Using Technology and Online
Counseling to Help Integrate Persons
with Mental Illness Into the Community
Tech Plan Presentation
• What is Technology?
• PROS and SRV
• Technology Recommendations:
• EMI & Mobile Technology
• Web-based Interventions
• Ethical and Legal Concerns
What is Technology?
• Technology is used to invent and or solve problems.
• It is defined as the sum of the ways in which social groups
provide themselves with the material objects of their
• It is an understanding that deals with ways of inventing and
solving problems that related to everyday life.
Influences the mental health field in two significant ways:
1) Because technology is becoming so advance, we are constantly
springing forward with new knowledge, methods, and
2) Technology somehow found a way to integrate itself into our
social and cultural world in such a way that our generation and
future generations do not know any other way to
PROS and SRV• The program that I based my Tech Plan off of is the PROS program. I am
going to be interning with the program at The Guidance Center of
Westchester in Mt. Vernon. I thought it would be a nice introduction in
which I could learn more about this program as well as start my
internship off with some helpful ideas when I am asked to do group
work, and input my own thoughts and opinions.
• The PROS program stands for Personalized Recovery Oriented Services.
The goal of this program is to help adults (18+) with serious or persistent
mental illness integrate into the community. This is done through
establishing goals, creating realistic plans, building skills for independent
living, creating personal resources for support and recovery efforts, and
enrolling in vocational or educational programs.
• SRV or Social Role Valorization is defined as “the use of culturally valued
means to enable, establish, enhance, maintain and/or defend devalued
social roles for people at value risk.”
• Social Role Valorization programs are created for devalued populations,
giving them a chance, advocating for them, as well as enhancing their
social roles, and competencies.
• Smartphones allow users to remain connected throughout the day.
It has helped people engage in activities on their phone, in the same
manner that they would on a computer, with the advantage of
having mobility and it right in the palm of their hands.
• Smartphones have thousands upon thousands of apps for all
different types of categories, including counseling. Some of these
include apps for anxiety, depression, relaxation, relationships, and so
• Smartphones are great for self-assessment and monitoring. Through
apps they can monitor their behaviors, feelings, and symptoms at
certain times of the day, and see if a pattern exists.
• Once they see this pattern then can work with their PROS counselor
to develop goals, and plans, that help satisfy the problem or need.
• Some smartphones have alerts for signs of distress. When the
information is plugged in, and there are abnormalities, the
smartphone can instantly link the client to either hotlines, or to seek
• Smartphones have the ability to record and video sessions, keep
contact information, take notes, and other useful information.
• In the PROS program the client and counselor can come together
with goals and plans, in which the client can record on their phone
and keep for future reference. Perhaps they forgot what exactly their
homework assignment was, maybe they wanted to hear that
motivational line that their counselor said. Now they can because it
is saved right at their fingertips.
• This is a great way to help a client adhere better to treatment, and
goal compliance as well because there is no excuse that they forgot
what the assignment was.
• Virtual coaching or visual instructions are great for clients who are in
a social situation that they cannot escape from. Maybe there
counselor is not available. Apps that help decrease anxiety or stress
symptoms are available to keep the client as calm as possible.
• Synchronous Counseling:
• Real-time, direct conversation, where communication is quickly received.
• IM, Google Chat, Texting etc.
• Asynchronous Counseling:
• Delayed communication where there is time in between communication.
• Email, Discussion boards.
• Use of Text-based Counseling:
• Text-based counseling is great in the PROS program when the client is in the
community and not in the office. If they are in a situation where they feel
they are unable to handle it, they can quickly text their counselor with their
• It is also great if the client has a question that may need to be answered at
that moment, instead of having to wait until they see their counselor next.
• If they have a question or statement that does not need tending to right
away, emails are great, just to keep the idea in mind. We have busy lives, and
sometimes important statements can leave our minds for good.
One of the main goals of PROS is to tailor interventions to the
clients needs, EMI uses two different strategies to help do this:
1. EMI can be specifically designed based on what information the
client provides during the initial intake assessment based on
pre-intervention behaviors and thoughts.
2. EMI is used to deliver interventions at specific moments when
the individual is in need of additional support.
• Mobile Technology is not just the use of cellphones. It can be
phones, tablets, computers, anything that you can take on the
go where information can be delivered and received instantly.
These electronics are able to adapt to customized programs,
book appointments, keep schedules, notes, ideas, etc. By
incorporating EMI into these tools into the PROS program,
goals and plans, can be accessed and updated at all times.
• In the PROS program a web-based portfolio is great for the counselor and
client to see the growth and progress that the client has made by using the
portfolio to update, and add, assignments, notes, questions, etc. throughout
the clients work from beginning to end.
• It also is great for to monitor client adherence to treatment by assigning work
to be handed into it by certain days, or at least before the next meeting.
• Discussion boards, support groups, blogs:
• Peer-led and peer-focused interventions in which the clients help one
another or express themselves in a more unstructured manner with little or
no direct professional help (except monitoring from a counselor, unless it is
an outside source.)
• Peers can help each other overcome problems they they have in common. It
gives a sense of confidence, encouragement, and support. Also to let the
clients know that they are not the only ones.
• Nearly 2/3rd of those with diagnosable mental disorders do not seek
treatment for many reasons: one being that they do not want to face the
Ethical and Legal Implications
• Since records and information are online, there is more room for that
information to be hacked into.
• Counselors may or may not be qualified or fit to be an effective
online counselor. There will have to be training on apps, tools, and
the background of the interventions.
• Because we are dealing with persons with severe mental illness, they
have to fully understand and consent the use of technology in their
• Information has to be backed up, and stored safely, and securely.
• PROS is a community based program, so the legality would have to
be addressed. How would technology affect the entire organization,
rather than private practice.
• Jurisdiction: Some clients travel to the PROS program from far distances,
such as New Jersey or Connecticut. The jurisdiction between states can
• As an organization with multiple locations, they may have to have
licensure to practice online counseling, and the use of technology in their
• Because the client and counselor would implement the
technology tools, there is less worry about anonymity, however it
still has to be played into account to ensure the client and
• As far as cost there would be questions raised as to if the
organization provides payment for apps, tablets, etc. if the client
does not have access to them.
• Not everyone is technologically savvy. If a client is not
comfortable, then they cannot be forced into using technology.
This raises questions about quality of assurance. Will the
treatment be beneficial rather than f2f counseling?
• Concern about legal duties, standard of care, and
miscommunication. When technology is involved the concern for
risk is compromised when you are not with the client directly.
Texts can be misunderstood, and verbal and nonverbal cues are
not there in case the client is at harm.
• A. Bilotto, LMHC – In charge of employment services at The
Guidance Center of Westchester, PROS program.
• R. Liegner, LMHC – Director of the PROS program at The
Guidance Center of Westchester, as well as housing.
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2) Bilotto, A (2014, April 24.) Email Interview.
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9) Online Counseling: A Handbook from Mental Health Professionals (2011) edited by R. Kraus, G. Stricker and C. Speyer, Elsevier
Academic Press. ISBN:978-0-12-378596-1.
10) Personalized recovery oriented services (pros). (2014, 03 07). Retrieved from https://www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/pros/
11) The guidance center (pros). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.theguidancecenter.org
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