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Tag 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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Blood Tests to Diagnose Schizophrenia

The diagnosis of schizophrenia and other mental health disorders is increasingly becoming a more scientific process.  A new blood test from veripsych looks at biomarkers found in the patients blood that are associated with schizophrenia.  The company partnered with Cambridge University in creating the new blood test.  While the blood test alone is not intended to diagnose schizophrenia, it can assist a psychiatrist in making the determination.  The plans are to continue research and develop blood tests to help identify markers for depression and bipolar disorder as well.  It is clear that the way we think about mental illness will continue to evolve as a result of these new tools.

 
 

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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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Addiction in the Tech Age

In a time where we are constantly connected and online all the time how do parents know how to set limits around their child’s use of technology?  Dr. Brent Conrad, a psychologist specializing in technology addiction in children adolescents and adults recommends setting time limits around technology use.  It is important to identify high risk times of the day for uncontrolled use.  For some that may be right after coming home from school or work, others it may be late at night, others it may be based upon avoiding family times.  Once you have identified those high risk times try answering the following three questions.

1) Is the goal moderation or abstinence? Abstinence is generally recommend for WoW (World of Warcraft) addiction, pornography addiction, and for most games classified as MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games.)
2) If the goal is moderation, how many hours per day / per week are reasonable?
3) What times of day are the “safest” and most responsible periods for use?

Implementing a new time table for safe use will mean adding additional structure into your home.  Be aware that change is difficult for everyone and that there is often push back at first, but stick with it and stay consistent.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2011 in Addiction, Mental Health

 

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