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Category Archives: Technology

New website to highlight our new services

New Prepare To Bloom Web PageI’d like to take a moment to talk about the new web page. I’m really excited about the new look and feel. It’s much more in line, from a design point of view, with the brochures and business cards I have. But there’s a lot more to the new web site than a pretty new layout. The new design coincides with the official launching of my new service structure. I’m very proud of all of the hard work I put into building a large network and expansive database of professionals, programs, and services but program placement is not the only service I provide.

Families often reach me after they’ve had several less-than-stellar experiences. Between the constant bombardment of marketing and the high expectations placed on parents and children by our culture, parents must do something if a child acts out. The direction they subsequently end up going may not be ideal. It is exceptionally difficult for parents to find the optimal resources when our society continues to stigmatize mental health concerns. So when a family reaches out for a therapist, they are doing their best but did you know there are over 30,000 psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers in California? Can a parent really be expected to find the most appropriate help for their child?

I help connect families with resources.

Sometimes this takes the form of finding the most appropriate therapist. Other times it may be finding a best-fit program. If contact early enough in this sometimes lengthy and expensive process, I can help to prevent poor decisions and save time, heart ache, and money. I’ve talked to many of you about how I have five distinct services and have finally put it in writing:

  1. Prevention – For families who are just beginning to see the signs and the symptoms of trouble.
  2. Family Support – For families in need of a new or modified treatment team.
  3. Placement – For families who need options outside of the home.
  4. After Care – Providing best fit options in a safe and secure ‘real world’ environment.
  5. Home Planning – Creating structure and support through past learnings.

Not only have I updated and articulated the new services I’m offering, but I’ve also built some illustrative tools. There’s a somewhat complex flow chart showing the process many struggling youth and their families go through. There’s an illustration showing how Prepare To Bloom fits into the puzzle that is the therapeutic treatment team. And finally there’s an illustration that shows the general growth pattern I see with some of my clients and how Prepare To Bloom provides the best services available at each critical step.

I’ve tried to tie up a lot of loose ends too. I’ve added a lot of information to the Resources and FAQ pages. I’ve tried to ensure the page is accessible to people using older browsers on older computers, but the site really shines when you’re using a modern browser such as Chrome 12+, Firefox 5+, or even Internet Explorer 9+.

Please check out the new site and let me know what you think.

 
 

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New Research About Teen “Sexting”

The National Campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy recently published the results from a survey they commissioned in conjunction with Cosmo Girl. The survey asked teens and young adults about their use of technology to send sexually explicit pictures and messages to one another. The survey included the responses of 1,280 teens and young adults ranging in age from 13-26.

In the findings, they reported that “A significant number of teens have electronically sent, or posted online, nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves.” They go on to report that “75% of teens and 71% of young adults say sending sexually suggestive content “can have serious negative consequences.”

Given these startling statistics, it is increasingly important that parents discuss “sexting” openly with their kids. 

  1. Talk openly – Although this is a difficult topic, it is important that your kids are aware that when sending pictures or sexually explicit messages the images are not truly private.
  2. Know their friends – Just as with all other friends, it is important that parents know who their kids are connecting with and communicating with online.
  3. Think long term, even when your kids can’t – Parents often have the ability to think of the long term repercussions of their actions.
  4. Stay up on technology – In order to be able to know what your kids are posting and sending out, you must be able to understand all of their technology.  Whether its Facebook, chatting, or “texting” make sure you are as savvy as your child.
  5. Communicate your expectations – by setting some expectations for what is appropriate online your kids will understand what is allowed.
If your child is misusing technology or posting explicit pictures of themselves or others, and this is disrupting their lives, we may be able to help. Whether you or your family are looking for therapists or treatment programs, Prepare To Bloom, LLC is just a phone call away. Please contact us at (650) 888-4575 or visit us on the web at www.PrepareToBloom.com.
 
 

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Ameliorating loneliness through the use of technology

Loneliness seems to be here to stay. Although western civilization has allowed us to connect with more people faster  and more frequently than ever before, many of us find ourselves suffering from feelings of abject solitude. Perhaps stimulating our sense of community over long distances through text, pictures, and video simply isn’t enough to deliver that feeling of well-connectedness. Shaking hands, giving a hug, or getting a real pat on the back are all impossibilities when we’re sitting at our computers, talking to someone many hundreds of miles away. What if we could use technology to help fill this seemingly impossible chasm pulling us apart?Well, a new Stanford research paper titled “Intimate Heartbeats: Opportunities for Affective Communication Technology” aims to point us in the right direction.

The research attempts to tackle the disparaging lack of a physical connection over long-distance communication by inserting the heartbeat of the communicating partner into the auditory stream. In a way, they wanted to know “What if you could hear how someone else is feeling”.  They used virtual reality to simulate how physically close participants were to each other when they communicated. How close do you stand to someone when you first meet them?  They tracked eye contact as well as responses to questions. They found that self-reported intimacy was higher when the participants could hear the other person’s heartbeat than when they couldn’t. Furthermore, the effect was equal to that of physically looking the other person in the eye.

The heartbeat doesn’t even need to be heard, either. It can be a sensation felt on the skin. The authors mention a ring, but one can also imagine something of a “heartbeat headphones” type of device that might be connected to a bracelet or even be a part of regular headphones. This is very promising research and raises many questions; Does this work equally well for all people? Can this be used as a therapeutic mechanism for people who exhibit antisocial behavior or who may have disorders with symptoms that parallel loneliness? Maybe we’ll know some of these answers soon, as the authors seem to be on the right track.

Here is their conclusion:

In this age of the Internet in which people interact more and more with their computers and less and less with each other,we need new ways to communicate emotions and maintain close connections. Decades of research have shown the importance of physiological signals for our own emotional experiences. This study presents evidence that physiological signals can be important communicative tools as well. Heartbeats are shown to be a powerful intimate nonverbal cue. Because of the intimate nature of heartbeat communication, it could potentially prove to be beneficial for social connectedness. Similarly, heartbeat communication might also improve emotion recognition and communication. This opens up a future in which we augment our natural emotion communication by new technologies that share the biosignals carrying our emotions.

Loneliness is obviously a very important topic for many of us. Google returns over 24 million results for the search term. There are countless blog articles devoted to the subject. Here are some written by people who experience or think about loneliness: Dreaming of Quiet Places, A Poem on Loneliness, Comparing Loneliness to AlonenessThe Complicated Simple Life. And a good professional read by Dr. Booth.

 

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