Tools For Practice Tuesday: Participatory Design via Mad*Pow

Last week I attended this informative webinar via Mad*Pow Design.  It was about the concept of “Participatory Design” and how it can help discover unmet needs.  Taken from the presentation here is the definition…

I found this a great tool to perhaps get your organization “unstuck”.  In mental health and non-profit spaces we often design programs with organizational leaders as the experts. Typically the closest thing we come to engaging participants in program design is having a focus group.  Sometimes we don’t even engage our own staff in the design of programs.

I found this diagram especially helpful. When starting a new program who the “experts”, “participants”, “researchers” and “designers” are fits in this spectrum. Think about the last program you developed and where it fit…

This sets the table for using a variety of strategies to walk through the design process.  The concept of going well beyond “the experts” pushing design can be powerful.  I can’t really do this process justice as it involves a lot of strategies. Those familiar with solution focused therapy, it reminds of activities to “externalize” or “name” the problem.

By designing programs and interfaces with Lego’s, collage, stickers, Post-It’s and even pipe cleaners; participants are able to walk through a concept. One is able to identify flaws and workflow problems. Most importantly discover things you didn’t discover in your basic concept. Learning about this process has a lot of value. This could assist your group or organization with design or even redesign of a program.

I would encourage to watch the rest of the WEBINAR FOUND HERE

Or view the slides..


Also stay tuned to “the experts” in design at Mad*Pow on…







Tools For Practice Tuesday: “Stress Free” App via Thrive

I had the pleasure to be invited by Sam Glass of Thrive, based in the UK, to demo their stress management app. Mental health apps continue to interest me.  From the case management perspective, I look for two main things. First that the app can be the extension of a therapy session that can be a “homework assignment”. Secondly, the app should be able to track progress so that the user can get feedback and potentially share with their care team.

Personally I like apps that have an easy and creative interface.  The “Stress Free” App offers all of these things. It asks you to rate your mood/stress level. Based on this it makes recommendations and a menu of choices for stress management….



I enjoyed the menu of various coping strategies. There is also educational material about each coping strategy. It’s one thing to suggest doing deep muscle relaxation, but it’s other thing to explain “the why”. It guides you though various activities using an avatar to walk you through…


More importantly it has a mood and activity tracker to measure progress. I feel very strongly about the potential of mood trackers. Maybe it’s just my slight bias as a therapist. I wonder if users find these kind of trackers helpful? Would also love to know if any therapists have put progress/measurements of an App in a treatment plan? (but I digress). It produces a progress chart…

On the enjoyable interface side, the Zen Rock Garden (or the beach garden as this app is beach themed) was an added bonus.  The beach theme is a nice part of the user experience as well. Maybe this is my bias because I love the beach too. The Zen Garden offers a nice place to distract and relax you…

For those working on stress management, I found the “Stress Free” App a good tool. To learn more about Thrive and the “Stress Free App” visit them at their website:

Also follow them on Social Media:

Twitter: @ThriveAppsUK 

Facebook: Thrive – Therapeutic Software 

Instagram: @ThriveAppsUK


Tools For Practice Tuesday: Stellicare

It has been while since I have done my “Tools For Practice Tuesday” feature. Every week I was attempting to feature a potential resource for social work practice, no matter what the level.   A few weeks ago it was a pleasure to get an update from blog alum Melissa McCool.  Previously featured was her “Symptom Targeted Intervention” or (STI) program. Using principals of case management and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, STI was a training for medical social workers and other medical staff.

With Stellicare, Melissa created a digital program to integrate these training concepts with treatment options. Targeting hospitals and other medical facilities, Stellicare attempts to quickly integrate behavioral concepts, symptom education, treatment, and outcomes. Using assessment tools, diagnosis, and choice; individualized protocols are developed….

This ends up producing both a client facing and clinician facing plan with educational materials, prompts, and therapy tasks.  I am a huge fan of technology being an adjunct to treatment and this is a great example. In getting a demonstration, the potential to use these tools and prompts as “homework” is wonderful.  Technology can help build a bridge for between sessions and I see Stellicare as a great example of this.  There are also ways to track progress and outcomes. You can not only track data on an individual basis but supervisors and organizations can aggregate data to perhaps better inform practice.

Change is a process and it looks like Stellicare is a great digital tool for healthcare facilities. To find out more click on the below picture to guide you  to their website to find out more…