at the ball park between games and sometimes four games a day. At the time, all I had was a Blackberry phone and I took notes and wrote blog post on my phone and emailed them to myself so I could finish when I got home.

I never dreamed that what I had started would grow like it has the last two years.

I applied everything I learned even when it didn’t make sense and I was seeing no results. I had every reason in the world to quit. There was something inside my gut that would not let me. I wrote two blog posts a week for months about my experience as a nurse and the people I had met and things I had seen in mental health.

The readers began signing into my newsletter that went out on Monday to get each post that I wrote. Then I began noticing people were retweeting and re-posting them. The products mentioned in my blog began to sell, as I taught how the essential oils worked for me and how I was using them at my work more and more. More people wanted the products for the same problem they had.

You see we are problem solvers not salesman – people have problems and they are looking for the answer. They don’t want to hear how amazing your product is compared to another company, they want to know how what you have can help them, then for you to tell them how they can get it.

So I did.

I use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter (my favorites) and Google+, LinkedIn, and bookmarking sites to send my content out into the marketing world. I told my story – I told the products I used and how they could get it.

People were buying products that I have never talked too – they were signing up to get business kits for the essential oils without me calling and begging them to purchase. As a matter of fact – I have done 100% of business online without picking up the phone. I used the same method that I teach my team now to use.

The ones who sees results are the ones who are consistent – and stay at it.

I don’t think I am an expert – I just don’t give up I work when nothing is happening and when most people would throw in the towel. If something is not working I look for another way to present it. This week I had a giveaway if people signed for the essential oils kit – I gave instructions of what they had to do to get the free book – and as soon as they followed through with all the steps – I shipped the book. Eight people in 4 days bought a kit – I did not talk to the first person on the phone – just Facebook, other social media and my blog.

I had lots of steps to learn – I had to learn about marketing, PPC, auto responders, why I needed a weekly newsletter – how you talk to people online is a little different than in person. The #1 tip I give is – stop talking to people to make a sell. Solve their problem – make the conversation all about them – open your ears and listen. People tell you their problem without asking for it. Then tell them about your deal whatever it is that would make their life better. Stop pushing people or they will run; become the go to person and share with them what you have that will help them.

In the last year and a half I have spoken on stages to share my story, my blog literally is being read around the world, not only is my essential oil business growing – I am now mentoring a group of people who want to learn more about what I do in a private group. I have won awards, and receive a nice compensation each month that has tripled my 25 year nursing income from the comfort of the ball field or riding down the road as my husband drives. I don’t let time or place stop me – I take it on the road with me.

I wish for your biggest dreams to come true: don’t want for them, go find them. They already belong to you.

This article first appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of TILT Magazine ~ Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology.

Click here to read the entire PDF version of the Using the Internet to Build a Dream: From Burnt Out Psych Nurse to Thriving Wellness Coach article.

Angela Brooks is a former burnt-out mental health nurse who is now a nurse educator, thriving business owner, and online marketing trainer. She quickly learned how to take her business “on the move” so she could have more time enjoying her family using mobile marketing.

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MicroVideo Marketing

October 5th, 2014   •   no comments   

marketingtoolboxIn 2013, the number of mobile devices exceeded the world’s total population.

An average home will now contain up to six internet-enabled devices. People, and their content, are constantly on the move.

Rich media, such as video, must therefore be accessible across a variety of platforms. It must load rapidly and run efficiently. For this reason, short video formats are rising to the forefront of marketing strategy.

If 2013 was the year for Instagram, 2014 will be the year for short video.” Dom O’Neill, Managing Director, Digit

Micro video

YouTube is the mecca for video sharing, and will continue to be so. Vimeo is an admirable alternative. However, applications such as Vine (6-second videos) and Instagram (15-second videos) now deliver easily administered micro video that is set to become a key element in future digital brand strategy.

2/3 of the world’s data will be video by 2017

Vine is an app from Twitter that helps you produce and share six-second videos very easily.

While many companies attempt to create the next great viral video buzz, a successful SME strategy maintains an emphasis on quality over quantity. Generating a higher engagement rate than any other video medium throughout 2013, the 6 second Vine video, is well worth the attention of therapists and consultants seeking ways to attract new customers and promote loyalty among current customers.

Professional, yet authentic videos can efficiently and cost-effectively cater to consumers’ appetites for entertaining and useful content.

Creating successful marketing micro videos

It is important to keep audience interaction focussed, valuable and engaging. Content should be as visually appealing and authentic as possible. As the Vine site itself suggests; ‘Create short, beautiful, looping videos in a simple and fun way.

Think about creating a video teaser to promote longer downloads, blogs or articles. Alternatively, use them to promote your brand and draw potential new customers back to your website. Create ‘how-to’ video content to demonstrate thought leadership, build reputation and raise awareness of relevant issues and how they might be solved.

You must deliver a clear message within the tight timeframe. By applying Time Lapse, you have the opportunity to capture a greater number of story elements in a rapidly executed flow. Think about highlighting the benefits your services bring.

Try to put yourself in the position of a potential customer. What will peak their interest? What is important to them? Make every second count. Try to be original and show personality. Tailor your message to your target audience in as fun a way as possible.

Craft content to match a call-to-action. Ask yourself: What do you want your audience to do after they watch the Vine and why would they do it? Will they feel incentivised to click on a link and find out more? Will they understand that something new is already available, or perhaps it is merely imminent and they should keep an eye out for further information?

As with Twitter, Vine can be searched using hashtags. So use them!

Five tweets per second contain a Vine link

Smart production

Plan your micro video story. You have six seconds. Use six storyboard boxes. Create sketches for each scene. Is each one different? Does each one last one second, or will one or more need longer?

Think about what you want to achieve, and how you can achieve it to best effect, before hitting the record button.

Natural lighting is most often used in Vine videos but you might wish to consider using light sources and light modifiers to create effects. Plan your lighting and framing. Apply the Rule of Third when framing your subject. Play with perspective and aim to maximise your video’s entertainment factor and appeal.

If you are applying time lapse (also referred to as stop-motion video), you will need to shoot your subject repeatedly, moving it subtly between shots, until you fill 6 seconds.

Vine videos replay in an endless loop. You can consider taking advantage of this by connecting the last and first shot, creating a seamless loop in the process. To do this, all you need to do is make the first and last shots the exact same scene.

Lastly, add a catchy title, relevant tags and a captivating description.

Share & promote

Distribution strategy is key to success!

Micro videos are easy to watch and share. The concept was created to enable easy delivery across platforms. So, once produced and published, don’t forget to share and promote your final results to widen your reach. Share a link from Vine on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social platforms. Don’t forget to include a link back to your company website. Embed your Vine video into the content of a blog. Don’t be afraid to share it several times to catch your fans and followers when they are online.

This article first appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of TILT Magazine ~ Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology.

Click here to read the entire PDF version of the MicroVideo Marketing article.

Sarah Lawton is a UK based content marketer and social media expert. With a passion for communication, new technologies and top quality content, Sarah encourages SMEs to make the best use of both traditional and online solutions. For further information or advice, please contact:

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