Saturday, January 7, 2017

"Life can become much easier with online services" - January 6, 2016

If you are over 40, you must have a we-live-in-the-future moment every time you Skype video with someone.  It is amazing how quickly this kind of phone call has become commonplace. My 90-year-old mother regularly video calls with her great-granddaughter, and she is hardly unique. In my experience, even the most tech resistant senior makes the effort to learn how to video call.

Now there are some innovative ways to bring valuable services via the same technology. Professionals can efficiently reach their customers/patients via online video services.

Primary among these is video psychological counseling.  Instead of driving to an office, a patient simply Skypes in and has a conversation with a therapist.  Some really like the casualness of it.  There is no sitting in a waiting room where you might feel like others there are judging you. Instead, in the comfort and safety of your own home, you are having a session with someone who wants to help you. And some studies have apparently shown online counseling can be nearly as effective as face-to-face counseling.
Online visits simplify child-care concerns. 

Years ago, I pointed out to a young friend that she was better at discussing things via text messaging than face-to-face. I joked that she would likely be more successful at receiving counseling if it could be done via text messaging. Little did I know she and I were on a valid path.

There are concerns. Therapists are generally licensed by the state where they practice. How does licensing work when the therapist in one state and the patient in another?  And insurance may not cover this kind of therapy. Although considering the cost savings it can bring, I could see that changing.

One practitioner I read about even has daily group sessions using Google Hangouts.

There are specialists for depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse and many more.

Like in all businesses online or in real life, choosing your provider takes care.  If there is value in video sessions, I hope we’ll soon see local practitioners offering a combination of face-to-face sessions as well as virtual sessions using video calls.

Video life coaching is more acceptable to many. Life coaches are not necessarily licensed, but the right one can help a person see their choices and opportunities more clearly.  Selecting an online coach can give a person a larger pool from which to choose.
Weight loss has shown to be an easier endeavor with support.  Video offers one-on-one support even for those too busy to attend meetings, or who would have to find child care to make a session.
There are also video coaching services for skills. I am not talking about the wealth of how-to videos available on Youtube or services like Lynda.com.  Rather, I mean one-on-one coaching between teachers and students.

For example, some offer music coaching services. They will listen to your music, watch you play on video and offer constructive criticism to help you improve.

Teachers are finding value with peer-to-peer coaching.  They can sit down in calls and discuss classroom challenges they are encountering and asking advice. With the parents’ and school's permission, video of classroom environments can be shared with the coach to gain insight and perspective.

Who wouldn’t want your children’s teachers to be more effective?
And video help does not need to be formal.  Is one family member on the opposite coast a math whiz who can help a niece or nephew on this coast with their homework?

Can grandma help tuck in a 3-year-old by reading a bedtime story via Skype?

Do divorced parents need to have a three-way session with a recalcitrant child to show a united front in their parenting despite any physical distance there might be?

Some services are not necessarily online video.  Tutor.com lets a student meet with a tutor on school subjects. They communicate by chat, and can interact on a white board. The chats are retained for the student to review later on.

Facebook Live is Facebook's easy to use live video streaming capability. I know one Virginia church that’s been around for over a 165 years that will soon begin live streaming its weekly services to their shut-ins. While that has been feasible for years, watching the videos has not been user friendly for the shut-ins until Facebook Live came along.

Might schools begin Facebook Live classrooms during future flu outbreaks?  Probably not, but it’s something to think about.

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